Social Media 101 for the Business to Consumer Environment


NOT all social media channels are suitable for your brand! 

The social media revolution has forever transformed the manner in which people communicate.  The advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, initially embraced by ‘early adopters’, now have a tremendous following with over 1 billion users on Facebook and a 140 million actively on Twitter.  These days everyone aspires to be digitally ‘switched on’ and businesses have certainly not fallen behind this trend.

What you may ask, is the purpose of a social media channel for businesses?

Social media platforms work brilliantly in exposing your brand to a wider audience while educating them on your business and strengthening your brand’s reputation.

At Fleishman-Hillard, we often find ourselves advising clients against the use of certain channels not relevant to their specific business interests.   Twitter is great for short messages and has lower set up and operation costs.  Facebook on the other hand requires a greater time commitment and is most impactful with loads of visuals and multimedia.

Having a presence across every social media platform is not necessary and is certainly not the way to go…  A significant percentage of businesses do not understand the true impact of social media networks and the users and communities that exist within these.

Based on this, what are some of the challenges faced and what are business getting so wrong

  • Social media is not a platform for hard sell or self-promotion – if the businesses push too hard, they could end up alienating their communities
  • Your business does not need to be on every social media platform – seek counsel from your communication specialist to ensure that you are using only those channels most relevant to your business
  • Social media requires time investment as communities need to be engaged constantly – businesses need to ensure there are representatives engaging with their online communities and responding timeously to any comments or enquiries

It is a common misconception that social media platforms are another outlet for businesses to drive sales.  Astonishingly, on average, only 1% of your online communities are likely to purchase your product or  service.

The question you may ask is:  “why then are users joining a business’s social media page?” With channels such as Facebook and Twitter, users who ‘like/ follow’ a page are often people with common interests and needs, looking for access to exclusive content  along with updates on the brand and its products or services and discounts.

On the flipside, why do users disengage from a brand?  We have found that some of the key reasons why brands are ‘unfollowed’ is due to a lack of interesting and exciting content.

What do Communities expect from a brand’s social media presence?  Admittedly, your fans or followers want to receive support but they also want to be inspired, learn, be entertained, receive rewards and earn status.

To effectively maximise on the benefits of online communities, we believe that a business must endeavour to provide users with a platform to exchange ideas and have conversations around newsworthy content without being bombarded with product offers.  It is important to grow a good community around the brand to ensure the brand benefits.

Who should manage a brand’s social media presence?  Every social media platform requires an informed community manager who is committed to their community and will engage with users in a manner that is consistent and within the framework of the brand.

As communications specialists, we manage our client’s reputation on a daily basis and community management is a mere extension of this.  It is crucial that businesses trust their community managers to effectively engage by entrusting them with their brands reputation.

Yes, we believe that a level of protocol must exist and guidelines do need to be adhered to but ultimately this is an organic platform for building relationships, encouraging discussions and nurturing passion, which contributes to elevating the stature of a brand.

Always remember that every community is made up of users who are human beings, who want to be recognised as such, with brands acknowledging how unique their similar needs may be.