If you want greater sales through social media in 2013, start by building your reputation

The 2102 Social Media Report from Nielsen is out and one thing is clear – social media usage shows no signs of declining thanks to smartphones and mobile apps. In fact, in July of 2012, users averaged 88.48 minutes, a number that jumped 58% to 121.18 minutes in July of 2012.

Most importantly, however, the report justifies investments in social marketing, advertising and engagement. Of those polled, 17% of consumers feel more connected to brands seen on social networking websites. Plus one fourth of social users polled have liked a social ad and 15% have shared a social ad. While from an ROI/conversion point of view, 14% of users purchased products through of a social ad.

Armed with this data, the most pressing issue for brands is how they command the attention of existing and new customers across social media channels. Yet when you consider the data in the ‘Frequency of Social Activities’ (below), the importance of building a strong reputation that drives word of mouth advertising is clear. For only by making an emotional connection with your customers based on shared values will you inspire them to become brand ambassadors that buy your products and promote them to others, and that is when you unlock the true power of social media to build your business.

To build your reputation through social media, you must first ensure leadership in your company has a clear idea of what it stands for and can articulate that purpose in a way that explains how your company is different or better than its competitors.

Second, leadership must make sure that this message is communicated to employees so that they understand what the company’s values. These values must then be translated into social media roles, engagement guidelines and crisis protocols within the company so that customers have an experience that aligns with the company’s marketing.

Third, the entire company must communicate these values consistently through its products, services and advertising. It’s this consistency that ensures customers talk about your brand with friends using their own social media channels. So as we leave for holidays, here’s a simple three-step goal for 2013:

1. Ask leadership to clearly define what the company stands for, its values and what it’s trying to achieve.

2. Educate employees about these values so they can act in ways that match the reputation of the company.

3. Tell customers what you care about and work with them to help achieve your company goals based on values that you share.

Do this and you’ll forge a critical emotional connection with your customers based on shared values that will inspire them to share and buy your products. Only then will the greater social media engagement across PC, tablets and mobile phones described in Nielsen’s Report drive awareness, sales and long term success for your company in 2013.

Of the three steps above, which presents the greatest obstacle to your company and why? For the full report click here.

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