Social media has been prevalent as an essential marketing tool for a number of years, however, many businesses are still attempting to get a handle on how best to utilise social media effectively to support their own goals.
This form of communication is constantly evolving, disrupting and always-on. While most companies in Ireland today, from SMEs to multinationals, use social media, the proportion of companies that do it effectively, in a way that delivers real results, is relatively small.
Many remain confused by it and lack the information and experience needed to use this tool for maximum effect. In many cases, this leads to people just doing what they are doing in the way that they have traditionally done it.
By doing this, they are missing out on a real opportunity. For us at Just Eat, social media is at the heart and centre of our business, it is not just nice to do; it is essential that we use it.
Our customers live on social media, so as a channel, it's absolutely core to our day-to-day business. And this isn't just about brand or profile building, this is about driving real sales in real time. Our revenue will grow or fall depending on how we use our social media channels.
And while Just Eat is a relatively new business with technology at its centre, there is no reason why the approach and tools that we take to driving our sales and building customer loyalty can't be taken and deployed by existing businesses from all sectors.
More and more people are using their mobile devices to help inform their purchasing decisions and with the prevalence of apps, they are actually making the purchase there and then. No matter what business you are in, you can't ignore the trends.
While it's possible your business will survive, it will do so sluggishly and won't necessarily survive in the decades ahead. The consumers' needs and wants are changing, so organisations need to change and evolve in order to stay relevant.
There are some simple things that any business or organisation can do now to build confidence and capacity with social media.
1. View social media as a key consumer touch point
Like the supermarket till, social media should be viewed as one of the most significant consumer touch points. So significant, in fact, that experts have suggested that it has changed consumer decision-making for good, adding a huge importance to the post-purchase experience and evaluation stage.
2. Deliver engaging and shareable content
While advertisers often adopt unique and creative ways to catch consumers' attention through traditional marketing, social is noisier in many ways and requires a creative touch.
Uber recently launched UberGiving, a Simon Community initiative driven through social. Users could request the 'GIVING' option on their Uber app during a certain time and a car was sent to pick up items and drop them off to the Dublin Simon Community, free of charge. This sort of creative edge drives shareability and talkability both online and offline.
3. Understand where and how content is consumed on social media
The way consumers engage with content on social media is constantly changing, with video becoming an extremely important vehicle for delivering cut-through online.
Things like the Ice Bucket Challenge changed the way audiences become motivated online and we're now seeing another disruptive move towards live mobile video broadcasting.
In general, no matter what platform or method we use at Just Eat, we stick to the same mantra - engage, entertain, prompt and reward consumers.
4. Match your social approach with your brand and business goals
At Just Eat, our social approach is in line with the fun, tongue-in-cheek tone that we embody as a brand. We then match this with content that is engaging and matches our business goals in terms of sales.
One of our main objectives is to drive more orders through our app. We use social as a key vehicle to drive app installs and conversions, which we measure in the form of orders on the app, both through advertising and promotions. One way we did this recently was through an 'Appy Hour' promotion, giving consumer 15pc off their order on a recent sunny Friday evening as a post work treat.
5. Become nimble and always on
Social media is not a Monday-Friday, 9 to 5 resource. While an 'always on' approach to social is resource-dependent, adopting a nimble response strategy is key. We react in real time to events, news and even the weather to activate our followers to order.
6. Use social to listen to your consumers
Social has become a key way to understand how consumers interact with your brand, what they think about you and what they expect from you.
We have the opportunity to listen to our consumers like never before and adapt our offerings appropriately. Brands need to use this knowledge to build profiles, based on the lifetime value of their customers and then target similar 'lookalike audiences' who replicate their best opportunities for conversion from social media.
Social media might seem alien to you right now, but if you start slowly, build your expertise and only introduce it to the parts of the business where it can support your strategy, then you will reap rewards. Build slowly, adding more activity and channels as the confidence of your organisation grows. Good luck!
Edel Kinane is the marketing director of Just Eat Ireland
Sunday Indo Business