Social media sites are addictive. In fact, Internet addiction disorder was considered a possible addition to the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders released in 2013.
More than half of people acknowledge they have some addictive behavior when it comes to social media. Consider the following:
- Fifteen percent of the global population – more than a billion people – visit Facebook regularly.
- Instagram garners 8,000 likes for its users every second with 75 million people using it daily.
- LinkedIn reports that 40 percent of its members visit the site daily, and two new members sign up every second.
Why? What makes these sites so irresistible? A number of different studies have attempted to answer that question:
- Methods of communication have changed. Face-to-face and telephone conversations have been supplanted by emails, chats and text messages. Social media sites allow users to easily communicate with others, giving them a feeling of being connected.
- People enjoy sharing with others. Researchers at Harvard University found that the area of the brain that is associated with pleasure was stimulated by receiving money, eating and disclosing information about one's life. Disclosure triggered the highest level of pleasure if the details were not secret from family or friends.
- Social media sites provide an opportunity for users to receive validation. Approximately 74 percent of consumers admit that their purchase decisions are influenced by social media at some point during their purchase journey.
- With the ability to share links of videos, articles and humorous stories, social media sites can be quite engaging. A typical Facebook user may sign in just to check messages, then end up spending hours following links to other sites.
Social media sites provide users a great deal of control in creating personalized experiences. For example, they can easily adjust their settings to block feeds from specific users, choose whether or not to receive email notifications about certain activities and much more.
Given these qualities that draw people in, having a social media strategy is essential for any successful business. Don’t overlook that you can take the elements that make social media so irresistible, and use them in your other marketing efforts, as in the examples below:
- Learn your customers' preferences for receiving communications from you. For example, if they state that they want to receive emails or texts, leave them off your call list. (Give them what they want.)
- Provide an opportunity for people to share their experiences. Invite them to post reviews on your website or comments on your social page.
- Pay attention to your "social reputation." Monitor the online activity and comments about your brand. Respond publicly to negative comments to demonstrate your willingness to address issues promptly and thoroughly.
- Turn loyal customers into brand advocates who will promote your company on their own social pages. Consider rewarding your most engaged customers with insider deals, special offers or loyalty points.
- Provide an engaging experience at every touchpoint. Sales pitches have been replaced by content that nurtures a relationship between you and your customers. Give them content that directly answers the question, "What's in it for me?"
No matter how interesting your content may be, it might as well not exist if it is not relevant to the recipient. Personalize your marketing efforts to the greatest extent possible while making sure you offer something for everyone, so no one feels excluded.
Your customers want to feel that a genuine connection exists between you and them. You might not be able to make your marketing materials as addictive as social media, but you can engage your customers in ways that will help you build and nurture relationships. It is possible to make each customer feel he or she has your full attention.