Times are tough. Wallets are tight. We’re all hearing these phrases with great frequency as we weather the recession. And while there may be some truth to them, there is always an exception to the rule. Who would’ve guessed that despite massive layoffs, filings for Chapter 11, and tremendous budget cuts, online retailers are increasing spending on online marketing and social media? The National Retail Federation’s Shop.org and Forrester Research introduced a study this week showing that since the economy began to steadily slow towards the end of 2008, online retailers actually gained market share over competitors due to social media. In fact, many of these retailers are planning to increase budgets for social media this year.
And who can blame them? Retailers are feeling an enormous crunch in a market where consumers have been forced to reassess their needs as opposed to their wants. The trick to being successful during a recession is to do more with less, and it all boils down to two simple words: Social Media.
In a world where Yelp challenges the Yellowpages and Trip Advisor gives travel agencies a run for their money, it is important for any business owner to understand that the power of the consumer stretches much farther than just the almighty dollar. When thinking about social media, don’t think about the Return on Investment, think about the Return on Influence.
The ability to have direct interaction with consumers allows them to become more engaged with the brand and ultimately, serve as ‘influencers’ in the community. From blogs to Facebook to Twitter, consumers are already talking about what they like and don’t like. By investing in social media, companies can take some control over the message, test out different products on customers and start turning loyal customers into brand evangelists.
So what’s the bottom line? Social media is not just a fleeting trend. More and more companies are seeing the benefits social media can bring to their business. If there is such substantial growth for social media budgets during a recession, their prospects are unimaginable for when we’re out of this mess.