Where Does Your Social Media Garden Grow?
If you don’t water your garden, your plants will die. If you don’t plant seeds in your garden, nothing will grow. If you completely ignore the plot of land, weeds will take over.
This analogy can easily be applied to social media marketing – an organic form of marketing that takes patience, persistence, and time.
Social Media as Word of Mouth Marketing
More so than most, local businesses grow by word of mouth, and by nurturing relationships with loyal customers. At its fundamental level, social media marketing is exactly that – a place to nurture those connections and facilitate word of mouth. It is a form of marketing that cannot be ignored, especially by “the little guy.” Once you understand and accept that your customers who participate in social media — and they are there – have a stronger voice and a much larger reach, it is easier to see the importance of being involved as a business.
How do you know what is being said about your business? Are you simply content when a customer comes in and tells you how much they love your store or appreciate what you are doing for them? Did you know that 62% of the time when people recommend a business or brand, they do it on Facebook? 
It is only logical to have a “plot” where your customers can easily plant those seeds, those tokens of appreciation. Facebook, and other social media platforms, also make it easy for you to water those seeds. It gives you a place to acknowledge their feedback, show your appreciation for their loyalty, and help solidify their relationship with your brand.
What about those people who aren’t satisfied with your product or service? Do they come in to tell you about it? Only 3% of people will directly tell a business about their negative experience, but on average, they will tell four other people. To compound that, “almost half of shoppers say they avoid a particular store because of someone else’s negative experience.”  Social media gives them a place to let you know they aren’t happy. The public setting can be scary; but, at the very least, you know about it and can respond accordingly.
Before you hurry off to create a Facebook page, there is more to consider. What are the best seeds to plant? How often do you water and fertilize? A flourishing garden takes some preparation. I will address these elements next time. For now, consider the value of social media marketing. It’s not easy to measure the return on investment in social media marketing, but consider the risk of not growing a social media “garden.”
(1) Source: North American Technographics Empowerment Online Survey via Mashable.com
(2) Source: www.churchofcustomer.com, from a study by Verde Group and Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania