The flooring industry is moving positively ahead in the arena of social media and applications for Apple and Android products, and high-profile flooring companies are already on board with the latest social media developments even though many opportunities still lie ahead for companies to grow in this field.
We take this opportunity to showcase for you what some of the leading flooring companies in South Africa are doing on this front. Read further along in this feature for more information…
The fact remains that if you aren’t using social media yet, you’re missing out on a vast, untapped group of potential customers. These days, almost everyone is plugged in and connected online – Facebook has more than 900 million active users and Twitter has almost 300 million.
What benefits do small and medium-sized businesses get from social media? According to a recent survey from Social Media Examiner, 89% of small and medium-sized businesses report increased exposure and 75% report increased traffic as being the two greatest benefits of social media. Some of the other benefits cited were marketplace insight (69%), loyal fans (65%), lead generation (61%), and improved search rankings (58%).
With respondents receiving so many benefits from social media, it is little wonder that 79% have integrated social media into their marketing activities.
Let’s take a look at some of the various options available:
Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking website. It makes it easy for you to connect and share with your family and friends online. Facebook has even helped the web to become more open and social.
If you join Facebook, you’ll decide how you want to use its different features. Some people prefer to connect with just a few people, while sharing very little about themselves.
Others like to connect with as many people as they can, sharing their information openly and publicly. Simply put, there’s no single way to use Facebook – it’s all about discovering what works best for you.
On Facebook you can chat with and see updates and posts from friends and share photos and videos with them; share information on your profile page; join groups and events; play online games and use applications; connect with businesses and celebrities; and use social plug-ins across the web.
Your business is for your customers, and by using Facebook you can build relationships with them, reach new people and drive sales.
Over one billion people ‘like’ and ‘comment’ an average of 3.2 billion times every day. When you have a strong presence on Facebook, your business is part of these conversations and has access to the most powerful kind of word-of-mouth marketing – recommendations between friends.
Twitter is a social network and real-time communication service launched in 2006 and used by millions of people and organisations to share and discover information quickly.
Users can access the site via the web and mobile devices to exchange frequent bite-size updates of information called ‘tweets’ which are messages of up to 140 characters long that anyone can send or read. These messages or tweets are public by default and visible to all those who are following the tweeter.
Twitter allows you to follow other users you are interested in so that you will see their updates on your home page, which is an aggregate feed of all the accounts you’re following. Users share these tweets which are micro-bits of information that can contain things like photos, videos, quotes, article links and more.
Each tweet can have real-time conversations around hot topics, breaking news and interesting new content.
Twitter was able to disrupt traditional point-to-point messaging systems like e-mail by providing this one-to-many interface for rapid content delivery and search, but it has evolved from more than just a real-time communication tool into one of the world’s leading sources of social discovery and newsworthy events.
This open networking environment has also led to an entire ecosystem built around the Twitter platform (coined the ‘Twitterverse’) where creative people, designers, marketers and businesses can flourish together.
Twitter is an unbelievable resource for businesses to grow their audiences, increase traffic and generate more leads. With over 400 million tweets a day and 200 million active users, people tune into Twitter to bring them closer to the things they care about.
You should look to have at least a personal profile and a separate one for your business too! Having a great business profile gives your brand credibility on social media.
Some best practices on Twitter include writing good tweets, sharing relevant and interesting content and sharing with other people’s stuff. Every business website should also have Twitter buttons to share links and follow buttons to build their reach.
This is a tool for collecting and organising the things that inspire you. It is in effect an online pinboard.
A pin starts with an image or video you add to Pinterest. You can add a pin from a website using the Pin It bookmarklet or upload an image right from your computer. Any pin on Pinterest can be repinned, and all pins link back to their source.
A board is where you organise your pins by topic. You could pin ideas for remodelling your bathroom to your House Projects board, for example. Boards can be secret or public and you can invite other people to pin with you on any of your boards.
When you follow someone, their pins show up in your Pinterest home feed. You can follow all of someone’s boards or just the ones you like best. To manage who you are following, go to your profile and click Following. Your home feed is a collection of pins from pinners and boards you follow. It’s updated every time someone you follow adds a pin.
Pinterest will help millions of people discover your business and share it with others.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site that is mainly used for professional networking. One purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people with whom they have some level of relationship, called Connections. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.
This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways: A contact network is built up consisting of their direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (termed second-degree connections) and also the connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections). This can be used to gain an introduction to someone a person wishes to know through a mutual contact. Users can upload their résumé or design their own profile in order to showcase work and community experiences. It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one’s contact network. Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates. Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them. Users can post their own photos and view photos of others to aid in identification. Users can now follow different companies and can get notification about the new joining and offers available. They can also save (i.e. bookmark) jobs that they would like to apply for.
LinkedIn is an amazing tool to promote your product or service. It’s a place to start conversations with others in your field. It’s a place where having an up-to-date profile can land you your next big opportunity. And if you know how to use it well, the networking and growth potential is astounding.
YouTube, which is the second largest search engine after Google Search, is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share and view videos. It is extremely popular worldwide, where you can create an account at no cost and upload your own videos, as well as view videos others have uploaded.
Assuming that the quality and content is relevant, interesting and informative, a video uploaded on YouTube can help a brand build and strengthen its relationship with its target audience.
The popularity may not immediately be translated into financial benefits, but it definitely spreads the word about your brand. However, it is a daunting task to get your video ahead of the pack.
YouTube can be a very powerful audience-building tool but it’s most likely not going to be the end destination that benefits your business or an income source in itself. However, if you’d like to start earning some revenue from all your viewers, YouTube now offers a program called YouTube Partners that not only gives you access to revenue-sharing, but also tools to increase your viewership.
Leverage YouTube as an audience builder for the valuable video content that you create and then motivate that same audience to take actions that benefit them and your business.
We also take this opportunity to showcase what some of the leading flooring companies in South Africa are doing on this front; read their articles elsewhere in this feature for more information.
So many people don’t know what an ‘app’ is, so here in general terms is an explanation. ‘App’ is a noun, and it’s short for “application”. Application in this case refers to a software application – in other words, a software program.
But an app is a special type of software program that typically refers to software used on a smartphone or mobile device such as the Android, iPhone, BlackBerry or iPad, as in “mobile app” or “iphone app” or “android app”.
The phrase “Web app” or “online app” is also used in a business setting as an abbreviation for “Web application” or “online application” — meaning software that you access and use while online, via a browser, instead of software residing on your computer.
For small-business purposes, it’s sufficient to think of an app as being a software program that you use online or on mobile devices.
Web apps or online apps can be a faster, cheaper, more efficient way of deploying software in your business. Rather than buying a software licence, then having to install the software on your servers or local computers, keeping up with updates — all of which can be expensive and take time — you can simply go online and sign up for an account. In a few minutes you are using the software. And typically you pay a monthly fee, meaning that you don’t have to pay licence fees up front.
Mobile apps extend the reach and productivity of your business. Once you equip your mobile device and/or your employees’ mobile devices with apps, then you and they can perform all sorts of business functions while out of the office travelling, or making sales or service calls.
They will enable salespersons to save sales leads instantly; scan documents; access sales office information in realtime; and have interactive presentations on hand at all times.
Some of the favoured apps in South Africa include one from Telkom that is very convenient; Dropbox, to back up photographs from a device such as iPad to a laptop via Wifi; and apps from most banks to really make banking easy and efficient. There are hundreds of different Apps to choose from. You find Apps on the chosen device’s App Store which differs from device to device.
Prominent apps for personal use include those from mobile service providers to be able to monitor account and usage data; those on personal health and motivational life lessons; and religious apps for the whole family.