Why social media is critical for business today

Today, social media is a marketing essential but knowing how to use it effectively for your business is the key. To anyone who is not an expert in social media marketing, knowing how to use it to get the best results could seem like a daunting thing to learn, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply taking one more step back and looking at why social media is important can make the how a whole lot more straightforward.

Attendees at Breakfast at the Next Level on the 2nd of April will get to hear from Kevin Webb, the Managing Director at Spring Gully Foods. Anyone in South Australia is likely to be aware of the Spring Gully story and the pivotal role social media played in their spectacular turnaround.

Spring Gully Foods were able to tap into one of social media’s greatest strengths, people power. But there are more reasons social media is a business marketing essential today.

Do we really need social media for our business?

At first, many businesses looked on social media as a marketing non-essential. Sure, they thought it’s nice to be able to interact with your customers and show your brand personality and great customer service, but if you don’t do it, nothing bad will happen. And it didn’t.

But gradually, businesses began to understand the distribution potential of social media and thought that if they just put their offers and self-promotion out to their followers, they just might pick up some new leads and sales. Again, they soon realised that doesn’t happen either.

In recent years, as marketers have become more digitally savvy and search engines are respecting social, it’s become an integral part of the marketing in many businesses.

Here’s why social media is so critical to business now.

Social media helps with SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a major digital marketing specialty of its own and everyone is trying to impress search engines like Google with their website so they appear in the first few pages of a Google search.

Google and other search engines use highly complex algorithms to decide whether the pages on your website are likely to be valuable to a Google user. Factors like relevance of content, newness of content, site traffic, internal and external links and many more are taken into account in an effort to deliver up search results that are most likely to match what the Google user is looking for.

One of the important factors that search engines take into account is ‘authority’. There are many ways Google evaluates the authority of your content but one of those ways is how much it is linked to, liked or shared on social media.

Creating compelling, shareable content that relates to your business or product is the first step. Google loves that too. Then, sharing it on the most appropriate social network like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn where people can actually read it, like it and share it around their networks is the key to unlocking the SEO power of social media.

When it comes to creating sharable content for social media, try to develop a mix of content types including blog posts that explore something interesting, shocking or thought provoking, images or quotes, video and simple status updates. The blog posts should be the meat in the meal as they’re what will get you the SEO benefits in the long run, but you can never forget that social media is, at the end of the day, ‘social’ so a well considered ‘spattering’ of lighter content balances your social presence nicely.

Social media opens up massive distribution

The right content that people read and share can be spread far and wide through social media, opening up a massive distribution channel that most businesses simply couldn’t afford to buy.

Not only are you developing your website authority as we just discussed, but you’re also reaching potential new leads in the process. That’s why the ‘right’ content is critical.

Your content should ideally be targeted to your most likely customers so the eyes reading it are more likely to be interested in what you do. So it’s not just about creating shareable content, it’s about creating content your typical customer is likely to share and like.

Social media is not the place to generate instant sales, although there are some exceptions to that rule like Spring Gully Foods who used Facebook to rally their customers. Generally, social media is a slow-burn investment that augments your other marketing strategies. Keeping that in mind helps you craft a content strategy that is in line with your business goals and your target market.

Social media harnesses people power

This is the essence of the Spring Gully social media story, although Kevin Webb will reveal more of the details at the April Breakfast; they were able to use social media to rally their customers behind their cause. In just 2 weeks, they went from zero to 15,000 likes on Facebook as customers pulled behind the household name they cannot live without.

Not every business or organisation has a cause so powerful to leverage this social media advantage. In Spring Gully’s case, they had instant brand recognition and many generations of loyal followers already, so rallying them on Facebook was easier than it might be for a younger business.

But don’t worry if your business is younger, there’s still a chance you have something, do something, stand for something that is meaningful and get’s to the heart of other people. In fact, it could be the very thing that ends up differentiating you from your competitors.

Charities and other not for profit organisations often use the people power element of social media to achieve their goals, but anyone with a good story, a good cause or a strong philosophy that’s compelling can use social media to their advantage. Think about what you do that’s different and why. Consider what your loyal customers love about your business and get to the bottom of the reasons why. It may even work in reverse; maybe it’s something you shoukd or could do that would create a powerful competitive advantage. Think about it.

Remember: Social media is social

Social media is conversational. You will not win on social media by simply showing people a product and asking them to buy it. You also won’t get far by posting pictures of your building (unless it’s on fire) or dull updates about new product deliveries.

As long as you remember social media is social, you’ll know how to keep the conversation going and keep it interesting. Think of it this way, you’ve invited some people around to your place, they accepted and now you just need to make sure they enjoy themselves. Balance the conversation as you would at your party. Ask questions and engage your visitors.

Whether you already have a social media presence or you’re yet to make the leap, knowing why social media is important can help unravel how to use it most effectively.

If you’d like to learn more about how Spring Gully Foods used social media to engage their customers and turn their business around, book your tickets to attend Breakfast at the Next Level on Wednesday 2nd April, 2014 when host Stan Kontos will interview Kevin Webb. Breakfast at the Next Level is South Australia’s premier business networking event, meeting on the first Wednesday of each month for a hearty breakfast and words from inspiring and accomplished guests in business, success, wellness and wealth creation. Tickets for this event are just $48 and can be purchased from SOL Results here.

Saving Spring Gully Foods

In 1947, an iconic South Australian brand was born – Spring Gully Foods was founded by Edward McKee on an orange orchard he purchased for 30 pounds in the Adelaide suburb of Rostrevor. He added hens to the farm he called Spring Gully for fertiliser for the orange trees and of course a new product line – eggs.

The early days of Spring Gully Foods

The Spring Gully brand is born

At first, Spring Gully farm supplied oranges and eggs to local stores. It wasn’t until Ted’s customers started to want his pickled onions all year round (and not just for Christmas), that the Spring Gully Pickles business emerged.

Other family members joined to help and the business expanded with new facilities and broader distribution, supplying supermarkets in South Australia and Western Australia.

The emergence of a household name

In 1993 the company moved into their purpose built premises at Dry Creek in Cavan, South Australia. The facility enabled Spring Gully to meet their stringent quality control standards, plus provide room for continual expansion.

Over the next decade, the Spring Gully brand had established itself in the Eastern States of Australia and into New Zealand, as well as actively developing export markets in the Asia Pacific region.

Today, Spring Gully Pickles is just one of a group of popular Australian brands which form the recently founded parent company, Spring Gully Foods Pty Ltd, still family owned and operated, with an experienced fourth generation team continuing the expansion of the business into the future.

Strategic growth and acquisitions

Spring Gully Foods has acted on the opportunity to purchase a number of leading companies in recent years. Utilising the production, marketing, distribution channels and administrative infrastructure already established for Spring Gully Pickles, the company has been able to easily accommodate the recent grocery acquisitions of Leabrook Farms Honey and Gardener as well as a bottled water product called Nuqua.

Spring Gully Foods rangeSpring Gully manufactures a range of traditional food products, including  gherkins, onions, Worcester sauce, green tomato pickles and sweet mustard pickles and has a workforce of around 42 people.

Crisis point

In April, 2013 Spring Gully faced almost certain closure. A sudden drop in sales left the company with overall debts of around $11 million and it called in an Administrator to take control. The Administrator, Austin Taylor of Meertens Chartered Accountants, believed he would have little option other than to wind Spring Gully up without a massive and immediate turnaround in sales.

News that the iconic third generation Adelaide company faced closure sparked a  unprecedented show of support by South Australian consumers, supermarkets, media and the public.

Almost overnight, the company was able to generate new sales and contracts that enabled the Administrator to continue to operate the company.

Spring Gully turns a corner

So massive was the show of support that Spring Gully was forced to add a second shift as major supermarket chains responded to public support with new orders and contracts.

On July 1, unsecured creditors voted at the second creditors meeting to accept a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA), enabling the company to return to family control.

Under the terms of the DOCA, unsecured creditors will receive 100 cents in the dollar for outstanding debts, with quarterly dividend payments being made until creditors have received full restitution.

Spring Gully has now embarked on a process of rationalising and expanding its range to make its offering more relevant to modern consumers and is also in the process of upgrading its Dry Creek factory, with the assistance of a $576,000 State Government grant for new equipment.

“The only reason we have a future is because of the public support we received. We owe a huge vote of everyone who supported us and continue to support us.,” Mr Webb said.

If you’d like to hear first hand how Spring Gully foods managed their way through a crisis that would have certainly ended most businesses, attend Breakfast at the Next Level on Wednesday 2nd April, 2014 when host Stan Kontos interviews Spring Gully Managing Director, Kevin Webb. Tickets for this breakfast are just $49 per person (including a hot breakfast) and can be purchased online through SOL Results here.