Social Media: A Catalyst for Online Businesses
Since the early 2000’s social media has been used as a method to connect people. Whether that be connecting groups of friends, connecting companies with potential or current customers, or even connecting communities with social causes. Social media is our computer-mediated connection to others.
But lately, social media is being used as a platform for online businesses.
Following the first quarter of 2016, monthly active users of Facebook reached 1.65 billion; Twitter reached 310 million Instagram surpassed Twitter with 500 million. Instagram continues to gain popularity with online users.
Social media enables the exchange of information and ideas and, as technology continues to evolve, individuals may notice an over-reliance on online communities. Mainly, we are a society constantly checking our phones for a notification or text message.
Businesses like LuLaRoe, a women’s and children’s clothing line, are profiting from users’ constant attachment to mobile technology. The brand has become a popular phenomenon online and is recognized for its bold patterns and quality, comfortable material. LuLaRoe consultants are using Facebook and Instagram channels to promote these products, connect with customers and create events to prompt sale conversions. Aspiring consultants can request a “Pop-Up Boutique,” an event usually hosted in their home with the help of a current LuLaRoe consultant, who assists in planning and preparing for the party.
Business-savvy consultants post daily (sometimes even more) photos of themselves wearing the product, boasting about its quality, showing how it fits into their lifestyle and explaining how it’s helping them provide for their families. Just like any successful salesperson, consultants of this ever-growing brand use social media to build connections with their followers by sharing their story.
Storytelling is the foundation to this business’ success. That’s how company founder DeAnne Sidham sought success. Sidham wanted to provide for her family financially while also being able to raise her children at home. This desire is represented in LuLaRoe brand consultants, as well. Whether they are home full-time with their children or wanting to earn extra income in addition to their full-time careers, LuLaRoe is benefiting women just like DeAnne. Sharing their experiences as a professional or mom, or both is their way of connecting to future consultants and customers.
Another popular business conducted online is the Beachbody® Home Fitness empire, including affiliated products such as the 21 Day Fix®, Shakeology® and Insanity®. The business began through a series of infomercials but has since evolved through personalized coaching and a powerful social media presence. Similar to LuLaRoe, Beachbody coaches utilize social media to directly market themselves and the success they’ve experienced as a result of using the products. They also use social media to encourage others to join the movement towards a healthier lifestyle.
Because of social media’s global reach, coaches are able to reach a wider, more-diverse audience in order to grow their business. Coaches use Facebook and Instagram to illustrate how they use the products; outline weekly meals plans and show progress. A popular post occurs on #TransformationTuesday, when coaches and event clients post progress photos. These posts are a great way for coaches and clients to support and congratulate each other online. These posts are also a time for product users to share their story with others. Again, the role of storytelling is powerful tool.
Coaches also share how the income earned through their online business allows them to follow a healthier lifestyle and provide for their families. Anyone can become a coach, too. The college student who is looking to make extra money to cover costly college expenses to the new mom that yearns to stay home with her baby while still contributing to the household income. Coaches connect with online clients by talking about their struggles with weight, health, confidence, etc. These are common themes many of us experience today. If a potential client can see how a product or lifestyle has benefited someone else, they are more inclined to try the products as well!
It’s safe to say that we can wave goodbye to the brick and mortar stores of the past as new entrepreneurs move towards online platforms, like social media. I mean who doesn’t want to work from the comfort of their couch?
Social media will continue to grow online business for 3 key reasons:
Promote brands visually.
Consumers want to visualize a brand or product before they purchase. For brands like LuLaRoe and Beachbody, aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts capture consumers’ eyes and incite a desire within them to become a user. This visualization creates an opportunity to understand how others use the product. We also want to see results! Therefore lifestyle and transformation images are crucial to the converting sales.
If you are a user of social media you are most likely seeking connection in some form. Whether you want to be “in the know,” maintain current friendships or meet new friends, social media enables just that. Hashtags also allow people to connect by yielding similar posts. For example, searching #lularoe on Instagram will generate over 500,000 posts! Post content ranges from customers showcasing their LuLaRoe styles to promoting events.
Engage with related content.
Once connections are established between consultants and consumers or coaches and clients, the channels for engagement are open. In regards to Beachbody, coaches often congratulate their clients on successfully reaching a goal or thanking them for sharing a healthy recipe within the community. Engaging with posted content creates a snowball effect; friends of friends tend to see likes, comments or shares and are consequently exposed to the product or brand.
Although social media can be an overwhelming aspect of our lives, utilizing such channels to increase brand awareness and connect with consumers is a crucial tool for these internet-reliant businesses!
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Bethany Haberstroh–Content Strategist