You may have heard the story of how social media marketing was born, but you may not know how essential it’s become to the success of your business. In just one decade, social media has gone from an intriguing novelty to an absolute necessity if you want to run a successful business in today’s marketplace. Here are five reasons why social media is important for business, and why you can’t afford to ignore it.
1) Build Your Brand
Customers need to know who you are and what you stand for. Social media gives you an opportunity to let them get to know you a little better by providing a glimpse into your company culture, mission statement, and brand values. After all, a great social media strategy is all about building trust with your followers. The more opportunities you give them to connect one-on-one (instead of blasting out content), particularly around important milestones or big announcements, customers will see that there’s someone on the other end of that social channel—someone they can relate to and count on. Ultimately, they’ll feel like part of your community—and they’ll be more likely to do business with you in person because of it. You might also consider using social channels as an additional method of customer service. Whether it’s answering questions, helping solve problems, or pointing users toward helpful resources, social media provides an easy way to reach out and build relationships with your customers in real-time. And when people feel heard and appreciated, they’re less likely to take their business elsewhere down the road—which means more loyalty and repeat purchases! For instance: Have questions about our new pricing structure?
2) Engage Customers
With social media being such a powerful tool, there’s no reason not to use it as part of your marketing budget. Social media can be a great way to cut costs and save money. You may already have some of these tools available to you in-house; if so, congratulations! You’re ahead of many companies when it comes to harnessing social media power. If you don’t have these tools yet, don’t fret—there are plenty of affordable online solutions that let you create a Twitter account or Facebook page without breaking your business bank. Chances are your small business can even take advantage of free social platforms like Google+ and Instagram. Social networks will continue to grow, along with their popularity; now is a great time to get started with social media marketing.
4) Gain Insight
Social media can be a fantastic way to share a glimpse into your business, build relationships with existing customers and potential customers and stay on top of what’s happening in your industry. Knowing how social media can help your business also means knowing how to use it well. Set aside some time over a few days or weeks to get deep insight into each platform you want to utilize; really get inside them so you know exactly where they fit within your marketing strategy and how they might benefit you. You may even find that some platforms aren’t worth your time at all! Save yourself from frittering away precious marketing hours by knowing what works best for your brand, product or service before implementing it. Then, if you do decide to dive into social media, make sure that you have a team of people who are committed to managing it effectively—you wouldn’t hire just anyone off the street as your accountant or architect because those jobs require special expertise. Social media should be treated no differently: Because social media takes up valuable customer attention and touches customer emotions, having proper oversight is critical. Otherwise, you run the risk of turning off new clients by not taking social seriously enough.
5) Expand Reach
Whether you’re planning to grow an audience or sell a product, social media will help you get your message out and connect with new people. Make sure that your social media accounts are filled out with complete information, including opening hours and contact information, so that anyone who follows you knows how to find you in real life. This can also include social media links on your business card or website. Reach Out: Social media opens up avenues of communication like never before. Rather than relying on phone calls and snail mail, social media sites enable you to reach out directly to customers—and potential customers—and start conversations quickly. Social networking sites like Facebook make it easy to broadcast events and updates right into users’ newsfeeds. Be Social: While Twitter may not be known as a social network, it offers businesses just as many opportunities as Facebook, if not more. You can use Twitter to share articles, post pictures and videos, follow experts in your industry, answer questions from followers, and communicate with celebrities. You can also search for hashtags related to relevant topics (for example #socialmedia or #seo) to connect with even more people. Use Apps: One of the most time-consuming parts of running a social media account is actually updating it. Luckily, there are plenty of apps available that make posting and scheduling posts easier than ever before. Some apps manage all your social networks at once while others focus solely on one service. Once you pick one, you’ll no longer have to log into several different social networks throughout the day; instead, everything can be done through one convenient app. Also, Instagram now has hashtag support! Host Contests: Running a contest is a great way to attract attention to your brand or company and reward current fans. By creating a contest you run only once per year, you gain access to hundreds of potential leads without requiring ongoing engagement from current customers. Contests should be fun, interactive, and unique to your brand. They don’t have to cost a lot—just think outside of the box when designing a creative way for fans to enter. For instance, rather than asking them to like your page or send in their email address, consider hosting a photo contest or trivia night! It doesn’t need to be complicated: ask contestants questions about your products or services and give away free samples as prizes. Set up a dedicated Facebook event where everyone invited can RSVP, making it super easy for potential customers to plan ahead and participate in person. And remember, contests are more successful when they’re widely promoted across social networks. Get Social: If you aren’t already active on social media platforms like Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, you’re missing out on new ways to build your brand and interact with existing customers.
6) Enhance Communication
If you’re in business, social media should play a role in your marketing strategy. It’s one of many communication tools that can enhance customer communication, help build brand loyalty and spread goodwill across social media channels. Social media can provide a direct channel to users, allowing them to ask questions and get answers from customer service or even post their own feedback. A solid social media presence allows you to do what most businesses can’t – create a true two-way conversation with customers. Enhancing communication between brands and customers also strengthens brand identity because it shows that a company cares about its community, which helps attract new audiences as well as retain existing ones. Potential consumers see social media followers as an extension of brand identity, but they don’t necessarily recognize face value. Social media is an important part of an online marketer’s toolkit; there are plenty of social networks beyond Facebook, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, which serve specific purposes and will reap different rewards when used correctly.