Social media has profoundly changed the way we all use the internet, and that includes how businesses interact with their customers.
In the years since platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn were first introduced, they have evolved from an occasional distraction to the focal point of many people’s internet browsing. Conversations and content that used to be spread across multiple sites can all now be found in the same place: your social media newsfeed.
Businesses that ignore this transition face a harsh reality. Social media is often the first thing people check when they go online, and it may even be the only thing they check on any given day. Without a presence on social media, your business may very well be invisible!
That’s why many businesses, such as art installation company studioSPACEnyc, have a social-first approach to their online presence. “If we look at the analytics of the website and how many people view my Instagram account, we’ll see 200 a day on Instagram and 15 on my website,” says its owner, Jacob Fisher.
Not being on social media also means you miss out on huge opportunities for advertising, customer support, boosting performance for your marketing campaigns and much more.
To help you understand why so many companies and small businesses take their social media marketing strategy seriously, consider the following five essential benefits and capabilities it provides below.
The first thing to understand about making your business active on social media is that you’re hardly shouting into an empty room. Facebook alone has 2.2 billion users worldwide, and 83% of U.S. adults under 50 have a Facebook account. Even among those 65 and up, 41% are active on at least one social platform.
Suffice it to say that’s there’s huge audiences at stake! While it may take a few weeks or months to find your footing, there is no shortage of potential exposure. Companies that create the right type of content and form an engagement strategy can quickly amass a following. This can happen especially fast when you leverage your existing network of friends and customers.
Just think of it as “word of mouth” transitioning to the digital age. By being available for mentions, shares and engagement on social media, you can create thousands of chances a day for new customers to discover you and existing customers to get reminded about what makes your business great.
Exposure to your brand on social media doesn’t just have to happen by accident. Each social media platform has its own set of powerful advertising tools that can be used to directly put your business in front of its most valuable audiences. Millions of businesses rely on these tools to drive their marketing goals, which is why social media spending nearly doubled to $31 billion from 2014 to 2016 and increased by an estimated 26% in 2017.
Facebook and Instagram, for instance, have incredible audience targeting capabilities for their ad campaigns. Local businesses can select demographics and geographic areas that perfectly fit the qualities of their most loyal customers. A new bakery can target people in their city or in certain neighborhoods, and it can even find people who recently announced their engagement!
These highly specific targeting tools ensure you’re not just sending out ads to people who won’t become customers. You also directly expose people to your business offerings within the same stream of content they browse every day.
Since the organic posts you create can also be “boosted” while using targeting, you can leverage paid social media to grow your reach beyond people who already like and follow your page.
The data you generate from these ads also creates valuable insights for how to make both your organic and paid marketing more effective. “Paid boosting can help the organic social team discover what works much faster and also play into paid ad creative ideas,” explains Depesh Mandalia of SMCommerce.
Businesses on social media can deftly juggle marketing and advertising with more meaningful outreach to their audiences and loyal customers. Answering people’s questions and participating in conversations can put your business top-of-mind any time they need the services you offer.
Customers absolutely prefer that the businesses they use be available for these types of interactions, as well. 48% of people said they will be more likely to purchase from a brand that directly interacts with customers and answers questions on social. 33% of people also now prefer to get customer support through social rather than a phone call.
Being able to wow people during these interactions pays off big, too. 71% of people who have a positive interaction with a business over social media say they’re likely to recommend that business to their peers. And since nearly three times as many people trust peer recommendations over ads, demonstrating how much you care via social counts for a lot.
Your opportunities for engagement don’t even have to be direct, either. One video game publisher searched for phrases similar to “I want the new [game name] but it’s too expensive” and saved all the users who made the comment. When the game went on sale, they reached out directly to these people, helping them sell over 70,000 copies of the game.
So get creative, listen intently, and seize every chance you have to make a good impression through the highly public social platforms.
The majority of businesses consider social media “essential” for marketing, beating out every other form of advertising out there. And it’s not just because of the capabilities described above, either. It’s really because social media tends to tie together all the other channels you use in a seamless way.
For example, you can:
All of these activities have the effect of increasing the return on investment for your marketing spending. You get to dramatically increase the exposure for your content while creating a pathway towards your other marketing channels and campaigns.
In this way, social media can reinforce just about everything your brand does while serving as your friendly, highly public face.
All the above benefits can make a significant difference when it comes to your business’s ability to earn new customers, clinch sales, and stay in touch with your most loyal repeat clients.
But, more importantly, if you’re not doing these things your competition likely will be. Ignoring the potential of social media basically leaves countless opportunities on the table — opportunities others can hungrily scoop up right from underneath your nose.
So take social media seriously, and don’t give your competition a foothold to develop more meaningful relationships with your best customers. Form a strategy, stay vigilant for chances to engage, create outstanding content, and let social media be the scaffold that makes your overall marketing apparatus stronger.
Ready to learn more about making social media work for your unique marketing goals? Drop us a line, and we’ll answer any questions you have and tell you how to get started creating some killer campaigns.