Why is Social Media Important for Businesses?
The Importance of Social Media
Social media is undeniably everywhere. Its mere existence has seeped into the fabric of our everyday lives; it’s become a presence that is very hard to avoid or miss. From social icons found on all types of marketing materials, to brief ‘find us on social media!’ sentences on business cards, flyers and TV advertisements.
Not only is social media everywhere, but everyone has an account (or, more than one!). On average, people have 8.5 accounts each, according to Statista.com.
The other misconception is that social media is a saturated market. Yes, lots of people and companies use these platforms (3.8 billion people, in fact!), but, don’t worry, it’s not as inundated a space as you may think. You can still harness its power.
Why should you care about using social media for business and marketing purposes? Social media is also a great way to engage with customers, through starting conversations and interacting with them. But most importantly, it’s an opportunity to listen and observe.
Alongside this, having an online presence is also expected. It’s never too late to start working on your business’s social media. As customers expect you to have a social presence, this makes it more important than ever that you have an active social account of some, especially for delivering customer service. Without social media profiles, your business can appear unorganised and it comes across as less trustworthy to consumers.
Still not convinced your business needs a social profile, and wondering: what are the benefits for businesses having social media profiles? Well, there are five main benefits for businesses; these are:
- Brand building
- Lead generation
- Monitoring your competition
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing can be defined as using social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) to connect with an audience for three main reasons: to build brand awareness, to increase sales and to drive website traffic.
Marketing on social media involves publishing great, interactive and engaging content for followers to react to. Audience reactions can be in the form of likes, comments or shares, with the aim of directing traffic to the website, boosting product sales or increasing the number of customers using your services.
The difference between a ‘great’ and a ‘mediocre’ company’s social media presence is that a great company not only publishes likeable content, but they also listen to and engage with their followers. After which, they analyse the results and use their findings to run targeted advertising campaigns. Through running targeting social advertising campaigns, you can also reach a specific set of audiences at scale.
Effective social media marketing can be categorised into five main pillars:
- Planning and publishing
- Listening and engagement
- Analytics and reporting
Top tip: while publishing content is important, social media has evolved since its early beginnings in the noughties. Businesses should now take advantage of this evolution and use it in a myriad of ways, such as observing and monitoring public perception of their business, as well as what your audience is currently interacting with, and what topics are trending either locally or across the world. We advise businesses to regularly check their mentions, the conversations that are occurring on your posts as well as on others, and the responses.
Wait, don’t scroll down just yet, we have one more tip because we’re generous like that.
Bonus top tip: Want to know how well your business is performing on social media? Make sure that you analyse reach, engagement and sales with dedicated analytic tools. Often these can be found on the social media business platform under ‘insights’ or ‘analytics’. There are some interesting findings to keep in mind, so be sure to dip your toe into this section every now and then.
Why Should You Use Social Media to Promote Your Business?
Did you know that roughly 45% of the population use social media on a daily basis? That’s 3.5 billion users who are actively scrolling, liking, sharing, commenting and posting. We’re living in an unprecedented age of developing modern technology and social media is a huge part of it.
Our lives are forever changed since the introduction of social media in the early part of the noughties. Many of us remember the evolution from Myspace to Bebo to Facebook and where some of us are still now. And these social platforms are not going away any time soon. They’re adapting, evolving and growing. The active daily users are only increasing due to the advancements in mobile technology and ease of accessibility via apps.
With this astounding user statistic above in mind, are you harnessing the power of social media? If not, why not? The active users present on social platforms are plentiful. So how does your current social marketing strategy shape up in trying to engage a handful of them?
Naturally, we can’t engage every user on every social media platform. We can’t engage them all. This isn’t a game of Pokémon, and we’re unlikely to “catch ‘em all”. But, that’s ok, as we wouldn’t necessarily want or need to, depending on our business, and the types of products and services we offer.
Even captivating a handful of those 3.5 billion users on social media can make vast improvements to our overall marketing goals, business and sales. In Pokémon, it can be likened to catching a Tyranitar; this is FAR more valuable in the game than catching a Zubat or a Pikachu. A Pikachu may be cute and have captured our hearts, as well as be the face of the game, but as a character, it provides very little to no return on investment (sorry, Pika!).
Social media, when harnessed, can help your business grow and capture the right attention and audience – think big, stay targeted, and remember: you can do better than a Zubat. Aim for the Tyranitar.
You’ve heard that Facebook is still the biggest social media platform in the world. That’s not fake news, it is still the biggest platform.
And, to be honest (unless you’re a Gen Z’er who statistically has boycotted the platform), you probably already know that everyone’s using it. I mean, both your Gran and that odd, outrageously opinionated Uncle that everyone only ever sees at Christmas but is so glad afterwards that is in fact only once a year they visit (you know the exact one I mean), are all prolific users. You yourself even refresh your social feeds multiple times a day, but perhaps you can’t see how it’s relevant to your business? Perhaps, you assume that your customer base won’t be looking for you via social media. Well…
They are looking for you.
And they’ve noticed the lack of social presence.
In fact, they are searching for your business right now, but you’re not there, or you’re not very active; this puts them off purchasing or using your services. When potential customers look closely at your feed; they notice that the last post was updated: ‘January 2016’. Because of this inactivity, they assume you’re out of business and unorganised.
‘You must be’, they roll their eyes thinking, ‘why else wouldn’t you have posted an update?’. Especially right now, during the Coronavirus pandemic; it’s more important than ever to keep customers updated about your business. Are you open? Are you closed? Are you running your business differently due to the change in rules or because of the lockdown?
And then, after seeing your inactive social media, your potential customer hastily moves on in their search to the next company.
Your competitor’s last post was 1 day ago. ‘Much better’, they think as they confidently give them a call or submit an enquiry via their website. From mere social presence and activity alone, customers can feel reassured that their custom will be much better received with an active social presence compared to an inactive one.
Reassure your customers that you’re still there. Post a status update, stay relevant, and keep an active online presence. It really is a matter of survival in this new, ever-changing and modern world. Your online activity (or lack of) could be the tipping point for many customers from a simple profile visit to a subsequent conversion or sale.
Don’t neglect what your competitors have already clocked on to: the power of social. With 45% of the population already online – every day – you’d be a fool not to be using it to grab a few moments of their digital attention.
How to Choose the Best Social Platform for Your Business
What are the different social media channels out there, and what are they used for?
Nowadays, there are a fair few social media platforms to choose from: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and more. But, which ones are right for your business? And what type of content should you post on which platform?
Choosing the right platform
This is the most popular and widely used platform in the world (rivalled secondly by WeChat and Instagram). In the first quarter of 2020, there were 2.7 billion active users on the site. On this social media platform, posts can be boosted, scheduled and monitored with ease. The key to succeeding on Facebook is keeping on top of any algorithm changes and updates, as well as making sure posts are targeted to your audience. There are so many users on the platform that it is essential (to save both time and money!) that your business is targeting your posts to the right audience for maximum engagement and effectiveness.
Now owned by Facebook, this platform is the fastest growing social media platform. You can only post images, making it extremely visual – perfect for business to show off their products and services in all their pretty, unfiltered glory. The users on this platform are predominantly the younger generations (e.g. Gen Z and Millennials). Instagram is also almost entirely mobile, with very basic capabilities on the web version.
This social media platform is centred around the slogan ‘join the conversation’, and the act of ‘tweeting’. It provides a great platform for businesses to engage with relevant, real-time industry conversations, all without leaving the ‘office’. By following the right accounts, you can ensure that you’re the first to hear about any important industry updates from experts in your field. The 280-character limit helps keep your wits sharp too!
You can view this platform as a professional dashboard, a space for you to network, share articles, and other business-related content. It is definitely not the place to share your personal weekend plans or that hilariously funny ‘epic fails’ video. This platform is perfect for providing potential clients and employees with useful information and insights into your business.
The main takeaway: know the difference between each social platform and use them according to their intended purpose, and don’t forget to keep on top of the algorithms!
What are the biggest dos and don’ts for your business’s social media profiles?
What to do:
- Interact as much as possible on your chosen platform. Interact with customers, other users, other companies. Join in on conversations, share and comment upon content both in your industry and beyond.
- Be consistent with your postings. Make sure you stick to a regular posting schedule and keep active.
- Know your platform. We’ve spoken about algorithms before, but this is really the gold nugget to success on social media: knowing your chosen social platform inside out, and keeping on top of any updates or changes.
What not to do:
- Avoid controversy. Nobody likes drama, so don’t create it, or engage in it.
- Don’t just copy and paste content when cross-posting across multiple social media platforms. Make sure your content is unique to your audience on that specific platform, tailor each post accordingly.
- Over-rely on your social media channels. While it’s great to be posting regularly, and building an engaged audience, you shouldn’t lose sight that an audience’s engagement needs to be directed somewhere beneficial for your business. Yes, it’s fun to talk to Barbara on the regular as you’re developing a great rapport. But, don’t lose sight of your commercial goals, make sure that you direct your increased exposure somewhere (e.g. to your website or another point of contact, with the aim to increase conversions or sales) – because as nice as it is to chat to dear ol’ Barb on the reg about her plans for lockdown hobbies, your social media marketing efforts need to show ROI for your business.
How to Harness The Power of Social Media For Your Business and Turn it Into Revenue
What and when should you post?
For reliable engagement, you need to look at the peak times in which customers are drawn into scrolling through social media. This falls between the times of 8am and 8pm each day. For more specific information and tailored to your audience, we recommend experimenting with posting at different times and on different days of the week to see which your audience responds most to.
Struggling to think of what to post on social media to your business profile? Here are some ideas for when your creative juices aren’t flowing!
- Take a picture of your workspace – a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your business helps build trust.
- Ask a question
- Introduce your newest employees – people love to see the people behind the corporate logo, make your business approachable and post some friendly faces of the people who work for you – it also helps build human connection
- Share something popular – this could be as simple as the most popular product that you know your customers love (and keep buying!). If it’s popular in real life, it’ll be popular online too.
- Interview a customer or share customer reviews and testimonials. People like to see that others know, like and trust you, this will help them feel more confident in purchasing from you. By showing real people using or talking about your product or business, this helps build trust and confidence.
- Post a ‘Fill in the blank” question or statement. This is a great piece of content if you want to encourage customers to engage with you and share their ideas.
- Share something funny. The entertainment factor is a big reason why people go on social media. By sharing something light-hearted and funny, it gives you the opportunity to have fun with your followers and customers.
These are just a handful of ideas to get you started on building your online social media presence and profile!
How to develop a social media strategy
As with any successful marketing campaign or strategy, it requires goals or objectives, planning and research, followed by perfect execution. As a starting point, set goals that make sense for your business as this will allow you to figure out what you want out of social media.
Your business goals could be: increasing brand awareness, generating leads and sales, growing your audience, increasing your community engagement, or increasing web traffic.
When you have figured out your goal, you can then begin researching your target audience. Don’t make assumptions about them, instead, take the time to get to know your audience as this will greatly influence your social media marketing strategy. You can look into audience demographics and analyse your analytics to build up a picture.
As with any strategy, your social media strategy should be data-driven. While it may be tempting to just take a look at the vanity metrics (e.g. likes), you need to dig deeper into your analytics data and make sure your business goals are aligned and being met. Keep an eye on these metrics: reach, clicks, engagement and hashtag performance.
To help in your social media strategy creation, it is also important to take a look at what your competitors are doing. By conducting a competitor analysis, this information can be used to inform your own promotional strategy. If you know what your competitors are doing, you can clearly differentiate yourself, and do something different. Let your creativity fly and set yourself apart.
After all this, you can begin curating engaging content. Fundamentally, this is what your strategy is centred around. To help you organise and schedule your content, you can use a social media management tool such as Hootsuite. This enables you to schedule posts in advance and keeps track of what type of content you’re posting and how regularly.
Need inspiration? Here is an example of an excellent social media campaign – we provide an analysis of why they worked, and what you can learn from them, as well as implement in your own social media marketing strategy.
Social Media Campaign Example
Company: Innocent Smoothies
Campaign: Launch of New Breakfast Smoothie (‘Up and Oat’)
What Did They Do?
Innocent didn’t launch their new product ‘Up and Oat’ without creating a real ‘fake news’ cereal of a storm first. It was brilliant. The first introduction to the new oaty drink was with a side-by-side product post detailing a collaboration with Heinz beans. ‘How outrageous!’, the people of Twitter cried. Beans? Cold? In a smoothie? The world of social media imploded on itself.
The beauty of this post is that it has elements of fake news – it’s a spoof, a joke – and, like wildfire, the news of a Bean-based smoothie’s existence spread far and wide. Some lovin’ it. Some disgusted. Perfect for an effective new product launch. No one could decipher whether it was real or not? This only added to its brilliance and intrigue. You couldn’t avoid this post’s presence on the internet. It baffled, amused and bewildered the masses.
With people constantly asking and questioning whether or not it was real or not.
Like fake news often does, it spreads. It’s sensational and hyped up. This furthered the spread, and while not in the immediate limelight, their new product was being seen by thousands of people all across social media.
What Makes it a Great Social Media Campaign?
This campaign by Innocent is a clever strategy as it plays on the idea of ‘fake news’, which helps the new product launch spread further – we all know that fake news spreads faster than the truth. It’s sensational and we can’t help but consume it.
This campaign is also a comparison between the two products, Oat naturally wins as it sounds far nicer and tastier – plus it’s now memorable. Beans vs. Oats. A bean-based smoothie sounds ludicrous, but by this point of 2020, it could equally be real (it’s not) as nothing can surprise us now.
Also, this campaign creates that sense of ‘this can’t possibly be real, no way have they actually created this’. We know it’s fake news, it’s obvious, but this doesn’t matter, it still excites and interests us. We want to talk about it because it’s silly, wild and fun.
If you can harness any of these emotions in your social media campaigns, you’re on to a winner.
Other brilliant social media campaigns (in our opinion) that you can take a look at for inspiration are:
Contact Active Internet Marketing (UK)
Don’t have the time to dedicate to growing your social presence? Our team at Active Internet Marketing (UK) is full of digital experts and social gurus, all of whom understand how to get the most out of your online platforms.
Every social platform is different, just as every business is. We’ll match your business with the most appropriate platforms and then get to work. By monitoring and maintaining your profiles and interacting with your audiences, we take this time-consuming process off your hands.
Get in touch with Active Internet Marketing (UK) to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our business development team. We’ll get to know you and your business, and explain what we have to offer. In the meantime, why not download our free social media white paper for a simple introduction to this often daunting world? There’s plenty in there to help get you started before you pick up the phone to us!