When social media first arrived on the scene, it wasn’t entirely clear how it could be used to help businesses grow. But as time passed, and the platforms become more ubiquitous, company managers began to realize that social media offered a new marketing strategy, one that could potentially help their firms reach an enormous audience.
Today, upwards of 88 percent of companies in the US are using some kind of social media tool, be it a page on Facebook, status updates on Twitter, or recruitment on LinkedIn. Social media is an excellent and often low-cost way for little-known businesses to extol the benefits of their brand and connect with new customers.
Sometimes, though, the benefits of social media for small businesses can remain clouded. What is social media marketing? And how exactly does using these platforms benefit your brand and ultimately help you make more money?
Social Media Is A Universal Tool
Whether you think it is a good thing or not, there’s no denying that social media is everywhere, especially now that we’re well into the mobile computing era. People walk around city streets with their eyes glued to their phones, wondering what’s going to happen next on their favorite social media feeds. Many social media users feel genuinely compelled to stay up to date with what’s happening on their platforms, checking friends’ statuses and, occasionally, getting information updates from companies.
Firms that can tap into this compulsion tend to do well. Yes, they get eyes in front of their brand and messages, but social media marketing allows firms to do much more. Companies can build deeper relationships with their customers on social media, from hosting a question and answer session to writing a post on an upcoming product. Traditional advertising channels did not allow this: they were one-way streets from the company to the customer, and not the other way around.
The era of mobile social media makes it more likely that customers will find you while they’re on the go. If they’re in a new city, they might have a look on their social media pages to see whether there are any local businesses in their immediate vicinity – such as bars, restaurants, clubs, auto shops, estate agents, etc. – that can meet their needs. Companies that avail themselves on mobile platforms quickly find that they are a magnet for people passing through, looking for convenience.
Social Media Boosts Customer Service
Small businesses grow into large companies on the back of customer referrals. Customers are the ultimate arbiter when it comes to spreading the word and consolidating your market share. Top-notch customer service is, therefore, an essential pillar of any company growth strategy. Customers need to feel that their experience with you is enjoyable from start to finish and that you’re there to support them as they use your products.
Social media provides an ideal platform for customer service excellence. Twitter allows firms to post regular status updates on everything, from planned closure of a particular branch to the latest release dates for new products. Tesla famously uses Twitter to tease customers about upcoming models and what they can expect, creating a buzz in the community.
Facebook is a useful platform for dealing with technical issues and troubleshooting. Customers can fire off a message on Messenger, and get a response immediately from your staff, no matter what their problem. Customers can also write on your wall, informing you of issues or registering complaints. You can then deal with these complaints in a way that is helpful to other customers who may be having similar problems. Data suggests that companies that resolve issues quickly generate between 20 and 40 percent more revenue per customer.
Social Media Allows You To Convey More Information About Your Business
In the olden days, companies had to fit their marketing messages into short advertisements, whether on the radio, TV or billboards. Because time and space limitations were so extreme, most companies focused on catchy jingles to get customers to remember their brand and focused extensively on products. But there was a problem: companies could never give customers a complete picture of who they were.
Social media is different. Unlike traditional marketing methods, it provides businesses with the time and space they need to build a fuller picture of who they are and what they can offer. Part of any robust social media marketing plan, therefore, is taking the time to think carefully about what kind of company persona is most likely to foster growth. Firms in specific industries can spread the word about their eco-credentials or corporate responsibility to attract new customers to the extent that just wasn’t possible in the past. Firms can also provide snippets of information that would be difficult to communicate through other marketing channels, such as the dates of upcoming events, the timing of a new product launch or a new range of services added to their portfolio.
But social media isn’t limited to giving customers information about your company; it’s also helpful for providing customers with answers to their most common questions. Search engines index information on your company profile and will display this information if it answers a user’s query. By merely being helpful on social media, you can attract people who wouldn’t ordinarily interact with your firm.
Social Media Is A Cost-Effective Marketing Channel
Entrepreneurs and business owners know that growing a business is expensive. It’s one of the reasons why so many enterprises remain stuck at a certain size. Social media can help change this by providing businesses with a cheap and easy way to grow. According to data from Marketing Donut, social media marketing is among the most cost-effective ways to reach users. It’s far less expensive than traditional marketing methods, such as placing an ad on a TV network or in a magazine, and it’s more targeted too. TV ads reach anyone who happens to be watching TV, whereas social media ads are much more likely to wind up in front of people who could genuinely make use of your products.
Most social media networks allow you to pay for advertising that appears in user’s feeds.
Social Media Reaches All Demographics
Some companies who cater to older demographics worry that social media won’t connect them with their customers. They believe that it’s something for the younger generation. But while this may have been true in the early days, say up to around 2009, it’s not correct in the modern era.
Research from Pew suggests that more than 65 percent of adults currently use social media networks and that penetration is growing, even in mature markets. While fewer people over the age of 65 use social media than in the pivotal 35 to 64 demographic, their numbers are large and rising. So yes, while it’s true that social media is not as popular among older people as it is among younger, it’s still incredibly popular. The absolute number of elders using the platform is in the millions, meaning that any firm who ignores these platforms risks a wasted opportunity.
Social Media Allows You To Better Understand What Customers Want
Steve Jobs famously quipped that he knew what customers wanted before they did. Most firms, however, don’t have this kind of prophetic foresight and so rely on customer feedback to improve their products and services. But there’s a problem: many companies don’t have reliable channels to get this feedback, relying on word-of-mouth and complaints from their most irate customers. Inevitably, they don’t get to see the big picture.
Social media helps to change this dynamic. Because customers can communicate with companies, it allows for two-way conversations where issues can be addressed in real time. Managers soon get a sense of what customers like, what they don’t like, what they want right now, and what they want in the future, allowing them to design better growth strategies.
Firms that are unsure who their customers are can also use social media to get to know them better. A firm might think that its typical customer is a woman in her forties might find out that it also has a large demographic in their 60s and beyond. By getting to know customers on social media, firms can better understand their tastes, preferences, and attitudes, allowing them to construct more powerful advertising messages. Companies that truly understand their customers can convincingly put themselves into their customer’s shoes and see the world from their perspective – a key advantage.
Social Media Can Boost Other Digital Marketing Efforts
A comprehensive social media marketing strategy involves working out how you can best use your social media accounts to boost your other marketing efforts.
Email marketing is still the most popular digital marketing method, despite now being more than twenty years old, with billions of emails sent out every year. One of the ways to boost your email marketing is to share your newsletters and marketing messages on your social media platform. Sure, it won’t affect open rates, but it will make sure that you get the information in front of more people. Facebook allows you to insert links on your page which automatically signs people up to your mailing list. So, if they like the content of your newsletters, your social media followers can sign up on the spot and get all the information they need straight to their inboxes.
Social Media Growth Strategies
So what do you need to grow your business on social media?
Create Incredible Content
The key to organic online growth is to create engaging, helpful content for your customers. Although necessary for boosting your ranking in organic search results, creating valuable content on social media accounts showcases the best of your business, establishes you as an authority, and attracts customers who need help with issues that you can solve.
Share Social Media Pages
You want people to know about your business. Social media sites allow you to share what you do with a wide range of people. You can share with the people you know, and they can share with the people they know, growing your reach.
Link To Your Site
The purpose of social media marketing is to get people to buy from you. Social media links to company websites can prove highly lucrative, especially if customers are inclined to buy from you once they get there. Carefully crafted links at the end of articles, for instance, can direct customers to paid services, increasing the chances of making a sale.
Optimize Your Social Media Accounts
Although SEO is usually focused on boosting company ranking on popular search engines, it’s arguably the case that social media platforms are becoming a kind of “rival internet,” providing everything users need from within the app. There’s often very little that people have to go outside of social media to get – shopping and finding out information can usually be done within the platform itself.
Companies, therefore, need to insert relevant keywords into their profiles and articles to ensure that they attract the right customers. Use keywords that people likely use in social media and search engine search bars.
Using hashtags is an excellent way to get people interested in specific topics. Just remember not to go overboard with hashtags and put dozens of unrelated links at the end of your content.
Use A Variety Of Platforms
Although Twitter and Facebook are the best-known platforms, they’re not necessarily the best for your company, or even the most engaging. Other more visual platforms, such as Instagram, are now coming to the fore and proving exceptionally popular. Businesses that rely on visual marketing, such as those in the food, travel and retail industries, can benefit enormously from showcasing their products on these kinds of platforms. Branching out allows you to make an impact in a broader community and potentially attract your target customers at lower cost.
Social media, if used correctly, can help you grow your business. It’s an invaluable tool which allows you to reach more customers and understand them better. Have you started using it yet?