Social media is a key part of a successful Inbound Marketing strategy. Having accounted for your business provides you with a great number of benefits besides just being caught up with today’s pandemic. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing or misusing social media! You will find that it’s among the most powerful tools of becoming the dominant player in your niche, perhaps even your industry.
The social media demographics point to the importance of social media for business success. Facebook, the juggernaut, alone has 1.4 billion daily active users and 2.14 billion active users worldwide – and that there, my friends, is a goldmine of opportunities for your brand and business! Just imagine the power and potential when you tap into Facebook as well as other social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, each one of which has its own unique market.
There’s also the fact that social media is a fast, affordable and effective platform for reaching more people – millions more, for that matter – than you could ever hope to reach with traditional media, such as television, radio, and cable. Think of social media as your best platform for getting your brand out there, in more ways than one, and you’re taking the first step in harnessing its power.
Here’s how it will benefit your business.
Building Your Brand
Keep in mind that your brand represents who and what you are, what you aspire to be in the minds of your customers and others, and what you plan on being in the future. What better way to showcase it than through social media, a place without physical boundaries but with unlimited potential?
Building your brand through social media happens in numerous ways. First, it can increase your target customers’ awareness of your brand, especially as nearly half of the world’s population uses it in one way or another. You can reach new audiences, even target specific cohorts, using social media – and demographics certainly plays an instrumental role here.
Tip: Instagram is perhaps the most effective platform since studies show that 60% of its users say they found new products on it and many use it for their buying decisions.
Second, it puts a face to your brand and, thus, increases your target customers’ trust in it. Think of it as using social media platforms in humanizing your brand, providing your audience with real-world proof of your existence and reliability, and of showcasing your value. In short, you’re creating real and meaningful human connections even without face-to-face contact in the physical world! How great is that?
Third, it’s useful in establishing your brand as the authority of your industry, a thought leader and a trendsetter. Your posted content, usually including photos, graphics and words are obviously the way to go about it. You’re providing information about a wide range of topics in your industry, perhaps even events outside of it that has an impact on it, which builds consumer trust even more.
More importantly, being an active presence on social media means staying in the minds of your target audience – out of sight, out of mind definitely applies even in the virtual world. With numerous brands making their presence known on social media every day, you can’t afford to be pushed to the sidelines at any time by these newcomers. Since most social media users tend to log in at least once a day, many numerous times a day, you have to connect with them every day, too.
Communicating with Customers and Others
Your customers, investors, and partners as well as stakeholders, among other audiences, want to establish regular, clear and proper channels of communication with your company. The best way to do it – because it’s easily accessible, allows instant views (i.e., unlike snail mail) and allows for creativity – is through social media. Aside from the obvious posted content on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you can communicate with them through private messaging, group chats and threads.
Social media can be used as a communications platform in numerous ways, too.
- For reputation management, particularly in highlighting the positive things others say about your brand and addressing the negative things (e.g., complaints) in an appropriate and prompt manner. Don’t believe the saying that bad publicity is still bad publicity – what happens on the Internet will likely stay on the Internet. You can do damage control but it’s always best to avoid the damage in the first place.
- For crisis communication, a must consider that things can quickly become viral on the Internet and often when we least expect it to be. While you don’t want to be in a corporate crisis related to customer complaints, you should be prepared for it, whether you’re a large company or a small business. You may think that letting it blow over by staying silent is better but in the virtual world, it usually isn’t the best course of action – addressing a crisis ASAP is often the way to do it.
- For audience engagement, particularly for direct interactions with followers and customers. Again, social media is a place to put a face to your organization as well as to engage them in meaningful conversations, not just in lead generation and conversions.
- For providing customer support and service, especially as most people turn to social media for information on products and services, brands and companies, and avenues for redress. Many even use social media to air their complaints and you’ve better have a quick response to them.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of customer engagement through social media, among other communications channels! With them, you will be able to grow your business and reach; without them, you may be nothing more than an obscure brand going under.
Growing Your Business
Customers are at the heart of your business and, thus, it makes sense to reach out to them when you’re planning on business growth. Again, social media makes it easier and faster to reach out to audiences and here is way that it’s possible.
- By increasing traffic to your official website through social media content and advertisements. Your engaging content will encourage customers to click on a link, buy your products or patronize your service, and recommend them to their contacts. Think of it as a domino effect working in your favor. You should also participate in threads, chats and other methods since these tell your audience that you’re not just a bot behind the brand but an actual person; just be sure to add value to your chats so as to build relationships instead of being too promotional.
- By generating solid leads, usually through lead ads on Facebook and Instagram. Leads can become conversions (i.e., sales) when handled properly so be sure to have a solid plan in place, too. Think of it as transforming your social marketing strategy into social selling, a critical tool in building your business beyond your initial audience.
- By establishing partnerships with social media influencers, a proven way of expanding your audience in the same or similar fields. This is effective whether you’re a beginner or an influencer in your field – the relationship is meant to be symbiotic in the sense that each party in the partnership enjoys benefits. Take note that your partnerships should be with social media influencers with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of active followers; while celebrities are good endorsers, they likely won’t get as much attention as the influencers.
The bottom line: With social media’s worldwide reach and billions of the total number of users, it’s the best platform for business growth in terms of increasing your customer base.
Creating and Distributing Content
With social media being content-centric, businesses that want to become successful have to create and distribute great content! You should be mindful of the content posted on your social media pages, too – people are smart and, thus, you can’t underestimate their ability to discern content. Your best bet is smart, engaging and well-researched content that offers value to your audience resulting in your stronger image as a thought leader.
When creating content, remember to cater to your audience depending on the social media platform. While you can also post videos and photos on Facebook, you have to ensure that these are slightly different from the content posted on Instagram and YouTube. Each social media platform has its unique quirks, if you may, due to the differences in demographics – posting generic content won’t do your brand any good.
When your content goes viral, then you may well have hit the jackpot – well, at least, while the attention’s red-hot since in social media, you can’t rest on your laurels, no thanks to the fickle attention span of Netizens. With viral content, your brand will be in the public eye more so you have the golden opportunity to expand your audience, generate leads and get more conversions.
Furthermore, social media platforms aren’t just about creating and distributing your own content – it’s a marketplace where exchanges of content also take place. You have to actively participate in such exchanges, too, because you don’t have a monopoly of knowledge and you have to share your knowledge, too.
You can tap into social media for inspiration for your content, too. You can source ideas and materials for your own content from the posts of others, but be sure not to plagiarize them unless you have asked for permission – and been granted it – to share or repost. You will not only be highlighting your ability to stay on top of things but, more importantly, you’re setting trends – and being a trendsetter is definitely better than being a trend follower.
Tip: Conduct a contest with a hashtag in getting user-generated content (UGC), an effective way of engaging your audience and increasing brand engagement. Check out National Geographic’s #wanderlust hashtag, which generated over 60,000 user-generated posts.
Getting Insights into the Market
Think of it as corporate espionage without actually hiring spies and breaking laws! After all, most businesses maintain public profiles on social media that others can follow.
You can then get peeks into what’s happening with your competitors and what others are saying about them, as well as monitoring tracking mentions that can become your window of opportunity. You will be in on new product launches, promotions and reports, which are usually preceded by marketing hype.
For example, many customers of your competitors mention their complaints about the products. You can reach out to these disgruntled customers and address their concerns, perhaps by answering their questions and offering your products. You’re gaining new customers in the process, too.
But don’t focus too much on your competitors’ goings-on because your brand is the more important thing. You can use social media in monitoring mentions and conversations about your brand as well as things relevant to it. You will find plenty of apps that monitor these conversations so you can make appropriate responses, whether it’s on Yelp or Facebook.
Keep in mind, too, that while you already have a social marketing plan in place, perhaps covering a five-year period, you have to make decisions in real-time, too. You must then maintain an active presence on social media since it’s a rich source of information necessary for making smart real-time decisions.
Social media is also an abundant source of your customers’ feelings about your brand. Remember that while conversations are good, you have to further analyze them to gauge your customers’ sentiments about your products and services.
Making Effective Advertisements
Yes, the likes of Facebook and Instagram allow for advertisements but your efforts can be for naught if your ads aren’t targeted to your audience. This is where social media demographics come in since the information can be used in tweaking the message and graphics of ads for the target audience.
Plus, social media ads are more affordable than traditional ads on television, radio, and cinemas, not to mention that these reach millions of people more. You can optimize your modest budget for this reason – low cost, wide reach if you will.
With these benefits of social media for your business, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced and enthusiastic social media manager who will take charge of related matters. If you’re an entrepreneur, you will want to focus on your key responsibilities instead of replying to social media messages and comments, creating and distributing content, and other relevant tasks. Your social media manager will take care of these tasks and, thus, contribute to your business growth.
Also, check out these 10 Tips for SMBs on How to Use Social Media For Marketing