When I first became interested in social media as a potential business tool, I was advised by some that it was just a fad and that I shouldn’t waste my time with it.
Over a decade later, social media has not gone away!
In fact, according to Pew Research Centre, social media usage by American adults has increased from 7% to 65% within the last ten years.
Social media has become so enmeshed in our everyday lives that many people could not imagine life without being able to post selfies to their Facebook page.
On the business front, there are plenty of examples of companies that can attribute their success to social media.
So if you are still not sure about what social media can do for your business, or maybe you need to convince someone else within your organisation of its importance, here are 7 reasons why you should invest your time and money.
1. Your Customers are There
A long time ago when I was a newbie marketer working for VisitScotland, a colleague gave me a piece of advice to “Fish where the Fish are”, which has stuck with me ever since.
That was the first time I had heard that expression, but it made perfect sense to me. If you want more business you need to find out where your ideal customers are hanging out and communicate with them there. These days, that place is more often than not on social media.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, social media has overtaken entertainment as the UK’s favourite activity online. Social media sites such as Facebook account for almost 17% of the time that we spend online. If you want to get in front of your customers you need to be where they are hanging out.
Whether you are a new business or an established one, it is vital that potential customers are aware of what you do and how your solution can help them. Remember the ‘Know’, ‘Like and ‘Trust’ factors that I keep mentioning? Well, awareness relates to the first one of these factors, and social media happens to be a great way to get the word out about your business.
In Social Media Examiner’s 2016 report, it was revealed that 89% of marketers reported an increase in exposure for their business, through using social media. In fact ‘awareness’ is often cited as being one of the main benefits of using social media.
“But awareness is not sales”, I hear you say!
That’s true, but nobody can buy from you if they don’t know you are there in the first place, and with regular updates you have an opportunity to stay top-of-mind with potential customers.
3. Increased Web Traffic & SEO
An often overlooked benefit of social media is it’s ability to drive traffic back to your website. In fact in the same Social Media Examiner report mentioned above, 75% of marketers reported increased web traffic as a result of their social media activities.
This is usually achieved in a couple of ways. Firstly, with all the major social media accounts, it is possible to add hyperlinks to your profiles and secondly, through the content that you regularly share through your social channels.
Why is this good? Not only can this increased exposure to your website result in additional sales and an enhanced reputation (in the case of linking to your blog content) from social visitors, it can also mean that your website may appear higher in search engine rankings as a result, which will attract additional visits to your site.
Don’t forget that your social media profiles also rank in search results, so it is entirely possible depending on the competitiveness of your industry, that if you are using the right keywords in your social media profiles, they could appear as the top search result.
At Chat Marketing, social media is the single biggest traffic source for our website.
Social – 35.9%
Organic search – 29.8%
Direct – 22.2%
Referral – 11.9%
If you want some tips on how to optimise your SEO results using social media, check out “5 Unusual Tips to Improve Your SEO with Social Media“.
4. Email Subscribers
Are you building an email list yet? The internet is riddled with stories from entrepreneurs from all walks of life, about just how important list-building is and how they wished they had started building theirs earlier.
Joe Pulizzi of The Content Marketing Institute said “If I have one regret, it’s not focusing on building our email list earlier in the process”. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers said “If you are not building an email list you are an idiot”. Whist I would not put it quite that bluntly, it is impossible to underestimate the importance of having an email list.
Although focusing exclusively on the number of people on your list as a measure of success, is the wrong thing to do (hint: list relationship is more important than list size), it goes without saying that the more people in your community the better. Fortunately social media is a really good place to attract a targeted and relevant audience to become email subscribers.
Here are some of the ways you can use social media to grow your list:
- Create a Facebook app with an opt-in for your free give-away
- Share a link to your free give-away through regular organic posts
- Run a Facebook contest that requires an email opt-in to enter
- Add the ‘Sign Up’ Call-to-Action button to your Facebook Cover Image
- Add links to your free give-away to all of your social profiles
- Add a call to action annotation and link to your YouTube videos
- Promote your opt-in using paid social media ads
If you want more tips for growing your email list, check out 5 Ninja Hacks to Get Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers and 25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List, from the guys over at HubSpot.
5. Market Intelligence and Insight
Whenever I was teaching marketing basics at college, I would tell my students that marketing was all about finding out what your customers want and giving it to them in a way that is profitable for you. Now there is obviously more to it than that, but in its simplest form it is about satisfying customer needs and wants.
Social media is a great place to quickly find out what your customers want and usually at no cost. I think this is a huge benefit that is often overlooked by businesses. I’ve asked Facebook fans what workshops they would like me to offer, what headlines they prefer and what’s the most important factor to consider when purchasing an online course.
You can test most aspects of your marketing in advance, meaning that you are more likely to be successful. Facebook Groups are also a great place to ask questions and learn from your community.
You can also use social media to learn about what’s working and get ideas from other people in your industry. Groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook are fantastic sources of knowledge that you can tap into, that you might not have had access to otherwise.
6. Audience Engagement
Most traditional marketing is one-directional, meaning it is a communication from the business to it’s intended audience; however there is usually no feedback from the audience other than whether or not the objective of the marketing has been met.
For example if you create a promotional flyer that you mail to a list of prospects that you think might be interested in your product or service. If the marketing has done it’s job the phone rings or you get an email notification alerting you to a sale, or however the cash register usually rings for you.
With social media however, your prospects can respond to you asking further questions about whatever it is you are trying to sell. There is also an element of social proof with social media, when other people like or comment on a post, this may influence others to take action.
When the objective of the communication is not to get a sale, but to help establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry, audience engagement gives you the opportunity to further show-case your knowledge by responding to any questions or comments your audience may have in relation to the content you shared.
Engagement also helps to build a relationship with your community, which is much harder to achieve through one-directional marketing. Relationships are an essential part of the ‘Like’ and ‘Trust’ factors mentioned above. It gives your audience a way to get to know you better.
And finally, engagement is what makes your message spread further on social media. When fans comment on your Facebook posts etc, these comments can become visible to their friends too, exposing your business to others who may not have discovered it otherwise.
7. Leads and Sales
Whilst selling on social media platforms is not necessarily the best use of the tool, it is definitely possible. My advice here would very much depend on the type of business you have, but to give you a few idea’s here’s a few techniques that work.
Give away a limited number of something to people chosen at random from everyone who leaves a comment. You can then follow up with a discounted offer to those who were not the lucky winners.
Ask people what they would like to see you sell/stock/offer. When people make suggestions that can give you leads. I did this successfully when I was planning my next workshop. I asked people what workshop topics they thought I should cover over the coming months, and from the responses I got I was able to create a workshop with a ready audience, before I had even started to promote the event to others.
Offer a free strategy session or similar! This gives you the chance to get in front of your ideal audience, where you can further show-case your knowledge and experience. This not only enhances your trust and credibility and helps to build a relationship with that person, but it also gives you the chance to introduce your products or services, if that would be a good fit for the person you are speaking to.
Run a competition on your social channels! This is similar to the first tactic, where you give away a prize, but then you generate leads and awareness at the same time. Apps like EasyPromos (Affiliate link) can be used to run some fairly sophisticated promotions on Facebook, where you can gather email addresses as a condition of entry.
Run social media ads! You can now run social media ads on all the major platforms. New ones include Instagram and Pinterest. At Chat Marketing we run ad campaigns on behalf of our clients, so we know what works and what doesn’t.
Again, it is difficult to be specific here without knowing your business, but you need to consider what it is you are selling. If you sell a lot of low-ticket price products, then social media ads can be a really affordable way to generate additional sales.Try offering an exclusive discount offer when people quote a code that they get from the ad!
If you are selling more high-ticket items or services, you are better to use your ads to get people into your email list, or offer something free (see above) to get leads, which you can then nurture elsewhere!
Affiliate marketing – you can use social media to tell people about other opportunities or products that you think can help them. Whilst not selling your own products, you still generate revenue from any sales made by way of an affiliate commission. I personally believe every business could benefit from joining the Amazon affiliate programme. After all, they sell everything don’t they?
One of the mistakes I often see with businesses that are not getting the success that they expected from social media, is that they are using the wrong tools for the wrong job. It is possible to generate sales from social media, but that is not it’s prime purpose so to focus on immediate pounds and pence from social media, is only seeing part of the picture.
Many of the benefits, as highlighted above are qualitative in nature rather than quantitive, so can’t be easily measured on a spreadsheet. Which does not mean that the benefits are not there, just that you need to look at things differently.
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