In 2017, it was determined that roughly 2.48 billion people across the globe were using social media platforms, and it was estimated that by 2021 this number will increase 3.09 billion. With so many people active on social media, it seems obvious that a business looking to expand its audience should be using these platforms as well. However, many smaller businesses are hesitant to use social media or only use it sparingly, instead focusing on more traditional marketing methods. Though some businesses (and business owners) are better suited to social media than others, the many benefits that come with having an active social media presence means that most businesses simply cannot afford to not be active on social media. With that in mind, consider these ten ways that using social media can help your business grow!
Increase Brand Awareness
With so many people using social media, it is an obvious tool for expanding awareness of your brand. Most social media platforms provide that allow for hyper-targeted marketing campaigns, meaning that it is comparatively easy to reach a specific target audience that you are looking to connect with.
Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader
No matter what industry you are in, one of your central goals should be establishing your business as a thought leader and a go-to source for information in your field. Even if you are a small business, you should aim to prove that your knowledge and thoughtful, demonstrating to your audience that you are a subject matter expert. Whether through making original content or sharing relevant news, social media is an excellent space for that.
There are many different ways to create leads and connect with customers, but social media is an easy and low-commitment method that you cannot afford to not utilize. Most social media platforms even have tools specifically designed to collect and follow up on leads, making connecting with customers who have expressed an interest in your business that much easier.
Connect With Partners & Influencers
Social media is, as the name implies, a SOCIAL experience, which makes it a good way to communicate with people. This not only includes potential customers, but other professionals in your industry as well, which opens up possibilities for collaboration. Additionally, you can connect with online influencers, who can promote your business in a more organic way. With word of mouth deciding anywhere between 20-50% of purchase decisions, connecting with online influencers is a great way to generate interest.
Learn More About Your Customers
Back in 2006, Clive Humby proclaimed that “data is the new oil,” and while some have disputed this idea, the core concept behind it rings true: businesses find tremendous value in customer data. This is a big part of why social media is so important for companies: your customers generate so much data through social media channels, and by leveraging the analytics they offer, it is possible to make smarter business decisions based on your actual online audience.
Things move fast in our always-online world, and you cannot afford to be out of the loop. By utilizing social listening, you can track and analyze conversations around your brand and industry. Obviously you should avoid spending too much time browsing social media: research can quickly devolve into procrastination. But staying aware of what’s going on in your industry is important, and social media can be a valuable tool to do that.
Engage With Customers
Unlike more traditional marketing methods, social networks allow you the opportunity to interact directly with customers, potential customers, and fans. This also means that they can interact directly with your brand as well, creating a two-way experience rather than the one-sided communications of other forms of marketing. People like having the social connection that comes with talking to an actual person, so this allows for stronger customer engagement on the whole.
Provide Quick Customer Service
Good customer service should be common sense, but many businesses fall short of providing customers the guidance and support they are looking for, and they often lose customers because of it. Research has shown that a single poor customer service situation can be enough to lose a customer, while a positive one can renew a customer’s faith in a company. The Harvard Business Review has even determined that customers who receive a response to a Tweet would be willing to spend more money with a brand on a later purchase, even if the initial Tweet was a complaint. That’s the power of the speed and engagement power that comes with social media!
Humanize Your Brand
Customer loyalty and trust are two of the most important things a brand can build, and also two of the most difficult. Customers are far more hesitant to trust businesses, often seeing them as cold and only interested in making a profit. One of the greatest benefits of social media is that it allows you to connect with customers in a way that feels more meaningful and authentic, serving a greater tool for building customer loyalty and trust than other marketing methods.
Evening The Playing Field
While social media is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes, it is especially important for smaller companies. Marketing used to favor bigger companies, but now even a smaller business can potentially go viral and reach a massive audience, and the tools to do it are relatively cheap. In some regards, small businesses are even better at social media marketing than larger ones, as they tend to be more community and individual-focused.
Social media marketing can seem overwhelming at times, especially if you are relatively inexperienced with how different social media platforms work. Thankfully, it often isn’t necessary to be on every social media platform, or at the very least it isn’t necessary to have the same level of activity and engagement across every social media platform. Unless you are a big company, you are probably safe to just find a few social media platforms that are particularly well suited to your business and are popular with your target audience. But regardless of which platforms you use, the important thing is to be active and willing to engage with your customers.