It is amazing how to this day there are still those who are blind to the power of social media, especially in business. It is evident by the way some company leaders refuse to invest better in the marketing department’s social media marketing strategies.
The truth is that social media has become a very dominant social, research and business tool for a very large percentage of the general public to the point where social media now plays a huge role in how and what people purchase. In fact, in 2014 these platforms were reported to influence 74% of consumers when it came to their purchasing patterns.
This, of course, is great news for businesses, if they know how to properly use social media and really make an impact for their business.
The reason why social media is still highly undervalued by some companies is that they regard it as just another marketing channel.
And social media can be this – targeted advertising can be highly effective depending on the audience you’d like to reach – but it is also much more than this. Realising this, though, is where many marketers still fail, which is why their companies don’t profit from the true benefits of social media.
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Social media can boost your web traffic and reach
One of the rather obvious benefits of social media is the traffic-driving effect it will have on your website if done right.
Social media is one of the most important channels for you to distribute your content through and provide information about your business, your values and your products or services. It offers opportunities for you to find people who are interested in your business and enable people to find you which otherwise might not have known you existed.
This will have an immediate impact on factors such as SEO, brand reach and brand awareness – with an ROI that is much bigger than for many other marketing channels!
Social media helps you stay up-to-date with trends
We live in an ever changing environment; take for example the case of the movie industry. 30 years ago films were stored and sold on VHS tapes before they were replaced by DVDs. But change didn’t stop there – businesses such as Blockbuster missed the trend of online streaming services and were soon disrupted by new competitors such as Netflix.
Blockbuster could have prevented this from happening had they acknowledged the new trend in time (and accepted the offer of buying Netflix before it was too late).
With the rise of social media, businesses have gained a powerful listening tool. This can help them discover new trends (although determining whether you’re facing a trend or a fad will still be a challenge).
Businesses can now influence the direction a trend is taking, observe the reaction of their customers on change and learn from their followers and industry leaders.
Social media offers the perfect platform to strategically position yourself, establish yourself as a thought leader and nourish this perception of your business through keeping the conversation going.
Social media allows you to connect with your customers and thought leaders
The great thing about social media is its potential to connect everyone – no matter where or who they are. Social media puts everyone on the same stage and allows for conversations across borders, through corporate doors, hierarchies and titles that might otherwise not have been possible. In that sense, it has a huge democratic power.
When communicating on social media, you should focus on connecting with your customers and industry leaders and not on selling. Rather than pushing out your products, social media is much more about seeking conversations with your followers and showing the human side of your organisation. Through engaging with your audience in conversations, addressing relevant discussions and being transparent about topics that matter to your company and society you can provide valuable information to your followers and equally help individuals make an impact on the way businesses act.
There are few ways better than social media to get such a wide range of feedback from customers or stakeholders, which makes it a wonderful (if sometimes highly demanding) channel for customer service management. Customers value companies highly that quickly respond to possible problems; take advantage of the immediacy of feedback you get to tackle a problem as soon as it arises. Showing accountability and a strong customer-focus will have positive benefits on your brand image.
Social media helps you to build trust for your brand
Closely related to the aspect of engaging with your audience is the benefit of social media to help you build trust for your brand.
Your interactions on social media should show the human faces behind your organisation and make your business more approachable. Social media is your opportunity to build a relationship with your audience, and hence build trust.
This can have many aspects:
For once, you’re building trust through the information you provide. In combination with content marketing, social media is a powerful tool to show your expertise and advice for topics relevant to your company.
Secondly, you’re showing responsibility through reacting to your audience’s questions, problems, feedback or challenges. Managing a company’s social media account comes with a lot of responsibility but will help your organisation to engage in public discourses and communicate your opinion on topics that matter.
And thirdly, you are entering an equal playing field through joining social media. People can openly communicate with you – which also makes you vulnerable. It’s this aspect that scares many when it comes to becoming active on social media (and to be fair, there are plenty of examples where this exact point went terribly wrong). It is a company’s confidence and competence to take that risk and become more approachable that will eventually lead to much more trust in your organisation.
How can we measure the full impact of social media?
As I was hopefully able to show, social media is much more than just another marketing channel. How do we measure its full impact on our business?
The answer is: the true value of social media is hard to put into numbers.
Take the last point of our list, for example: Although “trust” isn’t easy to measure, it still accounts for a lot. If customers trust you and feel like they have a relationship with your company, they will be more loyal to your business and can even turn into brand advocates. This will eventually lead to more sales, better customer retention rates and even employer branding benefits!
Most importantly, though, social media helps make our world a little bit more transparent, both for consumers and organisations.
Want to learn more about how to effectively use channels such as social media for your business? In our Demand Generation Report Guide you will find helpful tips on how to get the most our of your marketing activities.
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