The Importance of Social Media Marketing: What You Need to Know
Social media has become a major component of companies’ marketing strategies. This is true whether you are a one-person shop or you run the marketing department of a large multinational corporation.
So, why are businesses gravitating to it? Why is social media important? Why use social media to market your business? Sites like Facebook and Twitter were initially intended to be a fun way to keep up with friends and family. They have now become a virtually-unavoidable aspect of establishing an online presence for businesses of all types and sizes. Here are some reasons why social media is important to maintaining and growing your business.
|SEE ALSO: Social Media Marketing Companies|
- You can engage directly with your customers. Most businesses have social media pages for the express purpose of enticing customers, getting sales, and expanding their online presence. It is also an excellent opportunity to engage with your customers and find out what they want without doing any costly or time-consuming market research. If you simply ask a customer on Twitter what style clothing or flavor ice cream they’d love to see from you, they’re very likely to give you a direct answer. This also enables you to stand out from your competition who perhaps isn’t engaging with their users as much.
- Brilliant social media usage will give the public a positive impression of your company’s customer service. If customers are unhappy, they will often tweet at you, leave comments on Facebook and Instagram, get a thread going on Snapchat, or contact you through other platforms that your business uses. Unlike calling or emailing to resolve an issue, your exchange with the customer is out in public view. This can serve as an indirect method of marketing your business by proving that you have excellent customer service skills and you went out of your way to address a complaint. It’s also easy enough to inject your branding and company culture into the way you publicly handle customer service through social media.
- If you are looking to gain access to influencers who can help grow your brand, social media activity can be the way to do that. Influencer marketing has risen in prominence in recent years, where you capitalize on a luminary or thought leader in a certain industry to help spread the word about your business. Many people are trying to get an influencer’s attention and ask them to do something for them. By organically getting influencers’ attention through social media and engaging with them, this can open up many opportunities for influencer marketing without the ignored emails they received under the pretense of you asking them for a favor. Additionally, following influencers’ channels also enables you to start getting more of that influencer’s followers which is precisely what you want.
Growing Your Following and Online Presence
- Social media isn’t just Twitter and Facebook, presenting many opportunities to get exposure for free or at low costs. 91% of retail brands use at least two different social media channels, with apparel brands using at least five. Businesses that rely heavily on visual elements like apparel, food, and design are more likely to use more than two platforms. What sets social media apart from other marketing methods is that the total effectiveness is measured by how often your posts are seen and shared, and how large your following is. By setting up multiple social media channels, it allows you to cast a wider net when it comes to getting more customers who feel compelled to click on and share your posts. There are at least 200 different social media channels out there in addition to the more commonly-used platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. It may take some experimentation to figure out the right platforms that are the most effective, but having at least 2-5 different social channels is the way to go.
- Having enough social media pages makes it easier for people to find you, and prove your credibility. Having a website is a necessity for people to find your business online, but a website by itself is no longer enough. By establishing a social media presence, it not only provides another means for people to find you online but also proves that you are reputable. While some established small businesses that were opened prior to the digital age may get a pass, a newer business is going to flounder without having enough means for people to find out it. Your social media pages will appear in search results and also show potential customers that there are other means to contact you aside from the ways you have listed on your website.
- Social media is a powerful indicator of your brand voice, and people will judge it. Customers as well as other decision-makers like potential business partners and investors may get their first impression of your business through social media. What kind of brand voice are you putting forward? Is it consistent across your social media feeds and channels? How about the content of your posts, and the type of content that you are sharing? A humourous Twitter feed rife with current pop culture references may indicate an apt brand voice for a youthful apparel brand, but isn’t likely to get you a good impression from a potential strategy partner if your chief output is management consulting. The impression that your feeds leave on the people who find it demonstrates the importance of social media, and why it shouldn’t be sidestepped.
A Cost-Effective Way to Grow Your Following
- Social media creates an ecosystem that can strongly boost your traffic. Your followers, the accounts you follow, and the accounts you engage with all form a strong ecosystem. You want to see who has the most followers in your niche, and start following them so those people will start following you. While email marketing and pay-per-click ads (PPC) have their place in your overall marketing strategy, social media marketing specifically addresses two aspects where your website by itself may be faltering: targeting and traffic. People simply may not be coming to your site for whatever reason, but then that changes once you amp up your following on social media. By targeting the kind of users who talk about what you’re selling, it eliminates a lot of the costly guesswork that goes into PPC campaigns and also lets you engage with them directly instead of hoping they just click on the ad.
- Growing your following through social media channels organically and through paid methods can be highly effective. Because social media relies so heavily on the “ecosystem” aspect, it presents an incredibly efficient and cost-effective method of organically growing your following. Organic growth can take an incredibly long time, so there are also methods to speed this up like promoted tweets and other paid social media positioning. This is not the same as buying followers which is a bad idea that will not generate any revenue. Rather, paid social media is buying traffic that is heavily targeted to certain keywords, demographics, and other criteria you set that so you can be sure you’re getting the kind of followers most likely to engage with your brand.
- Social media makes sharing simple. If you have an infographic, e-book, or other piece of content that you really want to get seen and shared, social media is the most efficient way to do so. It takes a few seconds to tweet it to thousands of people, opposed to emailing people one by one (or in the case of email marketing, that only about 20% of your subscribers opened the message.)
In summary, social media is not just a way to get new customers and engage with existing ones but also a way to exemplify to the public how you interact with them. A major attraction of your brand should be excellent customer service and showing the world that you can handle difficult situations easily, or even with humor. You can also form relationships on social media, both with influencers as well as customers and potential partners. These relationships will help build your business and you may not have had the opportunity to pursue through other means. Social media can be crucial to growing a dedicated following this way and using it to engage, not just show the products and services for sale.
Social media also allows for more fine-tuned targeting of users so that you can be sure you’re getting quality followers who are interested in what you have to offer. When they see your posts, you want them to share them so that you continually get more exposure. This is especially true if your followers have the exact types of users you are hoping will follow you and eventually become paying customers.
The importance of social media shouldn’t be underestimated in the incredibly open and interconnected world that we live in today. Your social media strategy is ultimately what’s going to determine whether your business is making tractable growth, or will keep having difficulty getting both customers and traffic.