Social media has completely changed the way we live our lives. Oberlo says that as of 2019, there are 3.2 billion social media users worldwide. That’s a lot of potential customers! Social media is the most direct form of business to consumer communication, and with so many users online, why not take advantage of these free platforms?
Sherpa Marketing found that more people follow and engage with brands over celebrities. On Instagram alone, 80 percent of people follow at least one business. If you’re not taking advantage of social media, you’re missing out on a fast, inexpensive way to reach almost half of the world’s population.
So, how does social media actually benefit your company? Is it worth your time? How can you ensure a hearty return on investment (ROI)? Here are eight reasons why it’s imperative for businesses to be on social media, and how it can help ensure your brand’s success.
Social networks give you the opportunity to interact directly with customers and fans, and likewise give them the chance to interact directly with your brand. Unlike traditional print or broadcast media, which offers only one-way communication, social media is a two-way street.
Consumers can now easily reach out to a customer service representative thanks to social media. Businesses can also receive, review and respond to customers’ grievances faster and more easily than ever before. Often times consumers don’t even have to pick up the phone to discuss a dispute with a company. Social media allows them to communicate on their own time, when it is appropriate for both parties. No more having to sit on hold and listen to that awful “elevator” music.
Customers can immediately write a review or make a post about a product or service in real time, too. Social media is greatly impacting the way that business owners value their customers and it’s all for the better.
In addition to the simplified lines of communication, there’s the aspect of general availability. Building quality relationships becomes a lot easier with the streamlined communication we get from social media, and building relationships with key influencers earns a lot of value for your brand.
Social media has made those who are usually hard to reach much more accessible. Think of Hollywood, elite sports players or even politicians. Before the rise of social media, would we have ever gotten a message directly to them without going through a publicist or manager? Celebrities can now view and respond easily to their fans on Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and even Facebook.
Sam Hollingsworth at Search Engine Journal shares examples of the added value these connections generate:
Instagram and Facebook also have a tool that allows you to “go Live.” Going Live is the ultimate way to connect directly with your audience; it allows anyone who follows you to watch in real-time and comment to ask questions or leave thoughts. The question pops up to the recorder, and they can answer it for all of their viewers to hear. As an added bonus, any of your followers using the application at that moment receive a notification of the Live video, encouraging them to watch.
Two ladies looking at social media
Social media allows your brand to reach new audiences and attract new potential customers. With a strong call to action stated throughout your social media updates, you can direct your viewers to go just about anywhere – including your website and/or brick and mortar store (if applicable).
Christina Newberry at Hootsuite says that sharing quality content from your blog or website to your social channels is a great way to increase your readers as soon as you publish a new post. Offer them value in the chat, rather than being too promotional. At Three Girls Media we call this the 80/20 rule. The idea is that 20 percent of what you post is directly promotional and the remaining 80 percent provides non-promotional content of value, giving followers continued incentive to follow your brand.
Make sure your website address is included in all of your social media profiles so that users who want to learn more about you can do so with one easy click. Even better, use a pinned post to highlight a landing page on your website that’s relevant to the page.
In the world of business, sales and profits, regardless of what your industry is and who you are marketing and selling to, the focus needs to remain on the customer. Traditional or digital success comes from understanding and delivering the best quality customer service possible, and doing everything in your power to ensure your customers have the best possible experience with your company.
No matter your product or service (although it should be good), there will always be unhappy customers. How you respond to the customer is imperative to your business’ online success and long standing reputation. So the next time you go to respond to a customer on the company’s behalf, we ask that you remember the golden rule; treat others how you want to be treated.
A UK study from Trinity Mirror Solutions found that more than half of adults do not trust a brand until they see “real-world proof” that the brand is keeping its promises. To connect with customers—and potential customers—you’ve got to show the human side of your brand. How are you embracing your brand values? How are you looking out for the best interests of your customers and employees? Does your product really work? What are you doing in regards to community involvement? Does your company give back?
You can answer these questions for your audience by posting photos, testimonials and quotes to your social media pages. Share testimonials from happy customers! Let them see how you’re giving back to your community by supporting other local organizations. The ways you can humanize your brand via social media are endless.
Our competitors are aiming to do the same thing as we are: deliver a product or service to a specific niche market. It’s helpful to monitor what they’re doing as a way to be inspired to do a better job of connecting with, educating and entertaining users.
It’s also useful to keep an eye on your competition so you can clearly differentiate yourself. What makes you different from them? Why should a potential customer choose to work with you instead? By knowing more about them, you can notice ways you serve consumers differently and point it out to them.
Kristen Baker at Hubspot defines a business crisis as, “An event that has the potential to threaten the success and health of a company by tarnishing its reputation, damaging its business operations, negatively impacting its finances or harming its employees. A business crisis can be caused by something internally or externally. Due to the severity of a business crisis, it’s important to be prepared to manage one of these events with a plan you (and your team) create prior to one actually occurring.”
Now you may be asking yourself, what exactly is a crisis management plan? “A crisis management plan is a process, or series of steps, a business follows to deal with an unexpected, emergency situation, or crisis. It should be completed prior to a crisis happening so the business is prepared to use it to combat and rectify the events that have unfolded.”
Social media can be used as a quick and efficient way to apologize or clear the air with your customers regarding a recent crisis. Use your platforms to write a sincere note to your followers, letting them know the course of action your company plans to take. Silence is not an option when it comes to responding to crises on social media. Maintaining well-run and managed social accounts and having a plan in place can help make sure you’re present and ready to engage if the worst occurs.
User-generated content is a free yet outstanding way to engage with your audience while strengthening your branded content. When a consumer loves and believes in the product their using, oftentimes they want to tell all of their friends and share their findings with the world. From a business perspective, this is free branding! Now your product is reaching an entirely new audience all thanks to one simple social media post. Plus this branded content carriers more weight because it’s a personal recommendation from someone the user knows, verses a company they know is trying to sell them something.
How can you encourage user-generated content? Get your followers engaged and implement a competition! Create a game like “fan pick Friday” and collect weekly submissions of customers using and celebrating your product or service, choose your favorite and post it to the company page. Recognition is an easy way to encourage involvement. Shout your customers out and let them know how important they are to the success of your business!