Social Media and Business
In 2020, the pandemic increased our dependence on Social Media as people need to find alternative ways to connect and engage with people. According to statistics from sproutsocial there are now 3.6 billion social media users globally with this number likely to increase to 4.41bn by 2025.
As a consequence, whether you love it or loath it, Social Media needs to be an essential part of any businesses overall marketing strategy.
The most used Social Platforms are:
- Facebook with 2.7billion users
- Instagram with 1billion users
- LinkedIn with 722m users with 96% of B2B using it for organic content.
So why is Social Media so important and why do businesses need to ensure they are using it to their best advantage?
Social Media Platforms allow businesses to:
- Build and expand brand awareness by increasing the opportunity to be found by customers on Social Media
- Build on existing customer relationships through connections with target audiences and staying engaged with them through the content shared
- Respond quickly. Gone are the days where we have to wait for the post to arrive or for someone to call us back. We can reply at the touch of a button making our customer’s feel they matter
- Boost sales and leads by providing content that is relevant
- Evaluate competitors by monitoring their social media pages
- And for those businesses that are Ecommerce businesses – some Social Platforms such as Instagram now provide the option for instant sales straight from social media pages without the need to visit websites.
A good and well-planned social media strategy will enable businesses to not only grow, but to adapt quickly to market trends or unseen changes.
As we have seen during the recent pandemic, many traditional businesses have embraced Social Media platforms which have allowed them to pivot or change how they provide products and services to their customers. I am sure we can all think of a pub or restaurant that has been closed but have found through Social Media that they are able to connect with customers to provide takeaway and delivery services, allowing them to survive and in some cases thrive, until they are able to re-open.
When thinking about your Social Media Strategy you should consider the following;
1 – Platform
Which platform works best for both you and your customers? Focus on these and take care not to spread yourself too thin. It is better to choose 1 or 2 platforms which your customers use and provide great content, rather than trying to use all the platforms and end up doing it badly.
2 – Content
The content your business shares needs to be engaging and relevant to your audience. Remember that your content is an extension of your business, so you need to think about your brand such as colours, font, images – are these the same as those used on your website or other marketing material?
3 – Consistency
Being consistent on Social Platforms is crucial. Posting every day for one month and then not posting at all for the next 3 months is not consistent and will not keep your customers engaged. Nor will it keep your business front of mind. Research suggests content needs to have been seen approximately 8 times before any real engagement happens.
4 – Being Active
Being active on Social Media Platforms takes time, from thinking about and creating the content, to posting and sharing as well as engaging with customers. Each platform is different. Think about putting aside time to plan your Social Media, or alternatively outsource it.
Do not expect to get instant results. To be effective on Social Media you have to be prepared to play the long game. It can take between 12 – 18 months to become established.
5 – Trends
As mentioned, there are so many platforms available, and technology is changing all the time, so it is important that you keep up to date with any changes that may affect the platforms you are using so you can adapt accordingly.
These are some questions to ask yourself when putting together your social media strategy:
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are you hoping to connect with?
- Why are you sharing your content? What are you hoping to gain?
- What do you want your clients to do once they have seen your social media content?
- Which social media platforms do you customers tend to use?
- How often do you want to post?
- Is your content text only, visual images or a combination of both?
- Will you be creating everything from scratch or are you intending to repurpose existing content?
- Do you want to use free images, or will you be purchasing stock images?
- Do you want to use a scheduling tool?
- How will you evaluate the success of your social media strategy?
Organic reach on Social Media takes time and is getting harder and harder to achieve and is certainly not helped by the algorithms used by the Social Platforms, which keep changing.
For many B2B and B2C businesses, paid advertising such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads works better and may be a viable option you prefer to test rather than relying purely on organic traffic.
Paid advertising can be used to build brand awareness, increase engagement, and increase lead conversions.
If you aren’t familiar with paid advertising there are plenty of resources available online as well as agencies you can outsource to.
Social Media is ever changing and as such all businesses should regularly revisit and adapt their marketing strategies to ensure that they are working and up to date. Some businesses will find that their engagement is best on LinkedIn, whilst other businesses such as a fashion business will find that Instagram works better for them as it is more visual.
Remember, the objective of Social Media is not to constantly sell your product, but rather to build your business by brand awareness and engagement.
LinkedIn’s mission statement is to “Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful” and Facebook’s is “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. These can only be achieved if we engage and connect with our customers.
The key is that Social Media is a powerful tool for building your business and engaging with your customers. But always keep in mind the Who, What and Why questions:
- Who are you reaching out to – in other words think about who is your ideal customer?
- Why are you reaching out to them – why are you looking to engage on Social Media and why would they want to hear from you?
- What is it you are saying – what is the message you are trying to get across?
If you put every piece of content you post on Social Media through the Who/What/Why filter you’ll find you won’t go too far wrong.