By now we all understand just how far-reaching, and powerful, social media can be for businesses of all sizes and descriptions. At least, we should. The social media revolution is a distant memory, and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are now firmly entrenched in the public's consciousness.
Social media has become an integral part of our daily routine, with 74% of adults using social media 2014.
That being said, many small business owners still don't give their social media presence the attention it deserves. Sure, we set up Facebook profiles and Twitter pages, but are we really using them to their full potential?
Social media can be a powerful tool for establishing brand recognition, interacting with customers, and ultimately driving traffic and generating leads and conversions. But, only if it is an integral part of your overall digital marketing strategy.
If you're still not using social media to build your business, it's time to consider just what you're missing.
1 - Improved Brand Awareness
In a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult for small businesses to establish identity. Social media makes it easy to expand your social media brand and differentiate it from your competitors. The direct nature of social media makes it possible for you to directly connect with your customer base, developing a personality that defines your brand and drives your business.
2 - Better Customer Service
The digital age has brought some serious changes to the business world, but one thing that hasn't changed is the need for good customer service. Whether online or in the real world, good customer service translates to increased sales and market longevity.
Social media makes it easier for businesses to stay connected with their customers, providing better service before, during, and after a sale. The value of that connection can not be overstated.
Being ready and able to answer frequently asked questions on social media platforms proves to potential customers that you are interested and engaged and that they are more to you than a number in a ledger. That kind of customer service can turn a simple patron into a cheerleader for you and your company.
What does this mean exactly? Monitor your social profiles!
Use services like IFTTT to set up "recipes" to automate the listening process. Be ready to respond instantly to your customers and this small action will set your business above your competition. Believe it or not, most companies don't have a handle on social media customer service and fast response.
3 - Better Insights Into Your Industry
The back and forth of a good social media presence gives you the opportunity to connect directly with your customer base and industry, gaining a better insight into what they want from your products and services. This is essential to developing new product lines and marketing strategies.
The ongoing contact with your industry also allows you to address major concerns and complaints so you can protect your business' valuable reputation. Simply responding to a complaint on Twitter, honestly and with goodwill, can do a lot to protect your brand's reputation and retain valued customers.
4 - Building Trust and Authority
E-commerce has given customers a greater range of choices than ever before, and they are looking for businesses that they can trust and depend upon. When your business has a steady, and attentive, social media presence it demonstrates the trust factor that people are looking for in a company. It proves that you are interested in your customers and that you value their business.
Your social media outlets are also a perfect venue to establish your authority and reputation in your given market. Properly utilized, your social media profiles can help you build customer confidence in you and your brand.
Not to mention, the social signals that you're creating increase your SEO value and round out your backlink profile. Google loves this activity and will reward your site with increased authority in your industry.
5 - Promoting Content and Driving Traffic
Finally, social media plays a vital role in promoting your website and content. One of the pillars of good SEO and digital marketing is providing the public with valuable content that they will find useful and engaging, and that will inspire them to revisit your website and convert into paying customers.
But, high-quality content can only succeed if it is seen by as many people as possible. You must take this step even further. It's critical that you build social media campaigns against your best content and auto-schedule tweets, or posts on other platforms.
How do you build social media campaigns? First, there are many social media tools to help you manage this process. The next steps will get you going in the right direction for Twitter.
- Go to Google Analytics and see which content is performing the best under Acquisition -> SEO -> Landing Pages. This assumes you've properly tied your analytics to your Google Webmaster Tools account.
- Consider using a URL shortening service such as Bitly. Not only will this make your URLs much shorter (allowing for longer copy), but it will also give you click tracking on your highest-performing campaigns. Enter your URL and it will provide the shortened version.
- Choose 5-8 pieces of content, and now it's time to get crafty. Write about 20 different variations (adding relevant hashtags) for each piece of content.
- Next, it's time to use a scheduling tool. I like Hootsuite the best. Stagger out your content over the next 8 months or so and watch the traffic build!
Social media allows you to easily and effectively promote any fresh content on your website, ultimately driving the traffic your need to generate new business.
Social media, when properly executed, can be the tip of a very successful sales funnel.
Whether your business is large or small, social media should be playing a major role in your SEO and digital marketing strategies.
For this post, we've only discussed some basic strategies for building an organic strategy on Twitter. Social media will explode your traffic exponentially if you incorporate paid methods, such as using Facebook.
The benefits are substantial, and better still, the financial investment is well within reach of any business owner. But, the success of any social media marketing depends on patience, perseverance, and attention to detail.
The return on your investment can be great, but it will take time and regular engagement with your online followers. That being said, considering the ease and affordability of using social media to promote your business, it's time very well spent.