A recent study has shown that with 2.3 bio. active users over all platforms, 31% of the world’s population are using social media, and there’s still an upwards trend with the age bracket of 50+ being the fastest growing segment in the last two years.
Yet many aren’t tapping into this vast potential, especially small business owners who are often short on time or money. That’s why I’ve collected the 9 most important benefits of social media marketing for small businesses in this week’s blog post. Have a look and decide for yourself:
The biggest effect social media marketing will have for your company is an increased brand awareness: If you enter the stage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Co. you will have an amazing potential of reaching out to thousands of potential customers. You have the opportunity to explain your brand and attract like-minded people aka the ideal audience for your business.
Make sure your profile name, company description (or bio on some channels), your cover photo and profile image reflect your company and brand. The same applies to the content you share, no matter if you share it from other sources or your own blog and website. If your business promotes a sustainable business practice make sure your message comes across in your profile set-up. If you’re a friendly family business choose your tone of voice accordingly and post lots of pics from your team at work.
When you’ve gathered your audience of ideal clients around you, you can use it to your benefit: No other marketing channel gives you a faster and more direct response from your target group. You can find out easily what works and what doesn’t, ask them questions and even use your followers for some small scale market research.
You can add or link to surveys and polls on most social media channels, you can invite your most active followers to a beta test of your newest product and get feedback from them. All the comments, discussions, messages, reviews and even the number of shares give you an invaluable insight that you can use to further optimise your products, customer service and marketing.
While you’re already listening to what your followers have to say about you and your company, take part in the conversation! People will likely talk about your business on whatever channels they’re using anyway, but with you being present there, you can respond and control what is said about you.
By monitoring comments, mentions, reviews and messages sent directly to you you can see what the word is on the streets and reply accordingly. Got a bad review? Make sure to publicly respond to it as quickly as possible and invite the disgruntled customer to continue the conversation offline or per direct message. Always be nice and understanding and offer compensation if needed. This way you can steer the complaint into shallow waters before it turns into a full blown viral campaign. Use the information you gathered to improve your products and services. Got a great one? Even better: Spread the word, share and let even more people know about your awesomeness!
4. Customer Service
That brings us directly to our next benefit. Social media is ideal for your customer service, so make sure not only your marketing team is involved in this. Never has solving problems, answering questions and increasing customer loyalty with an excellent service been easier than now. Repeat business is another benefit you get when having happy customers, even when they had a little hiccup using your product.
Make sure to be available, check for messages or questions on your social media channels regularly to enable you to respond quickly to complaints and questions. Deliver a fast, easy and direct service and the customers will eat from the palm of your hand. And quite possibly shout about your amazing customer service.
While only 20% of your content should be promotional in nature (here’s what the other 80% should be), this is what helps you to drive traffic to your website, web shop, blog or newsletter sign-up. And that in turn should give your organic search traffic a boost as well.
The possibilities are endless: Share your blog posts, link to your clients’ or customers’ testimonials, invite people to check out a landing page for your newest offers and specials. Offer your followers an exclusive peek at your newest release or the opportunity to pre-order. Invite them to events, ask them to take part in a survey on your website or in a discussion that’s evolving around your latest blog attribution. Make sure that they can explore your web presence from there by internally linking to your product pages, about page and your other social media channels.
Being able to reach out to so many people also has the benefit of giving you the opportunity to generate new leads for your business. Social media when done properly is like a virtual word-of-mouth system: People that follow and enjoy your content will share this with friends, they will like it and share with their friends et cetera. They trust their friend’s recommendation more than any advertising in the world anyway, so this is the perfect way to grow your business and reach out to larger audiences.
As mentioned above, your followers can share everything you post, so your content should be interesting and engaging according to your brand and social media strategy. Make it worth sharing and recommending! If your organic reach is not good enough you can also invest some money to boost your page or single posts to get in front of new people. And from there it is easy to convert them into leads with your promotional posts (see number 5).
Social media activities are very likely to lead to an improved search engine page ranking. And that means that even more people are finding your website, products, offers and blog on Google and Bing. Also, to find not only your website in the search results but also your social media presence gives them even more opportunities to learn more about your business.
The number of followers on your social media channels as well as the increased traffic through your promotional content improves your reputation with Google. Also, when people share your blog post or link to your latest offer that creates another boost for your page rank and the same applies to comments on your blog posts and your content going viral for example. Also, the insight into your target group that your social media followers provide helps you to improve your keywords and hence your SEO.
While it might not always be possible to see exactly which lead or new customer/client has come to you through your social media presence (although you can always just ask), you can gather a lot of information about your followers, your content’s success as well as reactions to your promotional posts. These insights can be very helpful for your future marketing planning.
Apart from checking how much of your website’s traffic came from your social media channels with the help of Google Analytics, some platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for example, have their own analytics that show you the extend of engagement from your followers and much more than that: Often you can get insights about your followers’ gender, age, location, the time they’re online and much more that helps you improve your social media efforts. If you are using a social management tool like SproutSocial or Hootsuite you’ll have access to additional stats and figures.
In comparison to conventional marketing channels, social media marketing is cheap and can save you lots of money otherwise spent on expensive print advertising or marketing material. All you have to invest to get started is your time and brainpower.
Your profiles can be set up for free and you basically only pay for additional advertising if you want to boost your page or specific posts. Of course you’ll have to provide and curate content for your posts and blog, your cover photo might need some custom-made design and sometimes you have to pay for a good management and scheduling tool. But that’s nothing in comparison to the cost of a telemarketing campaign or an advert in a nationally distributed magazine. Often there are free versions of services out there that you can use for these things and there’s nobody keeping you from writing your blog yourself.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
Social Media for Sales [Infographic]
5 Ways to Make Social Media Work for Your Small Business
How to Find Inspiration for Your Social Media Content
How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Social Media Success
What to Post on Social Media