Social media has evolved from a space for personal interaction into a vibrant marketing channel for businesses of all sizes - in fact, it's become a requisite for most business in order to compete in the modern marketplace.
However, while social has become a ubiquitous business platform, in amongst the constant updates, shifts and changes in the social space, it can be hard to know, exactly, how these services can work for you and your business.
In this post, we'll go over four major benefits of social media for business.
1. Increased Brand Awareness
The first key benefit of social media for business is the ability to generate organic brand awareness.
As is well-documented, a major component of building credibility comes from creating brand identity. While other marketing materials, such as a websites and business cards, have long been the go-to items for new businesses, social media should now also be added to the essentials roster.
Social media enables businesses to share their brand messaging across various platforms and create a consistent and unified look, feel, and voice. This consistency is the foundation for a reputable brand and business. By using the same logo, brand colors, bio descriptions, and links to your business website, you create an authentic online presence.
Serena & Lily, an online home decor retailer, does a fantastic job of leveraging brand awareness throughout their social media accounts. Although each social profile (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, respectively) looks a little different, there remains a recognizable brand identity, which helps when establishing a brand.
Keep this lesson in mind when you're creating your social media accounts.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it isn't. Within a few hours, you can claim your social media identity on the platforms where your customers are most active.
The best part is that these platforms are all free. Who doesn't love free marketing?
2. Improved customer service
In a world where customers expect white glove experiences, social media is a wonderful avenue for delivering on those demands.
Since social media is all about interaction (i.e. being 'social'), it's a natural place to surprise and delight your potential and existing customers. Social media profiles enable businesses to communicate - proactively or reactively - with their followers in real-time.
When followers comment or pose questions and a brand responds in a timely and knowledgeable way, it conveys the business's dedication to customer satisfaction and experience. This kind of engagement goes a long way in fostering loyalty and solidifying a positive impression in your followers' minds.
Don't worry, though, this doesn't mean you need to be available 24/7. People respond well to proactive communication about service hours and availability. Include these key facts in your social media bios, so it's easy to find. If you want to drive customer service off of your social feed, direct people to contact your business through a dedicated email address.
When customer service is done right, it has the potential to generate significant attention. Take a cue from JetBlue, whose Twitter account is incredibly responsive and contributes to their customers' experiences.
A notable example of social media posts going viral is the below tweet reply from JetBlue - a passenger started a conversation with the company, and it resulted in her receiving a welcome parade upon arrival. This tweet got serious coverage and boosted public opinion of JetBlue's customer service.
Image courtesy of JetBlue
Spreading positive messages is always a win for small business, and honing your customer service on social media is one tried and true way to facilitate just that.
3. Low-cost way to acquire leads
Small businesses are always looking for low-cost marketing efforts, and social media fits the bill.
As noted, social platforms are free and plenty of brands have grown exponentially through organic social media marketing.
By investing some time into understanding your target audience and tailoring your posts, aesthetic, and even platform presence, a business can quickly grow its following and create a captive audience. Take cues from your competitors, whether real or aspirational and see how they manage their accounts. You can then use this as a cue to highlight your own unique selling proposition to distinguish your brand from the competition.
Once you've honed your social media branding, your follower base will grow and be full of potential customers.
How do you know they're prospective leads? They've opted-in to follow your business; this means they're interested in what you have to offer. What better way to cultivate the right customers than through social media?
4. Increase website traffic and search ranking
Another benefit of social media for business is its direct impact on website traffic and search ranking.
On most social media profiles, businesses can list their website URLs, so a visitor needs to look no further than above the fold to find a website link.
Beyond the bio section of a social media account, your actual social media posts also afford opportunities to add more links to your business website. The most effective Twitter posts include an image, caption, and URL. The visual, relevant caption, and inserted link all serve to get a person to take a specific action (i.e. visit the website). The more URL clicks, the more website visits a business gets. It's a winning formula that applies to every other social media platform.
Interestingly, social media also affects your search ranking. By driving more traffic to your website or blog, that increased activity help search engines discern that your website is reputable and should rank for specific keywords. As we know, Google's algorithm is continually evolving to weed out spam websites and appropriately rank websites that are legitimate. By incorporating social media into your marketing strategy, you can positively influence your search ranking without being a search engine optimization guru.
For a small business, leveraging the power of social media is a good investment. There's tremendous upside that can translate to brand awareness (and sales) for businesses of all sizes. Every business can benefit from free marketing, so give social media a try today.