In an increasingly internet-savvy world, social media has become one of the top ways people all over the globe stay connected with friends, family and colleagues. For businesses, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube offer the opportunity to build and maintain strong connections with consumers, too.
But according to a 2019 survey, nearly 40% of small businesses do not take advantage of the opportunity and have no social media presence at all. For business owners who fall into this group, it is never too late to start leveraging the business-boosting benefits of social media. And considering these five benefits businesses can harness by employing social media could help inspire the strategic, exposure-building move:
- Social media enables faster and easier communication with customers: Businesses often have announcements to share, special offers to publicize, new products or services to hype up, or events to promote. And having an established social media account (or even better, multiple established accounts) can provide a built-in audience of interested consumers for all these communications. In addition, the business sharing the update can do so quickly and easily, all without having to incur any costs getting the word out.
Further, social media can offer another avenue for customers to have questions answered or otherwise receive customer service, again quickly and easily. Note: This also introduces a responsibility for businesses to actively monitor their social media accounts for consumers’ questions and comments as users have grown to expect quick replies from brands they communicate with via social media.
- Social media helps businesses build (often free) brand awareness: Because a significant portion of today’s consumers are on social media, the platforms offer businesses a great way to expose their offerings to new audiences and to potential new customers. And according to research, 90% of consumers report buying from brands they follow on social media while 48% of consumers have purchased products or services they discovered on social media.
In addition, because followers’ friends (and even friends of friends) can often see a business’s posts when they are shared or commented on, the added exposure a business can gain has the chance to grow exponentially. And, of course, when the posts are organic (as opposed to boosted for a cost), the increased exposure they can deliver comes free of charge.
- Social media can increase a business’s website traffic: Social media posts and advertising offer businesses a highly effective way to drive more traffic to their websites, where interested consumers can often be moved a step closer to becoming paying customers. And for businesses that already have blogs on their websites, sharing snippets of newly posted blog articles via their social media platforms can draw customers to the website to read the new articles, as well as spark their interest in other content in the business’s blog or on its website. Also, for businesses with social media accounts, participating in social media conversations using the business account marks another way to boost brand visibility and attract website views in addition to showcasing the business’s expertise.
- Social media can help businesses better know their customers: By paying close attention to what their followers like, share and post, businesses can gain a better understanding of what their best customers are interested in. Further, businesses can use this data to make more informed decisions when targeting new consumer audiences, perhaps even by targeting prospects that look like and share interests with their best customers. And when businesses are seeking consumer feedback regarding their products and services, polling their social media audiences can offer near-instant responses and valuable insights.
- Social media can help businesses gauge consumer sentiment: By employing social listening tactics, businesses can keep their fingers on the pulse of important consumer sentiments in real time. This involves monitoring social media platforms for mentions of (for example) their brand and product names, competitors’ names, and industry-specific keywords. The tactic can help businesses gain valuable insights related to what consumers are thinking about their products and services. And social media-savvy brands can even use the tactic to engage with customers, manage crises, track the competition, and discover sales leads. Businesses can even employ social listening tools like Hootsuite Insights to make the process easier.
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