There was a time when social media was considered by some as child’s play. Something that “the kids” were using that businesses could never really benefit from. Over time, the skeptics were proved wrong. There are over 3 billion internet users—and over 2 billion of them have active social media accounts. Popular social platforms have become marketing giants, offering businesses valuable data about their customers and as well a free way to reach them, mostly. And now, social media for businesses is no longer optional, it is mandatory and essential!
If you’re wondering how social media can benefit your business. I have outlined key points below.
Social media generates a huge amount of data about your customers in real time. Every day there are over 500 million Tweets, 4.5 billion Likes on Facebook, and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram. Behind these staggering numbers is a wealth of information about your customers—who they are, what they like, and how they feel about your brand.
Through daily active engagement and social listening, you can gather relevant customer data and use that information to make smarter business decisions. With Hootsuite Insights, for example, you can gather information across all your social networks in real time—allowing you to gauge customer sentiment, find the conversations happening around your brand, and run real-time reports.
When you have a presence on social media, you make it easier for your customers to find and connect with you. And by connecting with your customers on social, you’re more likely to increase customer retention and brand loyalty. A study by Access Development shows that 62 percent of people who follow brands on social are more loyal to those brands.
Social ads are an inexpensive way to promote your business and distribute content as opposed to traditional print and outdoor media platforms. They also offer powerful targeting options so that you can reach the right audience. For example, if you run an ad campaign on LinkedIn, you can segment by things like location, company, job title, gender, and age—the list goes on. If you’re running a Facebook ad, you can target based on location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. You can track and measure the performance of your social ads in real time.
Social media increases sales and customer retention through regular interaction and timely customer service. In the 2015 Sales Best Practices Study from research institute MHI Global, world-class companies rated social media as the most effective way to identify key decision makers and new business opportunities. In the State of Social Selling in 2015, nearly 75 percent of companies that engaged in selling on social media reported an increase in sales in 12 months.
Even if you aren’t on social media, most of your customers expect you to be. Over 67 percent of consumers now go to social media for customer service. They expect fast response times and 24/7 support—and companies that deliver win out. A study by Aberdeen Group shows that companies engaging in social customer service see much bigger annual financial gains (7.5 percent YOY growth) vs. those without (2.9 percent).
One of the biggest benefits of social media for business is using it to increase your website traffic. Not only does social media help you direct people to your website, but the more social media shares you receive, the higher your search ranking will be. For example, if every person who follows me on Twitter Retweets this post, it’s more likely to rank higher in Google’s search engine results page for variations of “social media for business.”
With social media monitoring you can gain key information about your competitors. This kind of intel will allow you to make strategic business decisions to stay ahead of them. For example, you can create search streams in Hootsuite to monitor industry keywords and mentions of your competitors’ names and products. Based on your search results, you can improve your business to offer product enhancements, service, or content that they may be missing.
In the past, marketers faced the challenge of ensuring their content reached customers in the shortest possible time. With the help of social media, specifically when it comes to sharing content about your business or for content curation, all you need to do is share it on your brand’s social network accounts.
Geo-targeting is an effective way to send your message out to a specific audience based on their location. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have tools that allow you to communicate the right kind of content to your audience. For example, you can target Twitter messages to followers in specific countries, or send messages from Facebook and LinkedIn company pages to specific groups based on geographical and demographic parameters.
Social media isn’t about blasting your company’s sales pitch on social, it’s a two-way channel where you have the opportunity to enrich relationships with your customers. For example, social media allows tourism brands to create dialogue with travelers, therefore creating relationships with customers before, during, and after they have booked a trip with the company. This kind of social media dialogue between brands and customers is something traditional advertising cannot achieve.