The benefits of social media aren’t always clear, especially for business.
It’s a big decision when you decide to launch new social media channels or campaigns for clients. Social media is time-consuming and results are far from guaranteed. You’re operating in a competitive space, with thousands of other feeds, pages and businesses vying for the ever-shortening attention span of consumers. You also have to content constantly-shifting algorithms, where the rug can be taken from under your feet at any moment.
On the flip side, there are great and organic rewards on offer for businesses that get it “right”. Record traffic figures, huge engagement with current and potential customers, outstanding brand evangelism and delighted customers with excellent and publicly visible support are just some of the great benefits of social media.
In a rush? We’ve listed the eight top benefits of social media here, read on for more.
- It’s free (but time-consuming!) - you can build brand awareness
- It’s fun for your team and consumers
- It’s the future (and the present)
- You can participate in the dialogue
- Brand advocacy grows increasingly powerful
- It’s the softest conversion point you have
- You can get an SEO boost
- It will become a stable source of traffic
So, what are the benefits of social media for business?
1. It’s free
Social media can cost nothing in terms of ad spend if the business you’re representing isn’t convinced to invest budget here. While ad spend will help get you to your goals faster, copious amounts of budget are often also wasted on social media, while decision-makers might not be convinced that social provides a return on investment.
It doesn’t matter. You can drive and demonstrate success through social media organically, provided you take some intelligent tactical approaches. Make your posts the very best they can be by tailoring messages for each social media platform, use unique images and videos, do Facebook Live, invite your email leads to like your page. Use social media to develop meaningful partnerships and to support your wider outreach strategy by showing some love to key influencers and complementary businesses. Join Facebook and Linkedin groups to see what your potential page followers are talking about, create content that adds to the debate and share it in the group.
Encourage your growing community to share your content, and if you keep getting it consistently right and investing time and effort, you will start to see the benefits of social media. It might even help you create a compelling business case to decision-makers or your client to invest a little budget in social media to help boost your rate of growth further.
Few things in life are truly free, however, and so is the way with running social media for business. While you don’t need to spend on ads to drive success, there’s a big time-cost associated with running, managing and monitoring social media feeds for business. Depending on the size and nature of the business, managing social media profiles can take over 10 hours each week; 45% of marketers interviewed by Social Media Examiner said they spent more than 10 hours a week on social.
It’s no wonder the higher-ups don’t always see the benefits of social media, so it’s down to you to go out and prove it.
2. It’s fun (great for less exciting brands, who should see opportunity, rather than “how the hell am I going to make my insurance company appealing!?”)
If you don’t enjoy creating social media posts for your audience, how can they possibly enjoy consuming them? You might not be fortunate enough to be managing social media for an obviously exciting brand, but if your thought process is along the lines of “how the heck do I make my insurance company appealing on social media?”, there’s plenty of similar businesses that you can take inspiration from. Look at what your competitors are doing, and other brands in similarly “boring” verticals, then ask what you can to do make it more fun and accessible.
Use a few different free and quick tools to find great ideas for content, which you can promote through your blog, email activity and social media. Using Google’s Keyword Planner is a great way to see the actual language and search queries your potential new social media followers are using.
3. It’s both the present and the future
Social media is everywhere. Facebook recently announced they had reached 2 billion users, while Whatsapp crossed the 1 billion mark in 2016. There is quite simply no other medium that will enable you to reach this many people, including Internet search engines. Social media is also a future-proof channel for your marketing; it’s currently almost impossible to foresee a world where social media isn’t a major marketing channel.
4. You can have an impact on the dialogue
Whether your business is present on social media, people are talking about you. They’re talking about your product, customer service, website, everything. Do you want to be a part of the discussion?
Being present gives you the benefit of controlling the conversation about your brand on social media, to a degree. You should always take caution, particularly when managing social media for your clients. Create a customer service and crisis management guide (before you need it!) to make sure you and the business you’re working with are prepared for any eventuality.
Brands who are killing it on social media do so because they put their customers first, and know that their social media pages are an extension of their brand’s personality.
Connect with users on a one-to-one level, go above and beyond when interacting with them, and try to keep it light and fun.
5. Brand advocacy
Tied to the above point, but if you’re nailing your user interaction on social media consistently, something very powerful will start to happen more and more: brand advocacy. This might be your increasingly loyal social media followers engaging with your posts, sharing them onto their own feeds, or even replying to people who criticize your brand. The power of this can grow organically over time, but make sure you always go the extra mile to engage with your brand advocates. Wish them a happy birthday when the time is right, reply to their queries double-quick, and make them your top priority on social media.
6. It’s the softest conversion point you have
Most businesses marketing online are looking to get something in return, and it’s likely that you or your client are too. Whether your business is trying to drive sales, increased brand awareness, more website traffic, or all of the above, you should acknowledge that getting social media engagement and followers is most likely the softest (or easiest) conversion point you possess.
By this, we mean that asking someone to like a LinkedIn update requires a much smaller buy-in, and a far lower threshold, than getting someone to sign up for a newsletter with their email address, or, moreover, make a purchase.
Even though it is a softer conversion point, make sure you respect your users and focus on them and their needs, both individually and as a collective.
Go the extra mile to make your social followers really happy, and the other benefits you’re looking to get - traffic, leads, sales - will naturally follow.
7. SEO boost
Social media, and particularly shares, have grown to become more valuable in an SEO context over time. On page SEO signals and content that receives a high number of shares can provide websites with great rankings boosts on those pages, which could be the difference-maker if you’re in a competitive vertical.
Furthermore, receiving great engagement for your blogs and content on social media will drive more users to click and read your blog through social proofing. If your social media posts are relevant to the content, your website has a healthy technical foundation and your content is strong, your users from social will further feed your SEO by registering long sessions on your website, and visiting multiple pages.
8. It will become a stable source of traffic
Even if it doesn’t start out that way, as your social media grows and your content grows richer, more and more people will grow to trust your brand, share it and recognize it as awesome stuff. As your back catalog of content and your number of followers grows, you’ll naturally find more referral traffic coming to your website from social media. It’s a great metric to track over time, as it’ll help convince anyone who isn’t sure about the benefits of social media.