Since social media took hold on the Internet, it was identified very early on as a powerful way for businesses to spread their messages, build visibility and interact with and grow their audience. What makes it ideal is that it is inexpensive, highly practical and very effective. Now, businesses use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and even more platforms to connect and engage with their audiences and to have their followers spread their messages for them, all at the click of a button. Retweeting, Facebook sharing and repinning have become tools that allow consumers to show a brand how much they appreciate them or, conversely, want things to change.
The trick to effective social media usage is the 80/20 rule; 80% engagement and 20% sales. If all a business used social media for was to talk about their services or products, people would switch off in droves. The very word ‘social’ means that these platforms are forums in which consumers can be heard by brands as well as being marketed to by them.
Here are some ways that social media can help build your business.
Social media gives businesses access to a virtually unlimited number of leads. The more a company meets their audience on their Facebook wall or Twitter stream for example, and publishes information that’s worth sharing, the larger their potential audience grows and thus, the more leads that will emerge, looking to enquire or buy.
Many companies use social media to release time-critical information to their audience. Target, for instance, posts Product Recalls on their Facebook page so that consumers know to return their purchases. Restaurants and hair salons write posts that aim to fill empty seats when they know they have low bookings for that day or the next. And social media also helps businesses to keep their consumers up to date on new product launches, changes to trading hours and company policies, upcoming events and so much more.
Help and be helped
Social media users often turn to their favourite platform for advice. People will ask their Facebook friends for recommendations on products or services and their friends will be only too happy to oblige. A simple tweet asking for a courier that can pick up and deliver a vital piece of equipment within two hours could be retweeted and reach hundreds or thousands of people. The fortunate courier company will land a new client simply because of that tweet. And you can use social media to build your business in the same way.
Business owners too find social media helpful for locating resources or receiving advice. A taxation question shared on social media could be answered within minutes, and for free, without the need to contact the accountant and be charged for the privilege.
Positioning as an authority
Being known as an expert in your field can attract new clients and invite media attention. Maintaining consistent visibility on social media and posting links to articles, news items and videos means the audience will know where to go when they’re looking for information on your industry. And they’ll turn to you as the expert.
Find new vendors, suppliers and opportunities
Your visibility on social media will mean others will follow you because they view you as their lead. This can be very valuable for you as you will find vendors and suppliers that you may not otherwise have known about, and could lead to important business opportunities that could build your business.
Learn about your customers
Interacting with your customers and potential customers on social media can help build your business because you will learn firsthand what they love, what they need and what you’re doing right and wrong. The more you pay heed to and act upon what they say, the better the opportunity for your business to grow. Using social media as a customer support platform gives consumers peace of mind that they can go direct to the source without having to wait on hold on the phone or for emails to be returned.
You can direct qualified traffic to your website simply by posting links to information pages and blog posts. This also helps with Search Engine Optimisation.
Run promotions and ads
Facebook offers a highly targeted advertising model which means you can display your ads to an audience as narrow or as wide as you like. You can also run competitions on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to attract attention and as a goodwill activity.
Social media as a tool to build your business is one that requires an investment of time and effort. However, given that the financial investment is low and the rewards have the potential to be high, it’s definitely worth taking a look to determine how you can make it work for your business.