If you’re not taking full advantage of social media channels to build your business, it’s definitely time to start. Social media channels from Facebook, to Instagram, to the many in between, are incredibly important tools for every business regardless of size, industry, or profit margin.
While some social media channels (sometimes called “platforms”) work best for certain industries and to accomplish specific goals, all platforms share the key benefits, which we’ve broken down below. We’ll also discuss popular channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and review sites like Google Business and share some best social media practices.
Seven Benefits of Using Social Media for Your Business
Increased credibility and visibility. More customers are finding businesses online through sites like Facebook now more than ever. Most clients and customers are looking for businesses with a robust social media presence, and are likely to view these businesses as more established and trustworthy.
In addition, social media can help search engine optimization (SEO), because the more people who engage with posts that link to original content on your website – like blog articles – the more Google sees this as positive, and this can influence how your website ranks on the search engine.
Note: Google doesn’t factor social media directly in its algorithm when ranking websites, but it certainly helps bring visibility – and credibility – to your site and brand.
More website traffic. Think about your website as a hub with social media being a direct link to that hub. The more content you share on your social media pages from your website, the more visits your site is likely to get. Eventually, customers and clients may visit your site directly rather than accessing it through social media.
Customer reviews. Today, most consumers read 10 online reviews before making a purchase. Facebook, as well as online review websites like Yelp and Google Business, are extremely popular and are essential for businesses to take advantage of.
Better branding. How you position your business on social media can influence how people perceive your brand, and can help tremendously when it comes to building awareness. By being strategic in how you use messaging through all your social media channels, you can greatly influence your customers and attract new ones.
To do this, it’s important to know your audience and choose messaging that they can relate to. If you own a retail store that caters to millennials, for example, your messaging would likely be (or at least should be) different than, say, that of a corporate law firm.
Easy and fast communication. With social media, you have the ability to interact with people quickly. You can answer questions, suggest a product or service, and share important news like updated hours or the details of sales and specials fast.
Some businesses shy away from social media because they’re afraid people may leave negative comments on their page, or have to deal with an unhappy client or customer. While this sometimes happens, it usually doesn’t impact the success of a business as much as you might think. In fact, it can be an opportunity to show people how much you care about delivering a great product or service.
More user generated content. When Burger King started serving Impossible Whoopers, Impossible Burger and Burger King both got a huge boost in marketing (and brand recognition) every time someone took a photo of their first vegan burger and shared it on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter along with hashtags. That’s user generated content, and whether it’s a photo of a burger or a photo of a new home that gets tagged to a realtor, it’s very valuable.
Networking. Social media is truly the great connector. Not only is it a great way to find customers, but it’s also an ideal way to connect with other organizations and professional associations. It’s also helpful when looking for new employees, and for getting content on your website shared and seen by more people.
Which platforms are best for my business?
Many social media channels serve different purposes and will benefit some businesses more than others, however, two – Facebook and Google Business – are essential for all companies, no matter how large or small they are.
With 1.9 billion users, Facebook is still leading the way as the most comprehensive social media site for businesses. Not only are Facebook business pages easy to set up and use, but Facebook offers analytics to track visitor engagement.
Another huge benefit to using Facebook is the ability to target ads to a specific demographic. In fact, you can get extremely specific in your ad targeting – far more than you can using Google Ads. And Facebook ads tend to be less expensive than Google Ads as well – a $10 “boosted” post on Facebook can reach about 500-800 people in your target area. That’s a lot of eyes.
Google Business isn’t as multifaceted as Facebook, but it’s paramount for generating customer reviews that in turn, create credibility in the eyes of Google The better your website’s Google Business page is, the better you website will rank on the search engine. If you aren’t already, encourage your customers to leave positive reviews for your products or services on Google (Yelp is a close second for helping SEO).
Why online reviews are more important than ever
Instagram currently has about 800 users but conservative estimates are that the mobile social media platform will reach one billon in the near future and could possibly surpass Facebook (don’t worry about Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012). Instagram offers users the ability to generate content via stories and images. You can also buy products directly from Instagram, making it a great platform for retailers. Since it’s a mobile app, and as more people search and buy from their phones than their laptop, it’s no wonder it’s growing by leaps and bounds (and clicks).
Other important social media channels to consider are Yelp for reviews, and LinkedIn, which is great for sharing website content, connecting with businesses and organizations, establishing your company as a leader in your field, and finding new employees.
Twitter is a social media platform to consider for sharing website content and establishing your business as an expert – or authority – in your field. If you’re a health professional, you could “tweet” comments and share health-related news, for example. And if you have a website that’s consistently updated with new articles or other sorts of information, Twitter makes sense for your business.
The trick with Twitter is that you have to be consistent. It works best if you post on a regular basis and interact with others on the site.
Houzz is a an online community about architecture, interior design and home improvement. Pieces on the site are written by architects and designers, and the site boasts a user forum. Use Houzz as a place to advertise recent additions to your merchandise, or to boost your knowledge of home improvement.
Pinterest is a social network that allows users to share ideas related to their interests. If a user pins an idea, they can check it out later for reference. By utilizing a Pinterest account, you can share projects and product information with users without putting forth too much effort.
Best social media practices
It’s not enough to have a profile on these sites, or just to push content that isn’t particularly engaging. In order to get the most out of your social media usage, you need to generate and distribute content that will intrigue and build your consumer base.
Consider your audience and tailor content specifically for that audience. This is essential to building your brand, and it will also help you gain and retain followers.
Come up with a strategy and stick to it. Utilizing a straightforward and consistent strategy is important. Too many businesses fail to use social media correctly because they have no cohesive identity or posting strategy. By utilizing a tool like Hootsuite, you can schedule posts in advance for several social networks via one easy-to-use dashboard.
Engage with your audience. Don’t let the conversation become one-sided. It’s imperative to interact with your customers and clients, whether it’s thanking them for a positive review or responding to a query about store hours.
It’s not as difficult as you may think to develop and maintain a solid social media presence for your business. In fact, it can be a lot of fun and a chance to be a little creative. Don’t be afraid to give social media a try, or to experiment using new platforms like Instagram and Twitter – it just may be the key to even more success for you and your business.