It’s impossible to ignore the pull and reach of social media across large portions of the population. People are checking their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts on a daily, if not constant, basis. Just think of all the people leaning on their mobiles during their daily commute or those hanging on to their tablet while shopping at the supermarket.
From politics to the latest news, people get information instantly from social media like Facebook and TikTok. They share videos on YouTube. They post their everyday experiences and exchange comments with their friends, thus forming links and human connections across vast areas. People broadcast anything imaginable about their daily life.?
Whether this is a good or bad thing is open to debate. Whether it can be an excellent thing for your business, however, is not. For small local businesses to the biggest multinationals, social media are an excellent tool to handle reputation management, improve brand awareness, and increase sales.
This article examines how your business can grow from expanding your promotional activities to social media.
Direct benefits of social media platforms
There are several tangible, immediate benefits from entering the world of social media to promote and expand your business’ reach, from the ability to generate leads to increasing sales.
If you want to attract people to your business, you need to generate leads. You need to convince strangers that your business is what they are looking for so that they become aware of it and show an interest in purchasing the services or products you sell. To do that, you must first engage people with your brand, attract them to your business, and ultimately sell to them.
The most efficient way to generate leads is through a social media page where people will come across your brand, business, logo, slogan, and everything that defines what you do.
If they are interested in what you are selling and like what they are seeing, they will display their interest by visiting your website, subscribing to your newsletter, or reaching out.
The point is that you need people to become aware of who you are and decide that they want to start an interaction with you—a synergy that will ultimately lead to a sale.
Crucially, your posts and video content don’t need to go viral to achieve that goal. Everyday interaction with your audience can make a world of difference to your lead generation!
Increase website traffic
Once people see you on social media, they will most probably visit your website—especially if you finish your posts with a call-to-action (CTA) button directing people to it.
Website traffic is essential to a business because the more people visit a website, the more the chances that one of them will make a purchase, order something through your e-shop, or make an appointment for your service.
Not all people visiting your website will buy from you.However, by increasing the number of people visiting your website, you increase the probability of some people buying something from you.
Just as importantly, you will start coming up more frequently on searches as your website’s high traffic and increased engagement will raise its ranking with search engines.
All that translates to increased sales!
Increase sales through a marketing funnel
People rarely purchase something from a business on their first interaction with them.
Customers need to get accustomed and acquainted with a brand before they get convinced that it’s worth buying from them. So, you want to reel people to your business slowly by giving them opportunities to get to know you.
There are several methods to get people to know you: videos, photos, promotions, discounts, paid ads, mentions, word of mouth, recommendations, or logo views, to mention but a few. All these are small interactions that bring people one step closer to purchasing from you.
Imagine a new health spa trying to get customers to visit. They may promote their location, show photos of their resort, ask some clients to write a recommendation about them, and run an advertising campaign on a social media platform with a discount for first-time clients.
All this will make people notice the spa’s presence, as it takes up to eight views for people to start noticing a brand. Once the brand has registered with them, they may make an appointment next time they feel they need a spa treatment.
Social media are the perfect way for business to increase their visibility and make themselves heard and seen by people who could be interested in them. The more people become familiar with your brand, the more likely they are to purchase from you.
Promote your content
Promoting your content has never been easier.
Videos, stories, and images are visual content types that people love to see. You can create backstage videos of what happens behind the scenes at your office or a story about something amazing that happened at your business the previous morning. You can upload photos of a charity event your business organized, or you can promote a post with valuable content regarding your line of work.
The opportunities are endless for you to find the appropriate content for your business and upload it for people to laugh, watch, or read. All this will make your brand stick to people’s minds when they’re ready to buy something from you, leading to increased sales.
Cheaper ads: promotion becomes inexpensive
All social media platforms offer paid ads for you to advertise your business to the relevant audience.
Once you choose your audience, then you can create a promotional campaign with, say, Facebook Ads that will target people that you feel are interested in your business, product, or service. Crucially, you can choose the geographical reach of your advertising campaign and the budget you are comfortable with: even a budget of $1 per day can make a difference to people visiting your website, reaching out, or discovering your brand.
Another powerful tool at your disposal is retargeting Ads. When someone visits your website, you can follow them on Facebook and show them Ads corresponding to the products they checked out on your site. With a staggering 70% cart abandonment, retargeting Ads can go a long way toward increasing your sales.
With social media ads, you can grow your business effectively without breaking the bank.
A well-targeted audience
Social media platforms have developed some astonishing reporting and analytics tools. They let businesses analyze and define the audiences that could be interested in their products or services. Facebook Ads, for example, offer detailed reporting and analytics data about lead generation and the engagement your Ads generate.
Instead of running an ad that targets people in general (as happens in TV ads or magazines and newspapers), businesses can find the exact type of customers and clients that will be responsive to them.
A business can search for an audience according to various criteria such as age, location, gender, preferences, likes, behaviors, and other patterns. For instance, a hair salon for children can target a specific segment of the population, such as moms or dads who have children; there is no point in advertising to seniors in this case.
Being able to target your audience means that you can get more form your advertising budget since every dollar you spent is a dollar spent with a specific objective.
Improve search engine ranking
By having a stable and robust social media presence, search engines will rank your business higher. A higher search engine ranking means that people looking for similar services or products to yours will find your business first in the search results page (SERP).
As social media expand their reach, new tools emerge. For example, social media search platforms display search results across several social media. These new tools will allow you to target specific customers based on geographic, age, income, interests, or other criteria.?
Indirect benefits of social media platforms
Besides the direct benefits of having a substantial social media presence mentioned above, other indirect benefits are just as important and valuable to you.
Boost your brand awareness
All business owners have the same concerns. How will you tell people about your brand? How will you communicate your presence and line of business to possible customers?
Social medias are an excellent channel to convey what your brand is and to make it stand up against your competition. What you should be aiming at is for people to hear your brand name and immediately know what you are selling.
Social media platforms offer a wide field to promote your brand.
Through relevant and appropriate posts, video content, and stories, you can show what your business is, what it sells, what differentiates it from the competition, and what your philosophy is.
For example, if you are a landscape architectural bureau specializing in dry climate gardens, you can start by presenting your expertise, showing videos of projects you have undertaken, or offering ideas and solutions about how to create a garden with very little water. You can even discuss climate change and how this will affect landscape architecture. You can also promote exciting articles and interviews from people related to your business.
All these activities will gradually inform people about your brand and what it stands for.
Boost your brand visibility
Among millions of brands, businesses, and logos, you need to get your message across: you need to make your business and brand visible to the public.
Social media are an excellent channel to boost your brand’s visibility.
As more and more people hear, read, and watch about your brand, they become aware of it and learn to recognize it. They will associate your logo’s colors with your brand. They will remember your catchy slogan and know what you are selling. And then, once your brand has been anchored in their mind, they will buy from you when they need a product or service you are selling.
Social media can boost your brand’s visibility because of the sheer number of people your posts can reach.
Boost your brand authority
Are you an expert in your field? Do you feel your business encompasses much more than selling a particular product or service? Do people often seek your expertise and ask for advice?
Social media can help you build your brand authority and show that you know the ins and outs of your industry. Social media platforms can also outline your brand personality and the values and ideals it stands for.
By posting informative and entertaining articles about your line of business—and promoting your products alongside—you show your followers that you are a trustworthy business with a robust background and extensive expertise. That way, you become a brand authority that people trust.
In the example of the landscape architectural practice mentioned above, you can post about flowers that withstand dry conditions. When people comment on your post, you can answer and give helpful and accurate advice. Once this chain of communication has started, people will start trusting your business as an expert in your field. Fresh and updated content with trustworthy information is always valuable and appreciated.
Create a brand personality
Brand personality represents the human characteristics that we often attribute to brands.
Think of the ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s. How would you characterize their business? You would probably think of them as friendly, approachable, and fun. You may perceive them as serious about the quality of their ingredients but also relaxed.
These unpronounced qualities are the brand personality they have nourished and refined throughout the years. Of course, Ben and Jerry’s started their business before social media platforms were big.
Now that we have so many tools at hand, you can promote your firm’s personality throughout the world at a fraction of the cost.
Think of your brand personality. What single word would you use to describe it? Is it casual, funny, formal, official, friendly, authoritative, serious, caring…? After deciding what best represents your business, you can establish a strategy that will help you convey your brand personality to prospective customers and clients.
A practical and direct way to use social media is to provide support and product information through your presence on these platforms.
This presence goes beyond the expertise-building we mentioned above. Yes, when you solve people’s problems and answer their questions, you become an expert in their minds. However, this is about offering support regarding your services or products. For example, if you sell insurance, you can clarify the differences between the different insurance packages you offer, delineating what works best for whom. By answering people’s questions and queries about specific products, you start a communication that can lead to a purchase.
Support also means responding to negative comments and complaints.
Again, being helpful and polite can turn a negative experience into a positive one and convince a dissatisfied client that your business is trustworthy.?
Humanize your brand
People are constantly demanding to see the human behind the brand. They want to form human connections.
Consumers want to see who makes their jeans, who made the flower bouquet they just bought, who prepares their morning coffee. A business is irrelevant without the people who make it. Customers and clients are interested in the stories of these people.
Having a social media presence means you can humanize your brand and show the people, employees, contractors, and anyone connected to your business.
Form human connection by posting a photo of your team reacting to a new contract your business landed. Or, yet again, post pictures of your employees hard at work preparing a new garden—an excellent opportunity to also show before and after photos. Or you can show behind-the-scenes images and videos of how you make your fantastic ice cream. Video content is a great way to lead to increased sales and engagement with your customers!
All that makes social media an excellent channel for your business to display the people that make it exceptional.
Create loyal followers
Once people have become accustomed to your brand, you want to hook them. You want them to purchase from you and become loyal followers and promoters of your business.
A great way of catching people’s attention and attracting them to your business is by interacting with them through social media.
You can use social media to ask followers about their opinion on something related to your business.
The more interactions followers have with your business, the more loyal they will be to your brand. Loyal followers will not hesitate to purchase from you.
Keep an eye on the competition
An interesting byproduct of social media presence is that you can keep an eye on the competition.
Once you have established your business social media account, you will inevitably see how your competitors are doing. You will be able to see what they are promoting, how they are attracting followers, and which types of stories, videos, or photos they are introducing.
While there is no need to become obsessed with your competitors, you can learn much by monitoring their social media presence.
How to reach your customers with social media platforms
Social media strategy creation and management can be quite daunting and overwhelming. Here are some tips and suggestions that can make the whole endeavor approachable and workable.?
Choose the right social media platforms (the ones that suit your business and style)
This is probably the most important tip for you: you do not have to be present on all platforms.
Doing so would require an immense amount of effort and a significant number of people dedicated to monitoring and uploading material on your various accounts. Inevitably, your social presence will suffer if you spread too thin.
Instead, decide which social media platform suits your business and your style.
If your line of business depends on beautiful and amazing photos, Instagram and Facebook are convenient and suitable for you. If you are a formal business dealing with professionals, perhaps LinkedIn would be better for you. If you are into entertainment, Twitter or TikTok could be an excellent promotional channel.
Unless you have practically unlimited manpower and resources, choosing two to three social media platforms to focus on is usually enough.
Your social media presence requires you to upload material regularly. Otherwise, you will go unnoticed, and people will ignore you. Keeping your presence fresh on a handful of media is a far better strategy than having a presence on every single medium there is.
What’s your goal?
Once you have established which social media suit you best, you need to determine your goals and expectations. Do you want to get people to visit your website? Do you want people to purchase from you? Do you prefer to increase your followers on social media?
Each goal requires a different approach and a different type and style of posts. By formulating a clear purpose, you are delineating how you want to use social media to your advantage.
It is best to have one significant goal rather than trying to attract attention from several angles.
Once you have achieved your initial goal, you can move on to a new set of objectives.
Create your strategy
Once you have a clear goal, it’s time to set your strategy. Your strategy will include the steps you will take to achieve your goal.
First of all, you need to determine how often you plan on posting. Make a realistic assumption, based on the available time and workforce you have. Once a day is usually the norm: any less, and you go unnoticed, too much, and you strain your resources.
You also need to decide on the topics and subjects you will be posting about. You need to consider whether the material you plan on posting is readily available or needs to be created. While the former is much easier, the latter is more efficient. However, if you need to prepare fresh material daily, you will require time that could be allocated in a different activity.
Finally, your goal will help you choose the right social media platform for you. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are more appropriate to B2B companies that market products and services to other businesses. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok are better suited for B2C firms that target consumers directly.
Analyze your audience
A fantastic benefit of social media is that you can define the audience you are trying to reach.
Social media platforms offer limitless details about their audiences, and you will be able to target audiences relevant to your business.
Different businesses have wildly different target audiences. A health spa might be interested in older people with back pain while an ice cream shop could target parents with children or parents looking for a place to have their kid’s birthday party.
Some audiences may be better reached, not through Facebook Ads but through Influencers. These are social media users who have many followers and can influence their behavior—hence tie term influencers. For example, a social media influencer with millions of followers on Instagram may be perfect for promoting beauty products, while a blogger with millions of monthly hits may be perfect for product reviews.
The opportunities are endless, but you need to think about the type of content each audience prefers: videos, stories, photos, texts, or snapshots can be used to target different audiences. A well-identified audience means improved engagement, leading to increased sales.
It is crucial to engage your audience. Not only does this offer an excellent way to communicate with your potential clients, but it also makes them ambassadors of your brand and keen buyers of your products and services.
Responding to people’s comments on your posts is an excellent and straightforward way of engagement, letting you keep in touch with potential customers.
Encouraging customers to leave reviews is another great way of interacting with them. Even negative reviews present an opportunity to change people’s opinion of your brand by addressing their dissatisfaction. Reputation management has never even easier!
You can also organize contests and giveaways to keep your audience engaged, involved, and loyal to your brand. You may also ask them to take photos with your product and post them. To maximize engagement, you can even ask them to name one of your products. For example, if you have an ice cream shop, ask your audience to name a new ice cream flavor you are introducing.
Again, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to make every post viral. Consistency and quality are the crucial elements of a successful social media presence.
Assign one person or team responsible for posting: a single voice.
Posting on social media should be assigned to one person or a specific team within your company.
Discuss with them your desired tone and explain the need always to remain polite and helpful and how to promote the business ethically.
Having a single voice on social media means you will have a coherent and consistent sound throughout your strategy. It also means you will know who to speak to in case of a mishap.
Most business owners will have precious little time to work on their company’s social media. That makes perfect sense. So, why not focus on what you do best—grow your business and create killer products and services—and hire a social media expert to handle your social media?
Nicholas C. Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. His books have won numerous awards, including the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. In addition to his best-selling series, Pearseus, he writes short science fiction/speculative fiction stories, many of which have appeared in various collections and anthologies. These include Infinite Waters, which was voted one of the best 50 Indie books of 2015. Visit Nicholas’ personal website.