Why do businesses use social media?
There are a number of reasons why small and large businesses choose to use social media as part of their marketing, sales and customer service strategy.
Social media is another avenue for you to carry out customer service. Not only can you handle questions and queries, but Facebook in particular acts as another avenue for users to leave reviews.
Top tip: If you’re dealing with a complaint in a comment, respond to the comment and then continue the conversation in private via direct messages. This will show other users that you’re responsive, but allows you get into enough detail to handle the complaint without it being publicly broadcasted.
Increase brand awareness
Whether you run an independent high street shop or an online retailer, social media is a great way to reach a new audience that you may not have otherwise attracted.
Interactions on social media reach further than just one person’s timeline. If a user interacts with one of your posts, their interaction will likely appear on one of their friends or followers’ timelines too. This combined with sponsored and paid advertising will help you reach a much broader audience than you thought possible.
Not only can you increase brand awareness and reach a new audience, social media is also really useful as a lead generation tool.
It provides you the chance to showcase your products or services and demonstrate how they fit into your customers lives.
How you categorise a lead is up to you but social media can help users find your website, directly purchase your products, or make an enquiry.
Take on the competition
Chances are your competitors are on social media so you should be too.
Social media is also an easy way for you to research your competition. Can you spot any gaps that you could exploit? Are they posting content that you know you can better? Do they have any feedback that you could take on board? It’s all there for you to find.
Understand what customers really think
The search function on many social media platforms helps you understand what people are saying about your business even if they’re not saying it to you.
This can help you gauge sentiment and address any problems that you might not be aware of.
In a similar vein, social media is also your opportunity to manage your reputation. You can clearly respond to any negative press or sentiment and make sure that you’re seen to be solving problems.
Benefits of social media for business
There are loads of benefits of social media regardless of the platform you choose. Here are just five ways that social media can benefit your business.
- Social media lets you learn more about your audience. It’s the perfect place to test new marketing messages or products and use engagement results to measure the success. This can help you refine your offering and make better, more informed decisions.
- Social media is key in building your brand. Most social media platforms are casual and informal so they give you the perfect opportunity to play around with how your brand speaks and your visual identity too. The more familiar and comfortable people are with your brand, the more memorable you and your products or services will be.
- It empowers you to easily and effectively build a community with your customers. You may not necessarily have the time to stop and chat with everyone in the shop, but with social media you can engage customers and build a rapport on an open-ended basis. You might find that they’re comfortable enough to leave you with honest feedback that you can put to good use.
- You can use social media on your own time. You can take the time to plan and execute posts as and when you have the time so it fits nicely around your schedule. There are loads of free tools available that let you schedule posts ahead of time so you can focus on answering comments and queries in your spare time.
- Once you’ve built your audience and community, organic social media posts are essentially a free form of advertising. Most platforms also allow you to publish paid advertisements and you can set the budget so you have greater control.
Disadvantages of social media for business
Of course social media isn’t without its drawbacks.
- Social media can be very demanding. In order to give it a chance at success, you need to put in the time and effort to create posts and engage with users multiple times a week, across several platforms if you choose to do so. And that’s even before you factor in creating content like photos or videos, and keeping track of how successful those posts are.
- Social media is fast paced and that can be overwhelming. Knowing exactly what your audience will like and are talking about is difficult. It’s important to remember that as with many things, social media is about quality not quantity.
- You may attract unwanted attention. Social media is very good at drawing attention to people and accounts for all the wrong reasons. You need to ensure that your content is right for your audience and won’t land you in any hot water.
- Results aren’t instantaneous. While social media requires time and effort, you won’t see quick results. The most effective strategies focus on building a community and marketing to that audience. You have to be willing to invest resources to make it work.
- It’s much easier to be negative on social media. This is the case with Twitter especially as many people turn to the platform to share their negative experiences with businesses. It’s what you do with that feedback that’s important though, always try and address and fix grievances where you can.