The importance of social media in business? Let’s begin with a statistic. Globally, over 3.6 billion people use social media and the number is only projected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025.
Talk about a pandemic. (Too soon?)
Social Media has taken the whole World by storm. Individuals have gone from spending 90 minutes a day on Social Media platforms in 2012 to 145 minutes per day in 2020. That’s two hours and twenty five minutes in a day on average.
So who started this revolution?
Andrew Weinrich started Six Degrees in 1997 and it’s considered the first Social Media platform to have existed. Following this, platforms like MySpace and Friendster cropped up over the years. 2004 was the year of big boom in Social Media when Facebook was founded. All of these platforms were started with an intention to have people socialise in the digital world.
As Seth Godin says, “Build it, and they will come” only works in the movies. Social Media is a “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.”
A walk through the SMM Hall of Fame
Adding the Marketing to Social Media
With the gradual increase in social media platforms, it only seemed right to market products/services on them aside from socialising.
Social Media Marketing started when marketers took a close look at the number of people active on social media. They saw great potential in using this platform to increase brand awareness and sell products/services too.
Today, along with using social media to interact with friends, people interact and buy from businesses too! It has come to a stage where a business without a social media presence is considered as good as non-existent. Talk about the importance of social media in business.
Social Media gives businesses a chance to personally interact with their consumers. This allows them to create and enhance overall consumer experience. Consumers are more likely to purchase from you if they have a pleasant encounter with one of your social media pages.
Adding the Human Element
Let’s face it, as much as we love technology, speaking to bots isn’t something we look forward to. Without a human touch, businesses seem like machines and giant empty structures. Social Media solves this problem by making the brands more human. By looking at your social media presence, a consumer can find out your brand’s identity and have something to relate to on the other side of the screen.
The Future is Video
This is important among the other points in the importance of social media in business. This we know for sure, the future of social media marketing is video. Humans are visual creatures. And while photos do the job just fine, a video captures greater attention by creating an audio-visual experience. You don’t have to take our word for it, let the statistics do the talking – ‘’86% of people would like to see more video from brands as of 2020.’’
Speaking of Statistics
There are businesses that record YoY growth and there’s social media as a whole industry clocking a 13.2% YoY increase, gaining 490 million users this year.
From an entrepreneur’s perspective, social media is much more about promoting their brand than it is a personal affair. Entrepreneurs are looking to gain a loyal following for their brand, thereby increasing sales and revenue for the business. Reportedly, 77.6% of small businesses use social media to promote their businesses.
And this is definitely a step in the right direction as it’s one of the easiest ways to reach the target audience. Your audience spends a good portion of their day on different social media applications. Looking for brand related information on social media platforms has become a basic instinct for many. In fact, 44.8% of global internet users used social media to search for brand information in 2020. Such is the importance of social media in business.
Hi, We Exist
As much as it would help, people won’t magically know of your brand’s existence. They need to be made aware of it. That’s Step 1 of your Social Media Marketing Strategy: creating awareness about your brand. This is Step 1 in the importance of social media in business.
A common mistake businesses make is jumping directly into lead generation and conversion. You don’t walk up to someone and ask them out right off the bat. (If you do and if it’s worked, teach us your skills). You strike a conversation, introduce yourself, get comfortable and then bring up your interest. Your relationship with your consumers needs nurturing too.
Your consumers should know your brand’s existence. Following this, they should be able to recognize it when they come across it. This way, they might not immediately purchase your product/service. But you’ll most likely be the first brand that comes to mind when they do wish to purchase what you sell.
A tourism business wouldn’t exactly have any social media campaign ideas in the face of a pandemic, right? Wrong. Hello BC managed to run a successful campaign that allowed for them to stay on their audience’s feeds and be mindful about the pandemic. They launched a #ExploreBCLater campaign that was mostly driven by User Generated Content (UGC). Social Media Users, Travel Bloggers and Tourism Pages hopped on the campaign making it a successfully recognized affair.
Start a Conversation
Posting on Social Media and not interacting with the engagement received is the equivalent of ignoring a person to their face. A huge part of the role of social media in marketing is to interact with your customer.
Yes, a social media strategy is important.
Creative content suitable for each platform is important.
Regular posts and updates are important.
But this will all seem futile if you don’t interact with your audience. Strike a conversation in the comments, ask them a question on a post, put up a Poll story, these are just some of the ways of encouraging the audience to develop a healthy relationship with the brand.
The snack brand MoonPie for example interacts with the audience in their signature brand tone – fun, quirky and casual. They also start conversations around their updates/events and that gets their audience talking too!
Practice Social Listening
‘’You’re hearing us but are you really listening to what we’re saying?’’
Social Listening is knowing what is being said about your brand, product/service, people – everything that your business is made up of – on social media. We don’t just mean adhering to a comment notification. Find out where your brand is being spoken about, who is advocating it and don’t just stop with listening, interact with your audience there as well.
eMarketer reports, ‘’Half of the worldwide marketers have turned to social listening to understand consumers’ changing preferences during the pandemic.’’
It helps with finding out who uses your brand, reviews it and getting in touch with them. It helps with understanding the kind of audience you want to write content for specifically. And it helps with competition.
Speak your Truth
This might be a little Shakespeary but your brand story is after all, your brand’s truth. And why should you speak it?
- A brand story helps people understand the purpose of your business, the WHY behind your brand.
- It portrays your brand in the spotlight.
- It appeals to the emotional side of a consumer.
- It personifies/humanizes your brand.
A notable example of Brand Storytelling is this post by Intel –
The brand generally speaks about it’s history, founding people and employees and the stories backing these events. They bring out the sentiment beautifully as is above.
Customer Service Always
89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.
Now that’s a staggering percentage. And that’s how crucial customer service is to your brand. In the digital world, it’s as simple as it is hard to provide a good customer experience. Yes, you can reach and interact with your customers easily today but that also leaves you vulnerable to negative feedback on a public platform.
Extra measures should be set to make sure every stage of the customer’s journey is covered and they have a smooth, pleasant experience. Why is that so important? If they’re happy with your service,
- They’ll purchase from you again
- You will receive positive feedback
- They will recommend you to their friends/family
- They’ll be happy to pay more as well
- It will improve your brand’s reputation
- It will provide you with a competitive advantage
- Good business means more business
- Positive social media reviews translate to credibility
After all, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” — Jeff Bezos
The music streaming platform Spotify went the extra length and set up a dedicated customer support handle @spotifycares on Twitter. They answer customer queries on the fly and it’s safe to say their audience is very satisfied with the service! That’s leveraging the importance of social media in business in the best way.
Loyal to You
The process doesn’t end with a sale made. Customer Retention comes into picture as the next part of the funnel. This requires brand loyalty. Because a customer who’s loyal to you is automatically not to your competition. A loyal customer is someone who has had a terrific experience with your brand.
This entails positive interactions, positive feedback, referrals; all in all, they turn into a brand advocate. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But making sure each customer has such an experience? Isn’t that near impossible? Certainly not and here are some ways you can work toward it:
- Make User Generated Content your best friend
- Take their feedback seriously
- Zero negative feedback is a myth – learn to turn your negative feedback into positive opportunities for your brand
- Create content that helps your audience resonate with your brand’s personality
- Go above and beyond
Yes, it’s as simple as the last one. It shows you genuinely care about your customer.
Hi, Find Us Here
The simplest way you can direct your social media audience to your site/blog – adding the ‘link in bio’.
You’ve created a website for your brand. Now you have to spread the word about it. And social media marketing is one of the most effective ways of doing that. Through social media links, you can double your site referral traffic.
Why use social media for business? Because it assists with link building which in turn increases traffic to your website.
Link building is essentially having links in different places on the internet link back to your website. This adds to the credibility of your website and works beautifully for your SEO practices as well.
Dip your toe in the social media pool, learn what people on the internet have to say about your brand. Find out about influencers/bloggers/news outlets in your industry and consider building relationships with them. Be careful whom you’re associating with; you want to cast a wide net not a worldwide one.
Remember that outfit you added to your cart and didn’t end up buying? Notice how it mysteriously pops up minutes after on your social media news feed?
Remarketing is essentially brands placing cookie crumbs through a customer’s journey so they can use those crumbs later in order to remind us of the-almost-sale. It’s not nearly as creepy as it sounds.
In fact, the click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad.
The people you should be remarketing to come under one of the following categories:
- They’ve interacted with your page but don’t follow you yet
- Spent some time browsing your website without purchasing anything
- Subscribed to your newsletter
- Added an item to card but but checked out
Here are some ways you can increase conversions, get that sale through the door –
- Call To Action is giving your customer a clear next step to any of your promotional strategies. A strong CTA helps increase chances of conversions significantly.
- Every single post and tweet across all social media platforms should have a unified brand identity. This builds faith and in turn conversions.
- The UI across your social media presence should be seamless. The customer shouldn’t have to think twice to complete the process of purchasing something from you. Your website should be mobile friendly.
- Use analytics tools to track your conversions. Understand what is working for your brand and build on that.
- Use promotional video content as it gains the most traction.
Hi, This is our Product/Service
Driving Sales via Promotion
One fail-safe way of driving sales via promoting products is creating targeted ads. This requires knowledge of your target audience in order to properly create and direct the post to them.
A simple example is a photo ad like this one –
It speaks of a bag introduced by Wendy’s with an assortment of their food items in it. A neat picture that communicates a clear message to the consumer. This is sure to drive sales for the business.
A shop inside the social media of the shop.
Ever click on those little bag icons that pop up on a post? They take you directly to the product page of the featured item. This is shoppable content. Such content can be found in the form of images, videos, blogs, social media uploads and the list goes on.
It’s important because it’s an extremely simplified process for a consumer. It reduces their buying time and allows them to purchase while still on social media.
A popular example is the leading fashion retailer H&M. They make content featuring their products and add shopping tags to almost all of their products.
Shoppable content is an effective way to feature your product and make it easier to shop it too.
Exclusivity is known to generate curiosity and demand. Posting certain offers/discounts only on social media is a great promotional tool as it automatically generates that unique demand for your product.
SoulCycle offers a certain part of their collection only on their Instagram page. This not only brings in a natural following to their Instagram, it also promotes their brand and creates a conversation around the exclusivity.
Creating brand awareness via quality content and targeting helps you reach your audience. But how do they know your product is good? How do they trust you? It’s through presenting social proof to your audience that they can deem you trustworthy.
Testimonials play a huge role in converting potential customers. They help naturally increase your reach, improve brand recognition and boost the brand’s credibility with the general audience. Positive reviews help customers be sure of your brand and often function as the extra boost required to finally make that purchase.
It’s also about how you present the testimonials to your audience. You want to start by thanking the customer for taking the time out to drop the feedback. Make it a point to repost such reviews and when you’re posting reviews from another medium, keep it short and preferably accompanied with a visual aid.
Sampling is a very basic and effective concept in statistics. A/B testing is a variant of it, where you can sample two versions of a post and find out which performs better with your audience.
It’s a foolproof element to your content marketing strategy. Yes, you already have a good idea of your target audience based on research. But this helps you do real time testing and lock in greater conversion percentages.
You can test the post text, headlines, image/video, hashtags and the CTA. Have a look at this example by IKEA –
The simple difference in headline is part of their A/B testing.
This is a no brainer.
In 2007, Chriss Messina used the first hashtag and the rest is history. From using it to pool similar content groups, hashtags are a common part of the Millenial and Gen Z lingo today.
- Hashtags allow you to categorise content.
- It helps users find you, serving as an effective traction tool.
- It builds brand awareness.
- Increases engagement with your existing followers.
A great example of branded hashtags is the #WeTheNorth hashtag by Toronto Raptors during the 2019 season. The team’s winning blew up social media with this hashtag, making it one of the most used in the first half of the year in Canada.
Your customers follow you on social media because they want to be updated about your brand and its products. So you need to do just that. Make sure to plan well ahead of launches and create a buzz around them on your social media platforms. Instead of having just one post about your launch the day before,
- plan out a campaign,
- put out teasers,
- create intrigue around the launch,
- ask your audience to guess,
- have fun with it!
Keeping your platforms up to date with the brand’s happenings keeps your social media active and keeps your customer well informed and interested.
The clothing brand Uniqlo launched a new linen collection on their website and followed it up a couple days later with a post on their Instagram handle. By keeping up to date, you are consequently promoting your product/service.
What will become of Social Media Marketing?
The importance of social media in business but make it future tense.
There’s this very interesting article we read and we want to highlight our key takeaways from it here, with you. It talks about the future of social media and the role it plays in marketing for businesses/brands. The article was published in 2019 so we’re already in the middle of the future theories it holds.
Social Media is a deeply integrated portion of any business’s marketing strategy today. It’s an unspoken rule – set a budget, strategize and get on the social media bandwagon!
Omni Channel Approach
There are customers across multiple social media platforms, every one of them giving a business one extra shot at reaching their target audience. This has pushed businesses toward an omni channel approach toward social media marketing.
Tell us you’ve never been influenced to purchase a product/service by a public figure and we’ll make a statue of you. Influencer Marketing has been around for a long time. Even before social media, there were ads on print, radio, TV commercials etc that featured celebrities.
The only difference is the volatility and accessibility of the market. Today, a person with a decent following (a couple thousands and upward) on any/all platforms on the internet is deemed a micro influencer. Social Media Influencers are mostly people with an expertise in one field. This translates to a niche audience which is a brand’s jackpot.
Influencer marketing is all the rage now and there is tremendous growth opportunity in the industry (yes, it’s a separate industry now). The market value is 13.8 Billion USD as of 2021.
The Dark Side
There’s cons to everything, right? Gen Z is said to be the loneliest of generations and this finding is being attributed to social media. Ironically enough, the platform that was created to help people stay connected is curbing individuals away from it.
Social Media devices have become our best friends and internet devices our favourite hang out spots. Throw this in a mix with the pandemic and you’ve got yourself a bunch of individuals who are closed off to actual human interaction. In light of this, social media platforms have responded with additional features that give you time prompts for example.
Something to think about from a futuristic perspective is how we can focus on the quality of usage of social media over quantity. Shift from how much time we spend on these platforms to what we surf in that time spent. So when you think about the importance of social media in business, think about just how much importance the platform is given too.
Here is a plausible direction we believe social media marketing is headed for in the future.
Terms like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are already part of layman conversations today. Technology is rampant worldwide and social media is not being left behind in the process.
In the last month, Indian e-commerce brand Flipkart added an AR feature on its app, enabling consumers to have a ‘’view in my room’’ experience with their furniture. A lot of brands today are integrating AR and VR into their social media marketing. And in hopes of providing an experience that caters to multiple senses, brands are looking to create audio rich content as well.
As of 2017, experts said that a good 15% of Twitter accounts are bots. With ad spend in the picture, a lot of the traction is said to be generated by bot accounts. It’s simple right? You get your likes, the social media platform gets their Benjamin Franklins.
Not so simple. It’s becoming tougher to gauge a brand’s social media marketing success due to this. Consumers lose trust in brands that gain ‘’fake’’ followers and traction. We can expect regulations in place for bots masquerading as humans as was done in California in 2018.
The future is AI and this applies to social media as well. We’re talking about an increase in virtual influencers, Therapy bots, Coach bots and a lot more. Furthermore, it would be interesting to see inter-bot relationships and how that impacts social media marketing.
So, are you ready to up your social media game and be your brand’s best hype(wo)man? This is about what we wanted to cover with regard to the importance of social media in business.
We’d love to talk about what you could do for your brand with social media, so feel free to reach out to us here.
Until next time, take care and stay safe lol xoxo