What are the Benefits of Social Media for Businesses?

benefits of social media for businesses

I always find myself in the position of explaining the benefits of social media for businesses to people who ask. In fact, once I start it’s quite hard to stop, so be careful what you wish for if you ever come a-knocking.

One person I’m constantly answering questions to is my dear old dad – a prime example of someone from a completely different generation who is aware of the digital evolution we’re experiencing and wanting to embrace it. To people like my dad, I applaud you! The future is digital, so it’s important now more than ever to jump on the digital bandwagon, or risk getting left at the station.

I therefore dedicate this blog post to my dad, a man who, in just under a year, has single-handedly transformed himself from a technophobe to a digital enthusiast through the use of his motor recruitment website and electric car blog. The following are queries I encounter on a daily basis, but if you find you still have a burning question by the end, do feel free to get in touch!

How can social media benefit my business?

This is a big question that requires a big answer, but I believe that it all boils down to the following: social media has allowed companies to take customer communication to a whole new level. In essence, you are able to express your company messaging through a two-way channel as opposed to one-way. In metaphorical terms, you’re now using a telephone as opposed to a megaphone and allowing people to speak back. Rather than just telling, you’re now asking, and as a result are opening up conversations with your target audience and receiving feedback and ideas that you might not have had before.

Think about how much you’re currently spending on trying to make your business a success: PR, marketing, advertising, staff training, branding etc. Wouldn’t it be good to know if those efforts and costs are actually working and worth your investment? Days of the customer feedback form are long gone, and conversations are happening in realtime.

You may be worried that social media may open your company up to criticism in the public eye, which is true, but it is also an opportunity to listen to what your customers have to say and improve in areas where you may be lacking. You are able to show your customers that you’re a company that listens and responds, and that will get you far. There’s really no such thing as negative feedback – just an opportunity to make your business the best it can be.

benefits of social media for businesses

Facebook and Twitter – what’s the difference?

I’m not claiming that Facebook and Twitter are the only relevant social media channels for promoting your business, but they are definitely the two main players. I would always recommend starting with these to develop a good social base for your company, and once you’re comfortable (and depending on what you want to achieve with your social campaigns) you can branch out to others, such as Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. There’s a lot to be said for the perks of both Twitter and Facebook, so to keep it clear and simple I’ll address both separately. Bear this approach in mind – Facebook and Twitter may serve the same purpose essentially, but they should always be handled individually.

Facebook pros:

  • There is a whole other side to Facebook created just to accommodate businesses, known as Pages. When you set up a Page, you are letting people know that you are a business with something to offer
  • Facebook works in a similar way to Google in that it organises its content based on algorithms. Facebook’s recent algorithm update now prioritises picture-lead content, meaning it will stay visible to your audience in news feeds for longer. This is also true of content that people engage with through likes, shares and comments
  • Facebook allows businesses to easily find their target audience through the use of paid promotions. Promoting your page can start from as little as £3 a day, and using the audience targeting feature available you can find Facebook users who are interested in what your company has to offer and increase your following
  • Competitions are a great way to engage with your customers and reward them for their loyalty, and thanks to recent updates Facebook is now a great space to host and support competitions. There are also a lot of apps you can add on (free and paid for) to enhance your customer Facebook experience
  • From my own personal experience, I have found it easier to gain Facebook ‘likes’ compared to Twitter ‘followers’, but only when paid Facebook promotions are involved. If you have no budget for social, Twitter is the better option for finding your customer base

Twitter pros:

  • Twitter is a social network constantly updated in realtime, and unlike Facebook, you are able to monitor conversations relevant to your business and seek out your target audience to let them know that your company exists
  • Using Twitter’s ‘list’ feature, you are able to build categories of your target audience to monitor conversations and engage on a daily basis. This is a fantastic tool, so fantastic in fact, that I will be dedicating a whole post to it soon. Stay tuned!
  • Thanks to a recent update, Twitter is now a lot more supportive of businesses and offers paid advertisements and promotions for those who are willing to invest. Just remember that social media users are savvy and don’t always appreciate having their timelines bombarded with unwanted advertisements!
  • Although feedback is a good thing, Twitter is kind in dealing with negative comments from customers. Users can only send messages (Tweets or Direct Messages) to a fellow Tweeter, rather than being able to publicly post on a business profile for all to see. This allows you to deal with any unhappy customers more privately, but isn’t an excuse to ignore the comments altogether
  • Twitter hashtags are a great opportunity for companies to promote campaigns and create shareable, viral content that can raise brand awareness. They are also useful for seeing what conversation topics are most popular on Twitter, creating an opportunity to get piggyback and get involved (where relevant!)
  • Twitter now embeds images into timelines, meaning that image-lead content will stand out more than text-lead

benefits of social media for businesses

Which social networks are better for my business?

I sometimes get asked what I think the best social network is, but this differs from business to business. Before you fully embrace all aspects of social media, it’s useful to sit down and consider what exactly it is you hope to achieve. Do you want to raise your company profile and spread word of what you’re able to offer customers? Do you want to engage with your customers and add a personal touch to your company? Are you looking for a cheaper alternative to advertising and marketing? Whatever the reason, there’s a social media channel for that. The social networks I’ve listed below are ones I think benefit businesses most, but there are always others:

Facebook is best for:

  • Sharing visual content
  • Driving people to your website
  • Inviting customer feedback and engaging with your audience

Twitter is best for:

  • Monitoring conversations, keywords and tapping into relevant communities (this takes time and requires ongoing attention, but is worth it)
  • Actively finding target audiences on a limited budget
  • Promoting campaigns through the use of hashtags
  • Sharing visual content

Google+ is best for:

  • Local business wanting to let potential customers aware of their location and services, particularly with its feature for companies: Google Places
  • Sharing updates and content to attract users to your website
  • Increasing your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Connecting with other businesses and entrepreneurs through the use of Circles

Pinterest is  best for:

  • Sharing visual content from your company’s website
  • Promoting the various categories/services of your business in a visual and engaging way
  • Increasing your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Instagram is best for:

  • Sharing visual content (particularly good for companies involving food!)
  • Promoting campaigns through the use of hashtags
  • Targeting younger customers

LinkedIn is best for:

  • Sharing updates and content to attract users to your website
  • Connecting with and sourcing potential employees without investing in pricey recruitment agencies

Feel free to leave comments below if you have any questions or suggestions! As I said, there’s no such thing as negative feedback. I could regret this claim later!

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