When social media was new and still picking up steam, the question many business owners and executives asked was “is it really necessary for business development purposes?”
Now, however, most businesses have at least dabbled in social media. And if you take a look at your competitors, you’ll see that most of them have an active presence on at least some social networks.
So the answer is “yes”, you should use social networking to make yourself known and to establish credibility with your target audience.
Active and strategic use of social media yields many business benefits:
- Build Your Brand
Social media is a powerful brand building tool. Effective use of social media can increase brand awareness and help create a positive perception of your company.
- Generate Inbound Leads
Your audience on social media is only one click away from your website. A good social media strategy can go a long way into turning this audience into website traffic and leads.
- Increase Conversion Rates
Once you get more leads, you must convert them. If you’ve cultivated a good relationship with your audience on social media, those leads are more likely to like and trust your brand – and convert. Social media has a proven higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.
- Get Referrals and Recommendations
Social media is a powerful “word of mouth” resource that leads directly to referral business. Referred or recommended prospects typically result in a higher close rate. You can also use social media to solicit testimonials for your website or reviews for your Google Business page.
- Improve Customer Service and Retention
Monitoring social media activity allows you to deal with customer problems quickly.
You will be able to turn negative customer experiences into positive ones, creating value-based relationships with your existing customer base and potential customers.
- Connect with Influencers in Your Industry
Enhance your reputation by exchanging information and communicating with the people and communities that influence your target prospects.
- Expand Your Reach and Gain Access to New Markets
Social media is a force multiplier. It gives your business access to audiences beyond your own networks.
Two particularly effective strategies for reaching new audiences are: 1) post content that people want to share, and 2) use social media advertising to your advantage.
- Conduct Research and Better Understand Your Target Markets
Social media provides a rich source of market intelligence: likes/dislikes, new product ideas, ways to improve customer service, competitive intelligence, industry trends, etc.
Get ahead of the innovation curve by incorporating this insight into new product development and unique customer service processes.
- Influence Search Engines
With social search becoming more of a reality and exerting more influence on search engine rankings, active participation in social media is becoming a must for SEO purposes.
- Spend Less on Marketing
Social media has a relatively small barrier to entry. With minimal costs, it allows smaller businesses to compete with the “big guys”.
Paid advertising on social media is significantly less expensive than traditional forms of advertising – and you can track the results much more easily.
Use Social Media Strategically
To get a positive business impact from social media activities, it must be approached strategically. Just jumping in with both feet, without an understanding of its role within an online marketing plan, will not produce desired results and can in fact be detrimental.
Remember to think in business terms. Understand your purpose for engaging in social media. Set goals, select the right platforms, and track results.
The jury is in on social media; these are powerful business development tools that can help you grow your business.
Ben Molfetta is the co-founder of Core Online Marketing. He helps small and mid-sized businesses grow by planning, implementing, and executing winning online marketing strategies. Visit coreonlinemarketing.com or email Ben at [email protected].