Social media is the focus of the fourth week of this five-part series discussing online marketing basics for small business. As a fairly new channel, social media has been attempted by many but mastered by only a few. With over 72 per cent of all internet users now active on social media, there is great potential for reach and engagement with targeted audiences.
What Is Social Media?
Social media marketing is about proactively utilising social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to urge people and online communities to visit your website and to build consumer awareness of your brand.
While marketing channels like email and television advertisements are considered one-way communication – where you are basically just pushing advertising to the consumer, social media is a two-way conversation where you actively communicate with your audience and they respond to you, and vice versa.
As social media has developed, it is now used as a tool for customer relationship management, by which you can garner an understanding of customers’ issues and feedback about your business. Further, having an active social media presence aids in maintaining a relationship with your existing customers and can help to build relationships or to gain exposure with potential customers.
Why Should You Invest Time and Money Into Social Media?
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are online communities of consumers engaging with their friends and associates. Research has demonstrated that consumers are highly influenced on social media by what their pals are engaging with (a term named “social proof”). Interacting with your existing customers and keeping a solid social relationship with them will entice their mates to your business, boosting the potential for you to achieve fresh customers. Shareaholic states that “referrals from the top 5 social media platforms have more than doubled” in the last year. This shows the huge potential for boosting your business’ visibility in the social space.
What Can You Expect With Social Media?
Once you establish a social media presence, expect a lift in the traffic to your website. You can also anticipate learning about improvements you could make to your business’ products and services, as customers begin to give you feedback. The “social signals” garnered from links to your business website from posts on social media outlets will also impact your rankings on search engines.
Like content marketing, you need to ensure that your social media channels are engaging and are giving value to your audience. Social media is an opportunity to give your business a personality and lift its reputation amongst a targeted audience. Ensure you are regularly updating and engaging with your network. Make sure that you reply to all comments and enquiries without delay.
Social media is an excellent channel to utilise when you are setting up your presence online. As with other online marketing channels, some up-front planning will go as long way towards achieving a positive outcome. Think about matters such as who it is you wish to target; in what ways you will engage with your target audience; how regularly you will post; and who will be in charge of the management of your online reputation. By thinking carefully about the purpose of your social media channels and what will provide value to your customers, you will witness strong engagement and a solid and steady lift in traffic to your business website.