Business owners, especially older ones, often wonder if there are any real tangible business benefits to be had from social media marketing. The short answer is, “yes.” And a social media marketing strategy can be crafted to help your business reap any or all of these gains (depending on the type of business you have). Social Media Examiner says in their internet marketing industry report (emphasis added):
A significant 89% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Increasing traffic was the second major benefit, with 75% reporting positive results.
1. More communication with customers
Whenever your business has a chance to communicate with customers, you have an opportunity to benefit. And social media marketing makes it easier to do this for most businesses. You can use social media to find out what your customers want in terms of new products and services. You can also learn what you can do better. And if you have made mistakes with customers, social media is another way for customers to let you know, giving you an opportunity to fix the mistakes before you lose the customer.
You can also build a community of customers who support each other. It’s not unusual for fans to help each other with product issues before the company even has a chance to respond. And you can let your customers know about company news, sales and specials and other time-sensitive information and reminders.
2. Get more business
Social media marketing can absolutely be a lead-generating tool for your business. Some of this is because of your direct actions – like when you get the word out about specials and sales. But if you’re lucky and good, your posts may go viral and get shared by fans with people who have never heard of your business before.
Prospects may also use social media to learn more about your company. They can see how and when you respond to customer comments on your social media, giving them peace-of-mind about your business before they purchase. And if they aren’t ready to purchase yet, they may Like or Follow you, giving you a chance to continue to keep your company at the top of their minds.
3. Increase brand recognition
Through social media marketing, you have a chance to establish the look, feel and tenants of your brand and to continue to reinforce them with fans. This can be a powerful tool to increase and solidify brand recognition.
4. Grow business partnerships
Other businesses related to your own may find you on social media and use that channel to reach out to you and start a discussion of a business partnership. This is especially likely if you are on LinkedIn. Not every offer you get may interest you, but that doesn’t mean none of them will. And a good strategic partnership can benefit both companies tremendously.
5. Improved search rankings and website traffic
It’s pretty obvious that, if you link to your website from social media with interesting and engaging content, you are likely to increase your website traffic. You may find, as my customers have, you’re your average time on the site and page views go up, indicating that people are spending longer on your site, looking at more pages. This is all good.
What may not be as obvious is that having links to your site from social media can improve your search ranking. Google likes to reward sites who have lots of other sites linking to them. And your social media profiles count as other sites.
6. Reduced marketing expenses
Although the best social media marketing is not free (see my article about that here), it is still a heck of a lot less expensive than some other traditional forms of marketing – especially trade shows, print ads, and radio/TV ads. You may find you can get similar results with a lot less expenses, improving your Return on Investment (ROI). According to Social Media Examiner, “At least 62% of businesses with 10 or fewer employees agreed social media reduced marketing expenses.”
7. Gain a competitive advantage
As Forbes says, “Whether you realize it or not, your prospects and clients are checking to see if you are engaging in social media. I always find it a bit odd when I’m investigating a potential service provider online and I can’t locate a social media presence or worse, I find Facebook pages that haven’t been updated in months, empty Twitter feeds, and a clear lack of interest in engaging.” There are still some industries without a lot of saturation in the social media marketing space. If you are in one of those industries, you can see real gains by being one of the first to take advantage of the benefits of social media marketing.