Most of us have one or two social media accounts across a few social media sites. It may be LinkedIn for the businesspeople out there (or jobseekers!), or maybe it’s Twitter for those who prefer constant connection and fast-paced information. Perhaps it’s Pinterest for everyone who harbours secret Martha Stewart-like intentions of one day making/wearing/doing some of the many things they pin. For most of us, it’s Facebook, whose user volume numbered a staggering 2.26 billion this year.
What can we learn from this? Social media is a huge, dynamic part of modern life. Are you using it to boost your business? If not, why not? It’s an opportunity for your business to enter the daily lives of billions of people and boasts a host of ways you can use it to bolster your company’s reputation and results.
How Social Media Can Boost Your Business
1. Market Research
An often-lost marketing strategy opportunity is social media as a tool to eavesdrop on your target audiences. By listening in on the conversations they are having, you can build on your buyer persona profile, gaining valuable first-hand insight into their challenges, pain points, aspirations and preferences.
This should be your initial objective using social media: Get to know your audience and influencers before targeting them. Listen and learn before you participate and you will then know precisely what they are looking for from social media engagement and be able to deliver that experience.
2. Build Brand Awareness
Social networks offer an incredible opportunity to promote your brand and improve your online presence. While the principles of inbound marketing encourage using social media platforms as a channel to distribute your educational content to build brand awareness, this needs to be achieved subtly.
Be aware of the ‘cocktail party’ rule to posting on social media, though. You don’t want to be the spotlight hogger. Share your branded content amidst curated and other posts to keep streams balanced and not a blatant promotional opportunity.
We also know that social proof is playing a larger role in search engine rankings than before and if your content is being shared out more regularly on social platforms, chances are that you will build better organic search engine rankings too.
3. Generate Leads
Marketers invest significant time and resources in creating content for lead generation purposes, whether it’s in the form of eBook, blog posts, white papers or case studies. The value of that content is lost, however, if no one ever gets to see it.
By sharing these pieces out on social media, you amplify reach, strengthen brand awareness and drive lead generation efforts. Prospects discover your content on social media channels and go on to convert on your site. Without a social media marketing plan in place, you’re simply publishing your content with the hope that somehow, someway, people will find it.
4. Nurture Leads
We know that the majority of leads generated are not ready to speak to sales at initial conversion. They need to be fed with additional content pertinent to their stage in the buying cycle to guide them through the marketing funnel.
Effective social media monitoring can help you nurture known leads through their buying cycle by keeping an eye on the kind of questions they are asking and information they are looking for. HubSpot is particularly effective can create and monitor a ‘leads stream’ based on your CRM information. You are notified when leads are tweeting about your industry-specific keywords, brand name or even competitors, allowing you to provide helpful information as they need it.
5. Customer Support
When discussing social media as an engagement tool, we often hear the objection, “But what if they say something bad?”. The reality is that they are already talking about your business, whether you are there or not, and non-responsive businesses earn worse reputations than those that do.
Being active on social media allows you to manage these conversations and deal with compliments, complaints or support queries openly and honestly. In doing so, you show both existing and potential clients that they can rely on you to provide support and service post-sale, on the platforms they are most comfortable with for engagement.
Ultimately, there isn’t a good reason not to get your business active on social networks. Reach out and make connections through the power of social media, and you’ll be surprised at the return on your investment.