Can-social-media-help-my-businessMany business owners are concerned that are missing the social media boat  but remain unconvinced the benefits. They often get side tracked by personal opinions about Facebook (“My daughter wastes her life on that thing!”) or Twitter (“Who cares what so-and-so had for breakfast?!”). And with every passing month it seems that a new social media technology demands our attention. Instagram? Pinterest? Vine? The list is endless. Where do we business owners start?

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OK – let’s not talk about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Google Plus etc and just concentrate on what business owners usually mean when they ask the question. After all, social media is not really about the technology – it’s about the interactive relationships your business can build with customers. Once you understand that – then the search for the most appropriate type of social marketing for your business can come next.

Social media is a way that people communicate, share and engage with each other through new media technology applications. It is immediate, interactive, responsive and highly powerful. It allows businesses to strike up conversations with existing and potential customers.

Social media should not be treated as ‘broadcast’ media (like print advertising, direct mail, radio, outdoor, etc) which are all one way communication from business to customer. Social media allows a two-way dialogue that you would like to have with your customers.

But be warned, social media is not right for every business. If your customers are not, and are never likely to be, engaging with social media themselves, then it may not be a priority for you today. That said, your customers of tomorrow WILL be using it, so ignore it at your peril.

So, how can social media help your business?

This is not an exhaustive list by any means – and the possibilities grow every day. but, in no particular order, it’s a good place to start…

1. If your business relies on lasting customer relationships and repeat business (as most do!), the social media is the best thing available for building and maintaining strong and relevant relationships with people/customers. Bar none.

2. Whatever business you’re in, our customers are almost certain to be using it already. You should try to connect with them in a way that’s convenient and easy for them to connect back. Social media allows you to make one-to-one contact with your clients. Simple as that.

3. In terms of ongoing investment, getting started on social media is very low cost compared to more traditional forms of marketing and promotion. Most of the basic applications are free to use and even buying a few bits of software (apps) to make things work better is fairly inexpensive. Consequently, your ROI should be quicker and greater.

4. Social media can help you understand what is right and what is wrong about everything from your own company and products to your competitors or industry as a whole. Using social media to listen and monitor what the public are saying about things relevant to you and your business can provide highly valuable market knowledge.

5. Social media is a great way to instantly share anything you want to with your existing or potential customers. News, info, offers, coupons, pictures, the lot. But bear in mind it is rarely a successful direct marketing channel in its own right.

6. By successfully engaging with your customers via social media, it’s likely that they will enthuse among their social media connections and so your reputation will grow. It’s simply digital word-of-mouth.

7. Social media can be an effective way to manage your own PR and reputation. It allows you to deliver your success stories more effectively and even react to crises before they escalate.

8. Most people expect a business to have a social media presence these days. Failure to be involved can make your enterprise look behind the times, old fashioned and out of date.

9. Social media can enhance your brand awareness. If your branding is consistent across different media, you will create something more recognisable and dynamic. Plus, by using social media, your brand can become more rounded and develop a personality.

10. Social media can help your business with new areas of collaboration as other related businesses in your sector can easily connect and work with you.

11. Social media can help your business website grow traffic. Major search engines now include social media updates and posts in their results. For better rankings with Google some form of presence on Google Plus is almost essential. If your business is involved; you will have more chance of being found on the web.

12. Finally – social media is NOT just for young people with no money and too much time. Recent stats show that the average age of a Facebook user is 38 and that the average age on Twitter is 39.

When it comes to developing and implementing social media for your business, the biggest cost can be time. But if your social media strategy is reaping dividends, then it’s time well spent.

And if you really don’t have time, then ask a social media management company (like us!) to do things for you.