We all know what social media is, right?

by Michael Winter

Social Media

It’s tempting to dismiss the reasoning behind why small businesses need social media.

Seeing an employee logging into one of the many of the social media platforms he’s signed-up to means that he’s not working, doesn’t it?

That’s the connection we’ve made with scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed – that it’s fun; it’s not work.

But if you have this mentality, it’s probably time to change it. And fast.

Social media networks are one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

Because of their rapid rise, seemingly coming from nowhere to being absolutely everywhere, it’s easy to disregard the phenomenon as a fad. A bubble that’s just waiting to burst.

But when you consider that 48% of the world’s entire population are on the internet, and 71% of those have social media accounts, it should be pretty obvious by now that social media is here to stay.

And if you’re not leveraging this phenomenon to grow your business then you’re missing out. In a big, big way.

When social media is mentioned, most people think of Facebook and probably Twitter. They’re a good place to start, but there’s more to the social media game then just those two.

Facebook – it’s the biggest and arguably the most powerful of the social media platforms with a whopping 1.71 billion users. Facebook has been shaping the social media landscape since it launched.

Twitter – with 313 million users, the micro-blogging platform still has some way to go catch Facebook’s unprecedented numbers. But it remains one of the ‘hot’ platforms at present.

Instagram – with 500 million users, the visually-orientated platform is a social network that won’t work for everybody but cannot be ignored.

LinkedIn – the businessman’s social media platform, LinkedIn focuses largely on B2B marketing. If you’re in the B2B vertical, 106 million users are not something to be sniffed at.

We believe that these are the four platforms that carry the most weight, from a digital marketing standpoint. Though honourary mentions must be made to:

Reddit – 243 million users, but a very picky audience that largely frowns upon blatant advertising ploys.

Snapchat – the new kid on the block with 200 million users and 6 billion+ page views each day.

Pintrest – 100 million users for the visually-oriented platform that’s similar to Instagram.

YouTube – 1 billion+ users, but can the video-sharing website really be considered a social media platform?

With those eye-watering numbers, you’re hopefully starting to see the pool of resources you’re neglecting if your business doesn’t engage in any social media practices whatsoever.

But numbers can be boring, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why you’re here.

The 21 reasons that you came here for…

1. Share your content to a wider audience, faster and easier

As you’re probably aware by now, we love content marketing here at Litebulb HQ. And that’s precisely why we’ve placed this reason at the top of our list. Getting content to a wide audience used to be a tricky business.

You’d write an article, post it on your blog, send an email to all of your subscribers and then… wait and hope that it got some traction and started to climb the search engine rankings.

With the use of social media however, you can get your content in front of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people with just a few posts. And if it’s a good post, it’ll get shared by those readers and continue to grow and grow.

2. Drive more traffic

The more paths you have leading back to your site, the better. And we’re not just talking about backlinks, here. Inbound traffic is hugely important. It’s the kind of traffic that you really want. Every time you share a piece of content on a social media platform, you’re exposing your company to a large audience. And that provides more opportunities to gain new visitors.

3. Higher converting leads, therefore increased sales/opt-ins

Why do you get higher converting leads? It’s quite straightforward: the more quality content you distribute via social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate by readers clicking on your post and visiting your website. As long as your website is properly optimised for lead generation, more traffic means more leads. And more leads means more conversions.

4. It’s seen as conversational – not marketing – so users are more receptive

People are very wary of marketing and of marketers. Their daily life is saturated by adverts, so it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd. Because social media established itself in our daily routines as a fun and, duh, social experience, a person is more likely to have their guard down. When approached cleverly, with a conversational and not promotional tone, users are more receptive. This will allow you to portray your message without having to fight through so much skepticism.

5. Give your SEO efforts a welcome boost

As we’ve established elsewhere, SEO is the best way to seize relevant traffic from organic search results. While this is not 100% verified, it is highly likely that Google and other search engines are taking your social media presence into consideration when ranking your web pages.

And even if this isn’t quite 100% accurate, we do know for certain that more page views increase a web page’s authority. And that definitely is a factor in ranking highly in the search engines.

Plus, it doesn’t matter where the traffic comes from. Therefore, a popular post on Facebook that drives traffic to your article will give your website a healthy SEO fillip.

6. Connect with your audience & improve customer relationships

Old school methods of marketing are pretty much a one-way street, you’d have to admit. You don’t get a lot of customer engagement though a printed advert, after all. But building enriched relationships with your customers is a critical way you can separate yourself from your competition.

Feedback and interaction are significant tools. Conversing with customers who comment on a product or service can build strong ties. And people are far more likely to trust a company that offers feedback and deals with queries on a one-to-one basis.

7. Improve customer services by responding much faster

Speaking of which, social media provides customers with a convenient and accessible method of sharing their positive or negative experiences with your company. A positive review or feedback will always help a potential customer to decide that your company is the right way to choose.

Negative feedback, complaints and criticisms are obviously a bad thing. But you should embrace them also. A company that promptly and transparently responds to and deals with such issues will be seen in a better light than those that seem to ignore their dissatisfied customers.

8. It provides a richer customer experience

Personability is a strong anchor where user experience is concerned. When a large company replies to a customer via social media to appease a concern or thanking them for a compliment, it can sometimes garner national media coverage. Creating a personal experience for your customer makes your company more relatable and builds trust faster.

9. Build your brand’s reputation

Almost 75% of shoppers research a company online before committing to a purchase. So having a solid online reputation could be make-or-break. Having a social media presence allows customers to find you and connect with you easily.

Making yourself more familiar, easily accessible and recognisable, to both existing and new customers, will help grow the reputation of your brand.

A user, for example, who has never heard of your company before may randomly encounter one of your posts while scrolling through his/her newsfeed and hey presto, you have yourself a new visitor. Similarly, a former customer who has been ‘out-of-touch’ for a while may suddenly become re-engaged by encountering that very same post. And repeat customers are always more likely to buy than brand new ones.

10. Build loyalty from your user-base

According to Texas Tech University’s report, customers are far more loyal to brands that have a strong social media presence.

The report even went as far as stating: “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into being brand loyal.”

It’s not difficult to see why. People buy from companies they trust and social media allows a company to build that trust be being personable and transparent. That trust is easily converted into loyalty, providing the company treats the customer well.

11. Your competition already does

Chances are, no matter what industry you operate within, one (or probably more) of your competitors engages in social media.

What does that mean for you?

A couple of things, actually.

Firstly, when customers are researching companies online prior to their buying decision, they are not finding you.

Secondly, there is a plethora of traffic and potential leads on social media that is just waiting to be approached. If you aren’t doing it, you can bet your bottom dollar that your competition is.

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12. If your competition isn’t on social media either, then what are you waiting for? You’re ahead of the game!

In the unlikely – and we do mean extremely unlikely – event that your competitors are not active on social media, then that should give you even more impetus to get started yourself!

You’re in a rare position of getting ahead of the curve in a game that is not new. Dive in. Immediately! And start reaping the rewards before somebody else gets the great idea to do it before you.

13. If you’re smart & creative, you can compete with the really big players

Sure, the big boys have bigger budgets. You can’t compete with that. But here’s the secret – you don’t need to.

Clever and information-rich articles, eye-grabbing images, headlines that evoke curiosity are all just one thought (and a bit of elbow grease) away. Social media platforms are a great leveller because anybody can create a piece of content that goes viral.

14. It only takes one post to go viral

And to follow-up on that point, you only need one really good idea to gain traction and your website will see an avalanche of visitors.
Now, don’t get us wrong, it is far from easy to develop a piece of content that goes viral. People can spend a lot time and money trying to chase that one piece that absolutely explodes.

The trick is to put out consistently high-quality work, each and every day, and one of them will eventually get the recognition it deserves.

15. The ads are cheaper

When we say cheaper, we don’t mean cheap cheap. And the costs can accumulate very quickly, if you’re not careful.

But when compared to some of the costs you’d need to invest in Google Ads, the savings are significant. Ads costing 10 or 11 times less than what you’d expect to pay on Google (thought the traffic may be slightly lower in quality) is a compelling argument for giving them a try.

16. You’ll be able to reach a wider audience

The ability to acquire potential customers grows exponentially with the time you spend on social media.

You start by setting-up a Facebook page, for example. You invite friends and family to ‘like’ the page. As your numbers grow, more and more people are exposed to your page and they ‘like’ it too. They recommend it to their friends and family, and some of those also give you a ‘like’.

Then, while you’re doing some research, you find other pages that are similar to yours. You ‘like’ them and a link to even more potential customers is created.

You begin to contribute to the various online communities you’ve found on Facebook and people begin to recognise your name, your brand and your popularity grows and grows.

Suddenly (well, after a few months, probably) you have access to customers you didn’t even know existed and would never have found through any of your previously existing marketing efforts. All from one little page on Facebook (and that’s without any of the other social media platforms that’ll offer you a similar opportunity for growth).

17. You’ll gain improved customer insights

The comments sections of social media are a goldmine of user insights.

If you are able to build a strong and trusting community, your customers will share all kinds of valuable information regarding ways you can improve your product or service, things they like about your company, things this dislike about your customer service etc. etc.

In addition to that, you can filter your shared content to investigate what topics are the most popular and focus your efforts on creating more content that is likely to be valued by your readers. You can also measure conversions of promotions you implement at different times, in different ways and across different platforms to determine your most profitable return on investment (ROI).

18. Diversify across several platforms

As we stated at the very beginning, there are certain platforms that we feel lend themselves to social media marketing better than others. But that is not to say that that assertion is universal.

Some companies may find that Snapchat is actually the most popular platform among their customers (especially if they have a young customer-base). Or that Reddit, when navigated correctly, provides the most highly-convertible leads as the users are very considered in every click that they make.

The beauty is, all social media accounts are free to set-up. So there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from signing-up to each and every one and experimenting with them all to determine which is the best fit for your company. Using multiple social media platforms is almost always the best approach.

19. Be easily accessible on mobile devices

Most social media is carried out on mobile devices, so the social media platforms are all geared to optimise user-experience on such devices.

If your company’s website is not responsive (i.e. it does not convert well when being used on a mobile device) then having a strong social media presence can help you circumnavigate that issue, a little, by piggy-backing the already compatible social media apps (though we would highly recommend your website is made responsive as soon as possible, given the volume of users on handheld devices).

20. Connect with your employees

Creating a community spirit within your workforce is just as important as creating one within your customer-base.

Most companies will have employees who are already active one or more social media platforms, so why not use that to your advantage?

By engaging with your employees over social media – and allowing them to interact with each other too – you will add a cutting-edge dimension to your company that some would normally associate more closely with the tech start-ups of Silicon Valley.

And if an employee is proud of the company they work for, they’ll display company logos and messages all over their social media pages without even being asked. Getting your employees to be voluntary brand ambassadors depicts a strong image about your company and acts, fundamentally, as free advertising for you.

21. The longer you wait to start, the longer you’ll wait to see results

As with anything, if you don’t try it then you just don’t know. Procrastination, fear of the unknown or plain old laziness – whatever the reason you haven’t started yet, all you are doing is delaying the inevitable.

The sooner your company adapts to the changes in marketing that social media has instigated, the sooner you will begin to reap the rewards.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

To recap, we’d like you to try a little exercise.

Firstly, take the number of users for each social media platform that we mentioned at the top of the article. Then add the 21 concrete, irrefutable reasons we listed above and explained in detail.

Once you’ve done that, throw the number away, because it will be completely irrelevant. But after doing so, we do think you’ll struggle to find an excuse for not taking your social media strategy to a new level.

Whether that means you start from scratch. Or you resolve to dedicating a little more time to it every day or every week. Or even if you decide to hire a specialist who’ll help you formulate and implement a strategy, we’re sure you won’t regret being a bit less anti-social.

Are there any other reasons you know that make social media so important to your business that we missed?

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