By now, a majority of small business owners know that social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn—are important for reaching prospects, customers and business partners. However, that still doesn’t make it easy to block out the time for creating and executing a social media strategy, especially in businesses that don’t have a dedicated employee to manage these channels. So if you need a reminder of why social media needs to be one of your priorities, here are some of its most important benefits:
- Increased brand recognition: Social media helps boost your business’ visibility with both current customers and potential prospects, and gives you a direct way to share your brand’s voice and content with them. Today’s customer expects a business to be highly accessible and easily recognizable online. When they search for a business or product and don’t find information from your business, they’re going to assume you don’t have it and move on. When they do find you, it can have a ripple effect. The referral marketing platform Ambassador found that 71 percent of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Increased brand recognition can help you generate more prospects and convert them into paying customers.
- Improved customer service: Many of today’s consumers flock to social media to seek assistance, ask questions or provide feedback to a brand’s customer service team. Your business will miss those conversations—and a chance to prevent bigger problems—if you’re not on social media. If you’re running short on something that has been in high demand among your customers, let them know that you’re working on getting more of that inventory. If you solved a problem for one customer, let the rest of your followers know about the solution before their problem develops. Social media is not only about managing bad news, however. When a customer posts their positive experience with your company, you can share it as a testimonial to all of your followers, and explain how others can benefit from your business.
- Lower traditional marketing costs: It doesn’t take long for most new small businesses to see how expensive traditional marketing—print or digital ads, postcard mailers and the like—can be. Those tools can still be important for your business, but you can use lower-cost social media to stretch your marketing budget substantially, while reinforcing connections to your best customers and helping them to spread the word to their social media followers. Having your best customer post to their Facebook account about the great service they received from your business can be more powerful than placing an ad to tout your service. While you may not be able to afford sending out 10 rounds of postcard mailers each week, you can post multiple times each day on social media, which is free.
- Boost your search engine rankings: SEO is something that often gets forgotten in conversations about the benefits of social media. Many search engines, such as Google, consider a company’s social media presence as a factor in determining where that business will rank on a search results page. You want to be able to show growth in real followers and in social media sharing among those followers. When writing your business’ social media posts, consider ways that you can help your followers to spread your message—such as offering a free dessert to the first person who posts a photo of your new lunch special. On social media, a little love can go a long way.