Social media’s impact on business
Social media has been around for a long time with the first blogging sites coming into existence in 1999. After that, social media burst into fresh life with the launch of sites like MySpace, Flickr and LinkedIn in the early 2000s. YouTube launched in 2005, offering a new way for people to communicate. In 2006, Facebook and Twitter exploded onto the scene, changing forever the means by which people exchange and share information.
But let’s take a look at some numbers to fully grasp the enormity of social media. Here is a breakdown of digital impact according to Hootsuite:
- Of a total population of 7.6 billion people:
- Over 4.3 billion people use the internet
- Over 3.4 billion people are active social media users
- Over 5.1 billion people are unique mobile users
- Over 3.2 billion people are active mobile social users
- And in America, 78% of adults use social media
Given these numbers, any business not to involve itself with a social media strategy is surely missing out on easily and inexpensively reaching half the world’s population.
How can I use social media to promote my business?
Silence on social media is not an option for any small business wanting to thrive in today’s digital age. The good thing is, it’s relatively simple and cheap to start using your online presence to promote your company.
Start with a social media strategy
Make sure all your social media strategy efforts support what you’re trying to achieve as a business.
- What do you want to say and to whom?
- What is your competition saying?
- Create a calendar for your posts and stick to the 80/20 rule: use 80% of your posts to entertain, educate or converse with your audience and the remaining 20% to talk about your brand or product
Choose which platforms are right for you
There are lots to choose from – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn – and we’ll come to those in more detail in a while.
Start posting before you seek followers and customers
Think about what your customers want to hear from you. Maybe provide some information about your industry, or your town if you’re a local business seeking local customers. Post pictures of your business, products and brand. If you’ve got any video, think about uploading it to YouTube, with links to your other social media platforms. And do ‘like’ and ‘favorite’ other YouTube videos, as your followers will be able to see these on your page.
Engage, engage, engage!
Social media management is all about building relationships, not an information push. Every time you post, it’s an opportunity to have a conversation with a customer.
Ask questions on your customers’ posts. Like their comments and repost where appropriate.
Stay positive and upbeat. No-one likes a glum brand.
Keep your audience informed about updates with your business
Vary the content in your calendar to keep your followers interested. If you launch a new line, open a new office, welcome new staff or get a dog – post about it!
Make time for social media management
Think of your social platforms in the same way you would consider any sales funnel. Make time every day to respond to comments and share new posts.
Social media platforms
There are so many platforms to choose from, it’s quite mind-boggling. Let’s run a few numbers to position what kind of usage there is in the US:
Facebook: 205 million unique monthly users
Nearly 70% of adults and 50% of teens in the US use Facebook to share content, read the news, shop and catch up with friends. Around 75% of users visit the site at least once a day.
Twitter: 110 million unique monthly users
22% of Americans say they use Twitter, predominantly for news. Users skew younger, wealthier and better educated than other US adults overall.
LinkedIn: 154 million Americans have profiles
50% of college graduates use LinkedIn, 3 million jobs are posted every month and 30 million companies have profile pages
Pinterest: 87 million unique monthly users
90% of weekly users utilize Pinterest to make purchase decisions and 98% of users try the ideas they find on Pinterest. Pinterest added more American users between 2017-18 than Facebook and Twitter combined.
A free tool that helps customers find your business, Google My Business offers your company better search visibility (the top panel on page 1 of a Google search) and displays useful information that you can manage. According to Google, 50% of all mobile consumers that search for a local business tend to visit it too, with 18% converting to purchase.