Social media has become deeply ingrained into society; most of us probably check one or more of our social networks daily. One report for GlobalWebIndex in 2018 estimated that, on average, social media users around the globe spend two hours and twenty-two minutes on social media daily.
Since consumers eyes are all over social media, it has also drastically affected businesses and their marketing techniques. Billboards, newspaper ads, and other old forms of marketing sound archaic. Even other forms of online advertising, like paid search and ads on websites, have taken a backseat to social media.
Social media has changed our world and made it easier to connect, which can be both good and bad for businesses. We’ll break down a few ways that social media has changed the ways that business operates.
Before social media emerged, brands could share their brand story and aesthetically minimally. Post-internet, most businesses had websites, but not all customers would see or visit those websites, let alone scroll through page by page. The only way to get your brand out there was through products and services, your brick and mortar business if there was one, and through word of mouth.
Now, branding is everything on social media. Businesses can share more content and get more customers and potential customers to view their content for free through social media. Branding on social media is a huge deal now: most big companies have devoted social media teams in place to put their best foot forward online.
Social proof is vital for businesses. Many consumers and other businesses will check out the social profiles of companies before buying from them or working with them. If a business has a visually unappealing, messy appearance on social media, it can count against them and hurt their business. If your social media is clean, aesthetically pleasing, and makes your brand mission clear, it will help your business grow.
Social media has opened up a world of information for consumers and given them something new to judge a business by. Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy and inquisitive about the businesses they buy from, so social media gives businesses a chance to present themselves and share what their brand is all about.
Social Media Provides Free and Paid Advertising
Ads cost money, but social media is free. You’ll need a good social media strategy and followers first to have anyone view your content on social media, so many companies do have to invest in a social media consultant or a social growth tool. Once you have your content, however, sharing it on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more is free.
In the past, getting ads to reach new consumers online was costly. Now, with a focused social media strategy, it can be free.
In terms of paid advertisements, however, social media has taken over that frontier as well. It’s been reported that Instagram has 2 million monthly advertisers, and Facebook is even more popular for advertising purposes. If you’re knowledgeable in creating and targeting social media ads, you can reach an enormous audience at a relatively low price. Even better, social media is social, and often people will share sponsored ads and posts with friends, furthering their reach.
Social Media allows for Specific Ad Targeting and Remarketing
Not only can you advertise your business both for free and through paid ads, but you can create even more specific and targeted ads. Because of both social media and cookies online, it is easy to retarget potential customers who have visited your website.
If you’ve ever visited a website, clicked on a few items, left, and then saw an ad with those exact items shortly after, you’ve been retargeted. This form of marketing is extremely effective in getting interested customers to return to a website and convert. Cookies make remarketing possible even if you haven’t directly visited a site. Marketers can target people based on their interests, behavior online, search history, and more.
Since marketers have so much more user-specific information at their fingertips, it is possible to create different ad sets targeted directly at those who are most likely to respond to them. Cookies are not only on social media, but social media does allow for more information. Pixels can track when social media users click an ad and see where they end up on the following website, making remarketing even easier and more specific.
Social Media brings more Direct Engagement Between Businesses and Consumers
Before, customers had to call a customer service line, send an email, or visit the actual establishment to reach a business. This process could take time, and it could be difficult to ever get in touch with a business. Now, with social media, it’s easier than ever to have a direct interaction between businesses and their customers.
This can be a double-edged sword for businesses. On one hand, if they provide quick and helpful customer service, their brand will only look better and customers will be happy and likely return in the future. On the other hand, if you don’t respond at all or do a poor job of helping customers online, it will make your business look bad. It’s common on social media to see consumers calling out brands publicly for messing up or providing poor service. This can severely hurt your brand image.
Direct engagement between businesses and consumers is a good thing because it holds the business accountable, but it must be done right. Engaging directly with customers can also make your business feel more human rather than hiding behind a brand logo. The businesses with the most success on social media level with customers, helping them when needed and creating a brand voice that sounds real, not just like sales-y advertisement language.
Engaging directly with customers online is also a great way to see what they like and don’t like. Businesses can post captions with questions about what customers would like to see next, create polls about which products or services they prefer, and much more. You can get direct input from customers through social media, and open up a conversation that will let them feel heard and valued.
Use Social Media to Grow Your Business
If your business isn’t already on social media, it absolutely should start. Creating accounts on almost all social platforms is totally free, and will help you establish your brand, engage with customers, and advertise products and services, either for free through normal posts or through paid advertisements on the platform. Social media isn’t going anywhere, and with billions of people using social networks, it’s vital that your business establish its presence online.