How can social media benefit my business?
This is a common question asked by business owners. It’s very easy to look at platforms like Facebook and Twitter and dismiss them as toys for teenagers. But this would be ignoring one of the most significant changes in communications since the introduction of the telephone.
You want proof? Consider this:
- One of every six minutes spent online is on social media platforms.
- Facebook alone has 738 million users
- Ninety-three percent of U.S. Internet users are on Facebook
- The average Facebook user spends close to 20 minutes per day on Facebook.
These are staggering numbers and should make it clear why these platforms cannot be ignored. But the question remains, how can social media be used to benefit a business?
Let’s take a look at what social media is about.
Social media is all about creating connections (a.k.a., relationships). Effective use of social media leverages the power of networking. It has been proven that most people on Earth can be reached through six connections (six degrees of separation).
A business that creates a connection with a customer not only reaches that customer, but potentially all of that customer’s social media “friends.” When comments and experiences are shared online through social media platforms they can reach an incredible number of people in a short amount of time.
Businesses are also familiar with advertising through conventional media like newspapers and television. However, in those cases a business’ ad is usually an interruption to the content being sought and is frequently seen as an annoyance.
With social media, the business owns the channel; our potential customers come to us because they have an interest in what we are providing. Last time I checked, running a small newspaper ad daily costs more per month than a very powerful social media campaign, with far less targeted results.
Social media provides a number of key opportunities for a business as well:
- Social media can be a vehicle for customers to provide feedback on the service provided
- A customer community can become a source of inspiration for new products and/or services
- Social media is a fantastic way to let the community know how your business and employees are giving back and making the world a better place
- Social media provides a tremendous test bed to see what kind of offers your customer community responds to, thus focusing your future marketing efforts
When it comes to social media, businesses that are not succeeding with it tend to fall into one of three categories:
- Avoiders: These are the businesses who have yet to see the value of social media. They are not even trying yet. Given the explosive growth of social media, this seems dangerous.
- Stuck: These businesses are trying to use social media but are not getting the results they would like and aren’t making headway. They are in danger of concluding that social media does not work to promote a business.
- Overwhelmed: A business is overwhelmed with social media when they spend so much time and resources trying to keep up with it that it inhibits the business’ ability to function.
What is the solution?
Unless you have the resources to hire, train and manage full-time staff, the only reasonable solution is to work with professional social media managers. These companies are 100 percent focused on providing maximum benefit to their customers and have all of the training, tools and techniques to deliver outstanding results.
Professional social media managers focus on two things: 1) developing an expert social media strategy for their client and 2) consistently executing that strategy.
As a business owner you cannot afford to ignore the tidal wave that is social media
Jerry Peterson is the president of RightSide Inc., which provides Internet, video and mobile marketing services for small and mid-sized businesses. Contact Peterson at (630) 590-9521 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Originally published: Sep 11, 2011