In just over a decade, social media has completely and forever altered the way we communicate, acquire news and information, make purchasing decisions, and interact with our world at large. Likewise, it has changed the way in which brands market themselves and conduct business.
Some smaller brands and businesses still don't see the value in investing in their social media presence or spending money on social media advertising. They also still don't see their overall marketing strategy as a cohesive sum of multiple synergistic parts. The truth is, social media can no longer be viewed as a novel accessory. It must be embraced as an essential component of an integrated digital marketing strategy.
Ignoring social media as a marketing channel is more than a missed opportunity. By neglecting to be active and engaged on your practice's social media channels, you not only stand to miss out on reaching new audiences, but you run the risk of damaging your relationship with current prospects and clients. People have come to expect a certain degree of visibility and interaction with businesses on social media channels. When a company is disengaged from its social channels, people will notice, and they may move on to your competitors.
1. Social Media Is Where Many People Spend Lots of Time
There was a time when social media was its own entity. A place where you could go on the Internet, essentially an enhanced website with a unique set of features to connect with people you know. These days, social media is completely inextricable from the online landscape, and practically every single person you have ever known in your life is reachable with a single click of a button.
Have a look at some of these amazing social media statistics:
- Social media users now account for two-thirds of all global internet users (1)
- There are 2.3 billion active users on social media platforms – that’s 31% of the entire world’s population (2)
- 72% of all online US adults visit Facebook at least once per month (3)
- The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day, accounting for 28% of the total time spent on the internet (4)
This effect will only increase with time. The Millennial generation uses social media extensively, and teenagers in Gen-Z use it for a mind-boggling 9 hours a day! (5) Mobile devices and the mentality of being constantly connected serves to further enhance this trend. Social media has become interwoven in the fabric of our lives – it's no longer simply a way we communicate, it's is becoming the way we communicate.
2. Increase Brand Visibility and Authority
It is important to keep in mind that each of your social media profiles is in essence an extension of your brand and website. When you maintain complete, attractive profiles that are regularly monitored and updated, you not only increase the chances that someone will find you, but you show people that you are an active and engaged brand that is worthy of their time and focus (and money).
From a purely visual standpoint, social media reinforces brand recognition and a consistent brand image across the Web. Furthermore, proper social media management ensures a consistent brand voice and a perceivable culture at your practice. The look/feel of your profiles, the content you create and publish on social media, and how you respond to and interact with people can all influence your online persona.
The more time you dedicate to crafting your online persona and developing a social media content strategy that is in line with your audience’s needs and expectations on any given platform, the more likely they will be to see your brand as fun, interesting, and trustworthy (or positioned to achieve your other social goals). Unfortunately, this works both ways – if you have a rocky past or a slew of bad reviews, they will be readily apparent on your profiles and people will not hesitate to shame or denigrate your business if you continue to conduct bad business.
These days, a brand’s social media profiles are likely to show up as high in search rankings as the website itself. This both reinforces the idea that you should reinforce your marketing efforts as many small parts of a much greater whole, and that you must be prepared to be active on your social media profiles as more people discover and potentially attempt to contact you. Similarly, if you are active and engaged on your social media channels, you can easily claim more real estate in search engine results.
3. Social Media as a Customer Service Outlet
There are few more universally relatable frustrations than having to sit on hold on a customer service line. And when you finally do get a hold of someone, communication breakdown is often a common reality.
While Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey probably did not intend to create customer service channels per se, people are nevertheless treating social channels as such. And make no mistake, it has absolutely become an excellent customer service channel by very definition, and people are taking full advantage of it.
- On Twitter, 77% of users who receive a reply from a brand feel more positively towards that brand (6)
- Customers have high expectations for a quick response:
- 53% of people expect a response to a question on Twitter to come within an hour.
- For complaints, people are even less patient: 78% expect an answer within an hour. (7)
- 82% of customers are likely to stop spending money with a company as a result of a negative customer experience (8)
There’s more to the story than just keeping up with customer inquiries and complaints, however. Many brands have taken advantage of the highly transparent and rapid-response nature of social media to not only meet the needs and expectations of online users, but to greatly exceed them.
Brands that do this right have the power to be broadcasted across the Web as customer service champions. We’ve all heard stories of brands that go above and beyond to make someone’s day – take any number of these classic examples.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking only large brands can do this. Even if millions of people don’t actually witness it first-hand, word will get around. If you take care of each individual who comes in contact with your business, they most certainly will tell their friends and family about the great experience they had.
On the flip side, when you ignore people who are attempting to contact you or engage with your brand on social, you run the risk of upsetting that person, who will undoubtedly tell their friends and family of the poor experience they had with you. Or even worse, they may find it fit to embark on a personal vendetta to smear your name across the Web!
4. Drive More Qualified Traffic to Your Website
Social media is a tremendous driver of website traffic. In fact, Facebook alone drives 40% of all referral traffic for online content and media, which is even more than Google. (10)
In many ways, social media sites have become akin to search engines themselves. People use these platforms to look up businesses, discover content and entertainment, read the news, and even seek out and purchase products and services, presenting a great opportunity for brands to be the ones that they find. This can be achieved organically, but even more so with targeted advertising campaigns.
Social media advertising (namely Facebook advertising) has several advantages over other forms of advertising. You can very easily and quickly get a campaign going, even on a small budget. Overall, the costs of advertising on Facebook are dramatically lower than most other advertising channels. The potential ROI of Facebook advertising versus other channels is very notable – Facebook ads continue to be very affordable. (11)
The targeting options on social advertising platforms, specifically Facebook, are incredibly advanced. The level of granularity in your ad targeting is astonishing. Additionally, there are many options as to when and where your ads will be displayed, and how you are charged for them. With Facebook’s ad management tools, refining and optimizing your campaigns over time is simple.
Facebook has a number of different ad types that are pre-tailored to accomplish different marketing and sales goals. Whether you want to build brand awareness, promote and drive traffic to specific pages of your website, target specific people interested in certain practice areas, or build awareness for an event, there is likely an ad type for that.
Taking full advantage of social media technologies such as tracking pixels unlocks an entire new world of insights about your site visitors and which parts of your website and content they are most interested in. The tracking pixel also allows you to create remarketing campaigns and highly advanced social advertising funnels.
Advertising on Facebook and other social media channels allows you to reach people in a manner that is more consistent with their existing behaviors and desires. These are inherently visual platforms, and a well-designed ad creative has the potential to seamlessly integrate itself and help bypass the “ad blinders” that many of us have developed. To refer back to a classic marketing expression, when the right people see the right ad message at the right time, they will likely forget that they are being advertised to at all.
5. Social Media Boosts Search Engine Rankings
Google’s ranking algorithm has becoming incredibly sophisticated over the years. It's difficult to say exactly how social shares play into overall SERP rankings, but it is clear that when more people are seeing and sharing your content and visiting your site, Google and other search engines will view that favorably.
Whenever someone shares or engages with your content on social media, it is essentially as if they are “casting their vote” that your content is worthy.
Links to your content on social media networks help the search engines understand which websites are credible and should be ranked for specific keyword phrases. (12) Overall, while it is difficult to say exactly to what extent social signals impact search engine rankings, we know that they do. And the more you invest in social, and the more your fans and followers grow, the more likely you are to be seen by a wider range and larger number of people.
Google, Facebook, and the other major social media platforms are competitors, so data on one platform isn't freely or willingly transferable between them. This is another major factor that influences the search engine ranking potential of social pages, profiles, and content. For obvious reasons, Facebook isn't about to hand over all its data to its single biggest competitor. It's probably also safe to say that the ways and extent to which social signals influence search rankings is ever-evolving, as with most things in the Internet landscape.
6. An Avenue for Recycling and Reusing Your Content
These days, most businesses have websites and likewise invest a lot of time, energy, and money into creating content such as blogs, videos, visuals, etc. to live on the site. Otherwise, your website would just be blank.
A strong content strategy is the backbone of your overall digital marketing efforts. It’s what draws people to your site and keeps them there – it shows people that you are a reputable brand that is able and willing to help, and ultimately worth their time, focus, and money.
More than that, however, creating content is important for SEO, as it shows Google and other search engines that your website is active and worth showing to people when they search for queries that are relevant to your practice areas.
Most social media platforms have analytics tools that not only provide key insights into your audience, but help identify which types and specific pieces of content resonate the most with them. Facebook Insights, for example, provides an incredible wealth of information about how people are interacting with every single item you post or publish. Moreover, you can then amplify the content that performs the best right then and there.
When you take advantage of a social media scheduling service, you can easily choose dates and times to post and re-post your content, driving more traffic to your site than you would if you had just posted the one time. Social media channels provide an ever-lasting backdrop to publish your content and take part in online conversations relevant to your practice.
7. The Opportunity to Connect with Your Audience in Ways Never Imagined
At the end of the day, it's all about engagement – forging genuine connections with real people. Social media unlocks the ability to do this in the most efficient and effective means possible. Just think for one moment about how incredible it is that we can connect with any person or business in the entire world with a single click of a button! The continued focus on mobile technology and optimization for mobile devices magnifies this effect.
Brands that ignore social media are missing countless opportunities to expand their audience and drive business, and may be driving away people attempting to reach out to them online. They are not utilizing a very affordable and reliable means of driving more traffic and prospects to their website. They are failing to maximize the lifespan of their content, and they are diminishing their potential to increase search engine rankings for various keywords. The message is clear: Failing to take full advantage of social media as an integrated component of your overall marketing strategy may be harming your business!