“We tried social media once, but it didn’t really work for us. We didn’t get any customers from it.”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say this, I could retire from telling people that social media is beneficial for their business. As it is, I’m still happily employed, so I’m here now telling you that social media is not negotiable–your business needs to have a presence on social platforms, whether or not they appear to be doing anything substantial for your bottom line.
I’m going to level with you. Not everyone thinks you need your business on social media (though I would personally say they’re wrong). Some businesses have broken up with Facebook in the past, for instance, citing a laundry list of reasons. Some specialists point out that since some big brands like Coca-Cola and Starbucks don’t seem to have a consistent Facebook presence (false: they do have a regular Facebook presence,) then you shouldn’t have to, either. Except I’m willing to bet that you don’t have 96 million followers…or even 36 million. When you have millions of followers and are a brand known the world over, you may get a bit of leeway in your social media strategy. When you’re a small or even mid-sized business trying to increase your brand awareness and drive leads to turn into customers, you need to be on social media, period.
A disclaimer: Not every platform is for every business. For instance, Coca-Cola and Starbucks may not post to Facebook multiple times a day, but their social media crew is working overtime to respond to people on Twitter. Likewise, the audience you want to reach may not be on Snapchat, but they could be on LinkedIn. It’s up to you and your digital agency or marketing consultant to figure out what platform your audience is using most often.
If you’re skeptical, if you think that social media is a fad or that it doesn’t make that much of a difference, if you think that it’s not even remotely critical for your business to be involved on, then this blog is for you. Here is the first list of things you need to know about social media, and about why it needs to be mandatory for your business:
- Social media is a top of funnel activity. Though the Marketing Funnel is quickly morphing into more of a cyclical journey of sorts, the same principles still apply. The top of the funnel is where you start to talk about your business so that people know who you are. Everyone who has never heard of you is outside the funnel–once they’ve seen your business name through marketing efforts, word of mouth, or by driving by, they enter the funnel. The goal is, of course, to drive them further down into the funnel so that they eventually become customers, but that turnaround is not always a fast one. Social media is meant to be that whisper into your audience’s ear. “Have you ever heard of us?” your Instagram feed asks. “We’re kind of a big deal.” After all, they can’t buy from you if they don’t know who you are.
Social media gives your current customers a platform to sing your praises. When customers check into your store on Facebook, or tweet about the amazing auto service you provide, or post pictures of your menu on Instagram, they’re doing your marketing for you. For free. Because then their friends see that check-in, their followers read that tweet, and their followers drool over that entree photo. Because you had the platform available to use, you’ve reached an entirely new audience that you may not have reached before–they’ve now entered the funnel and you can work on turning them into customers. Sounds like a pretty great deal, right?
- Social media is what users look at to research your business. Once users become aware of your business, they’ll start checking out your various social media profiles to see what you offer. They’re reading the great content you put out about health and wellness tips. They’re watching the video of your customers using your road bikes. They’re reading the Facebook reviews of your customer service. They’re browsing the photos of the new clothing line you just started selling in-store. And above all, they’re learning about you in a much more intimate way than your website allows: instead of service listings, addresses, and price points, they’re discovering you, the business owner, as a human. They get to see what’s important to you and what you do for your customers in a different way. When potential customers start to learn from you and develop a connection to your brand, they are more likely to move down that funnel and become actual customers.
- Social media is not made for heavy ROI.
The biggest complaint I hear about social media from business owners is that they don’t believe there is any monetary benefit from their involvement on social media. They can’t trace big dollars from Facebook or Twitter…so is it really worth it? In a word, yes. Social media pages can be great conversion tools–understand this. But that’s not their primary purpose. Their primary purpose is to connect customers and potential customers with your brand, with brands they love, with new brands they didn’t previously know about. Yes, call-to-action buttons can make conversions. Yes, links in your profiles can drive people toward buying decisions. But again, we have to think about social media as an awareness builder–a top of funnel activity. Social media is the long marketing game: like any good business owner, you know that sometimes, the dollars you invest today aren’t going to come back to you for a good long while. When you are investing in brand awareness and audience building, you are making a long-term investment. So no, you are likely not going to see real return on that investment in 30, 60, 90 days…sometimes not even 6 months, if there is strategy redefinition involved. You are investing in a vehicle to let people know who you are. And believe me, it’s a better, more dynamic, more engaging, and more forgiving vehicle than a billboard on East Colfax Avenue.
In short, unless your business is already a household name, you should be using every possible digital medium available to you to put your brand on the lips of potential and existing customers. Yes, social media requires a time investment. To do it right, it also requires a cost and resource investment to make sure that you’re hitting your audience sweet spot. But remember–platforms like Facebook can create immediate customers for you, but should be used more than anything to connect with current and potential customers to show them why your brand is the one they should spend their dollars on.
If you know your business social media strategy needs some work to make it the best it can be, or if you’re unsure about where to start on social media, let us know! We are happy to help our clients maximize their local digital presence and drive customers to their front door!