Using social media is one of the growing and essential activities for a business to undertake. Social media is not just about marketing; it can help businesses find and hire talent, manage customer satisfaction and conduct market research.
One of the concerns many businesses have involves choosing the right social networks to join. Every business should ensure that they are on the right networks so they can reach their target audience effectively and reap the benefits.
Find out more about social networks and how your business can grow – read on.
Why Are Social Networks Important?
Social networking is one of the world’s favourite pastimes. The average American spends more than 3 hours a day on their social media profiles. This is not just spent on updating their feeds and communicating with friends and colleagues; social media users spend a significant amount of time searching for and interacting with brands.
This gives brands access not only to a wide audience but a chance to grow their exposure in different ways. Social media can support the search engine optimisation (SEO) of a website as well as the generation of a mailing list. Both organic searching and email marketing contribute to a significant proportion of online sales.
Social media is also used by customers to contact a brand’s customer service team and they expect that a brand will respond to their query within 24 hours. If a brand does not respond, the customer is likely to report this over their social media networks – causing a minor PR problem.
Your business can also find out what your competitors are talking about and what problems your customers are currently experiencing. Using this information, you can create content for your blog, which your target audience is searching for, and gain their attention while also avoiding direct competition with your content.
92% of businesses also use social media in their recruitment process in some capacity. During 2013, around 15% of new employees were found through a social network.
All of these benefits can be gained by a business at a really low cost. Although most social networks have paid advertising options, these are often not essential and therefore the cost can sometimes be virtually zero.
So What Social Networks Should Your Business Be On?
There are many options available for businesses who want to get their presence on social media. The obvious choices would be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. However there is significant competition on these networks and your postings could be hidden by those profiles with higher authority.
Therefore it is best practice for organisations to carefully consider what networks they join outside of the big four. One consideration is that there are a number of networks which are specific for certain industries; such as Houzz for the home improvement industry.
Using one of these industry specific networks can increase your exposure and deliver excellent results.
It is also good practice to limit the number of social networks your business participates in to just five or six. This allows you to focus your efforts and make a larger success of those networks you are involved in.
To decide which networks you want to be a part of, ask yourself a few questions:
- What do you want to achieve from your social networks?
- How much time do you want to contribute to each network?
- What can the social network offer your business?
- Where are your target audience spending time?
The last question is of particular importance. Research has shown that the slightly more mature audience (45 years or older) prefer Google+, while those between 30 and 44 are more likely to spend their time on Twitter.
Your Social Media Game Plan
How you want to use social networks is also important. LinkedIn for example is a good recruitment site, whereas Facebook performs this role poorly. Twitter is good for marketing new content and customer service and Google+ is best for search engine rank and connecting with older generations.
Knowing why you want to use social media can help you identify which networks are best for your business.
The next step is to decide how you are going to use those networks. Each network you are a part of needs to have a different strategy. You should update your Facebook page with a maximum of two or three new updates a day, for instance, whereas your Twitter profile can have six or more daily updates, depending on your audience.
It is also important to know how your audience might interact with your brand. Users on Facebook and Google+ are more likely to engage with conversations connected to a single post. These conversations can happen over a number of hours or days. On Twitter your conversations are likely to take place over several updates and the conversations are likely to happen quickly.
The life of a Tweet can be as short as 10 minutes (unless it is shared by your followers). Facebook updates can last days or week. This can determine how much you need to post and how many times you direct individuals to your new content on the website.
Integrating Social Media Networks With Other Marketing Activities
Social media is typically a bad sales avenue. According to several studies, social media has only contributed to 1% of all online purchases. Despite this, some businesses can obtain significant revenue from their social media activities, though small businesses should look at utilising social media in different ways.
Social media works best when it is part of a larger marketing system. Social media can direct your audience to email sign-up pages and new blog content. This can help you start to build a strong network of contacts, which you can then lead down a more successful sales process.
Social networks are an essential marketing medium, though they are not the sales platform that many businesses expect. Yet with the right networks you can push the exposure of your brand by generating a good mailing list and achieving a better-optimised site for search engines.
- Look at your business and see which 3 networks you should primarily be on.
- Set up profiles and campaigns on those networks and interact with your customers.
- After 2-3 months choose 3 more networks and repeat the process.