The growth of social media marketing
As a small business, operating on a tight budget can be very common. Social media is one of the marketing channels that allow small businesses to operate in a cost-effective method whilst yielding strong, progressive results. As a result, social media marketing has grown at a
significant rate in the past 10 years with more businesses utilising these platforms every year. Worldwide digital ad spend worldwide by the end of 2021 had reached a whopping $455 billion US dollars, and its still growing at an impressive rate.
Why is it important for your business?
It’s clear that digital marketing accounts for a substantial amount of the world’s global ad spend which reflects the importance of this type of marketing. However, what does this actually mean for your business and why is it important?
Developing a presence on social media offers another location for your target audience to find out about you. As you begin to attract more people towards your social media
page, you can then start to educate them about your product or service. You can
also start driving more traffic towards your website to educate them more and
convert them to a valuable customer. Driving traffic towards your website or
landing page should always be your end goal to help you generate more revenue
and keep your business moving forward.
Cross-selling and up-selling are vital components in growing your business, it is one of the most important factors for increasing revenue. Social media allows you to
execute these perfectly. Once a customer has interacted with you once, you can
use all the data that social media holds to begin re-targeting these customers
to promote more of your products and services to them with the aim of
Social media is one of the most cost-effective methods for marketing your business and it is also one of the most useful tools for analysing return on investment. It is
free to start a business page on social media and begin marketing, however,
there are some costs involved. Social media marketing will start to consume a
lot of your time as you start to grow your presence. Monitoring, listening and
engaging in social conversation will increase and you will need to increase the
amount of time you dedicate to doing these activities. This is an important
point to consider because time is your most valuable asset. You may have the
time available to manage social media or you may need to outsource this work so that you can focus on developing the core aspects of your business.
The Risks of not using Social Media
Quite a number of businesses have created and regularly review a risk register – it’s a great tool to understand the main risks that exist which could affect your business, how serious the risk is and the severity of the impact on the business. But how many of us have considered the direct consequence of not engaging in a structured digital media strategy and the effect of that on the business?
In today's world, digital marketing is critical for success in business. Those that adopted the changing landscape early on have made fantastic strides in both their delivery but also the understanding of how to effectively manage their digital marketing, and usually, this is getting the realisation that an external team can have much more impact than a business owner.
Typically, a lot of small businesses don’t engage with digital marketing for a number of reasons such as they believe they can’t afford it, they haven’t got the resources, they haven’t got the time and they haven’t got the skills or knowledge to generate the outcome they are looking for.
While that statement is a general statement, it does make us ask the question – what are these businesses losing out on? What is the risk to businesses that don’t have a strong presence on digital marketing platforms?
Let’s have a quick look at 4 key areas of risk that businesses may be missing:
You risk being out of the loop. Digital media, across all platforms, is a key channel for consumers collecting information and connecting with other consumers. It is also a great opportunity for companies to engage with current customers, as well as potential customers, all over the world. By not using digital marketing as a business tool, you run the risk of losing customers, credibility, and crucial information that can benefit your business. Even if you choose not to actively participate in discussions, you need to be aware and stay informed regarding conversations about your company. Don’t stick your head in the ground and hope for social media to “blow on by.”
You can’t respond to negative comments about your business. When customers are not satisfied with your product or service, one of the first things many will do is complain on Twitter or Facebook, or they will write a bad review online. If you are not actively keeping tabs on these discussions and reviews, they can hurt your reputation and cost you potential business. How can you protect your brand if you don’t know what’s being said about it online?
Social media is now, arguably, the default platform for customer service. Instead of calling you to complain on a personal level, consumers want to send businesses a tweet or post something on a Facebook page. More and more sites are becoming mainstream, that allows customers the chance to review your product or service – so it is critical you’re aware of all comments around your organisation.
However, if customers have a relationship with your company, they are much less likely to take such actions and will instead send you an email or a private message about the problem. You can use digital marketing to start and define that relationship moving forward.
You risk missing the positive comments about your business. Customers also leave positive feedback online about companies with which they do business. However, if they believe their comments won’t be read by the companies they are praising, satisfied customers are less likely to leave feedback. Additionally, positive comments can drive forward positive digital marketing – I mean, we all want to work with or buy from businesses we know are successful right.
You risk giving your competitors an unfair advantage. If your competitors are active on social media and you are not, your rivals already have a leg up on winning business from potential customers. Gaining customers is difficult enough using traditional methods (which also can take a considerable amount of time and money, with limited success), but to knowingly offer your competitors an advantage can perhaps be the difference between in business and not?
Furthermore, if you don’t allow for comparisons and can’t answer questions in real-time, you perhaps run the risk of customers disengaging from your business due to a lack of perceived response. A recent study from SuperOffice found that the average time it took the businesses questioned was 12 hours. Now, that might not seem like an unrealistic time frame, but some organisations were super responsive and managed to return a response within 1 minute!
Unless your product or service is overwhelmingly superior, this is one risk you cannot afford to take! We would always encourage our customers to be vigilant to the response times over social media platforms.
Why Small businesses need social media even more-so
It’s common for small businesses to misunderstand the importance of social media when it comes to growing their business. Many don’t use it at all and some find it challenging to apply.
One of the most important aspects of social media is the power it gives you to take your business digital. Platforms such as Facebook now give you the option to add products and services to your page so that you can sell directly through the platform. Facebook also lets you make appointments and bookings via a calendar system so there is something for everyone to benefit from as a small business.
This feature has become more important in recent months with the pandemic that has shaken the business world. Having a system in place that allows you to do business with customers online is a must and you will only benefit from more business further down the line. Even when taking a look into the future, it is clear to see that consumer behaviours are changing and more people will continue to shop online once the pandemic has passed.
Social media also makes it easy to connect your website with the platforms that are available to you. For this reason, social media should not be considered as “just another marketing channel”. Instead, you should be looking at it as part of your customer’s journey and user experience. The available platforms have become advanced to a point where it is easy to automate your customer’s experience and deliver them to a high standard.
Connect with customers locally, nationally and globally
As mentioned in the previous section, social media is a great route to taking your business digital. The main benefit of going digital is also going global. Once your business is online and running digitally, you can begin serving your customers on a local, national and global scale. This also means that your customers can find you from anywhere in the world and interact with you at any time.
There is a concept known as the ‘shrinking world effect’ which explains how technology has impacted the world we live in. The idea is that technology such as social media is making it much easier to communicate with people and businesses across the world. Social media has now made it possible to interact, engage and purchase from our favourite global brands by simply using our smartphone.
If you are looking to take your business national or global, then social media is a good place to start. It will provide you with the infrastructure and data needed to access these markets and it will help you to boost your exposure.
Facebook now has over 2 billion active users on its platform. This means they have access to an incredible source of data, helping them to understand each individual’s interests and behaviours. Through Facebook paid advertising, we can use this data to hyper-target our ideal target audience. For example, if you are a business that sells cat toys you could target people who have an interest in cats and are part of the most popular cat group on Facebook. Doing this will allow you to put your message in front of the audience that is most likely to be your customer.
This is good for your business because you won’t be wasting money displaying a message to people who have no interest in your product/service.
Social media platforms such as Twitter are fantastic for providing answers to your customers and solving their problems. Twitter is best used as a way to solve your customer’s problems rather than looking to monetise the channel. You might notice that a lot of the big brands and organisations will have a dedicated Twitter page for customer service issues. This is because the platform is set up in a way that makes it very easy for a user to address their issue publicly by tagging the company in their posts. As a business, you need to carry out ‘social listening’ to make sure you know what your customers are talking about. If they have tweeted about an issue, then addressing this publicly could benefit you as well as the customer. For example, the customer will receive an answer to their problem helping to build the relationship with that individual and other potential customers will be able to see how friendly and effectively you deal with customer issues, helping to build your reputation.
How Businesses use social media for marketing
There are now over 3 billion users across the globe using social media (Statista). With over 50% of the world’s population using these platforms, it’s no surprise to see more businesses using social media as a way to connect with their audience.
In 2022, you’re probably aware of this potential, so in this guide, we want to inform you on how businesses should be using the platforms to get the best return on investment.
Why are businesses using social media?
Social media isn’t all about engaging with as many people as possible and gaining millions of new customers. Yes, these are all great but there are multiple objectives that you should be setting yourself to focus your social media marketing efforts.
Here are a few examples of social media objectives which will inform you on how you should be using social media:
· Reach / Exposure
These core principles highlight the reasons why businesses are using social media in 2020.
Not all of these objectives can be assigned a monetary value so it is hard to measure the return on investment for your business. However, if we take something like sentiment, we understand that this can have a positive impact on the way your audience/customers feel which can have a direct impact on the choices they make. If you are unsure on how you can measure relativity and sentiment, it’s simple. You want to keep an eye on the way people react to your posts. Are they liking your post? Are they loving your post? Are they angry with your post? These reactions tell you if the content in the post is relevant to the audience and if it is having a positive impact on their life. A positive reaction is great because it can tell you how good your content is and how relative it is to the audience.
Is social media right for your business?
Many people will say that social media isn’t the right choice for their business, specifically those operating in B2B. Now, social media can work for any business, but you need to be selective with your platforms. For example, if you are operating in B2B, you want to focus your attention on LinkedIn. Don’t waste resource on a platform like Instagram if your audience isn’t hanging out on that platform. Double down on your strengths!
There is also the argument that businesses operating in B2B can utilise Facebook as part of their social media marketing strategy. This is down to the fact that Facebook has over 2 billion users worldwide. You are bound to find your audience within 2 billion people, but it could be more challenging. The only way you will know if this works for you is by testing.
With regards to B2C businesses, there are a wide variety of platforms to select from. To get you started, think about your ideal customer and the type of business you are. If you are an artist wanting to showcase your work, then you need to select a visual platform like Instagram or Pinterest. All B2C businesses should be using Facebook due to the power it offers and the user base it possesses. Once again, you can only know if the platform is right for you through testing.
The main point to note is that you should never chase all social media platforms. Be very selective and focus all your energy into building an amazing community.
How much will it cost you?
Calculating the cost of running social media marketing is extremely variable. First of all, you need to decide if you are going to be using paid promotion. If you are using paid promotion (which is recommended) you can set yourself a monthly budget so that it is easy for you to forecast. With regards to daily posting and organic (non-paid) social media you need to factor in time and the labour cost. Social media is a very time-consuming gig, so you need to very clear if you can afford to do this yourself or whether you need to bring someone in to support.
You also need to factor in all the in-direct costs. This can include the software packages you are paying for to create content for social media.
Ultimately, the cost of social media marketing comes down to how much you are willing to invest. However, there will be a minimum investment of both time and money that is required for you to be successful on these social media platforms so you need to know if this is a marketing approach you can afford.
Which Social Media should you be using?
Social media has quickly become one of the most cost-effective methods for marketing. The marketing features available on social media allow you to carry out marketing campaigns in a way that you may never have done before. This is because social media tracks all the activity on your business page, and you can use this data to fine tune your campaigns and achieve greater results. Remember, businesses grow from data so it’s vital that you’re extracting this data and monitoring it continuously to improve future campaigns.
Utilising Facebook Paid Ads
With roughly 2.85 billion monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2021, Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide. Having the most users of all the social media platforms, with nearly a quarter of the entire world on it, Facebook should be your given number one platform to grow your business on. However, this isn't the only reason. Facebook has a fantastic integrated shop for business pages, where you can showcase your products, list off all contact information a customer might need, can provide directions on maps, and easily post content and media, or update followers on current matters.
One of the main attractions to social media marketing is Facebook adverts. Creating a paid advert on Facebook can allow any business to meet their objectives.
Objectives you can meet through Facebook ads:
Increase brand awareness
Receive more video views
With such a wide range of objectives available, Facebook ads are the most universal form of marketing when it comes to social media. There are also more than 3 billion users on Facebook, so you are likely to find your target audience on Facebook. In addition to this, Facebook also has a huge amount of data available because of their large user base.
Can I access data and is this important for me?
Yes, you can access this data and it is the most valuable asset for your marketing activities.
The audience insights tool on Facebook will allow you to find people within your target audience who might find value in your ad and would therefore interact with your ad.
Taking an alternative approach through LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a platform that could add a lot of value to your marketing efforts, however, it may not be the right platform for your business. LinkedIn is a perfect platform for any B2B business. The tonality and messages on LinkedIn are professional so you must take a lot of care when creating content as it will differ from Facebook quite a lot. The audience on LinkedIn are often searching for content that will add value to their business or career.
What is the best approach to take on LinkedIn? Creating blogs and video tutorials is a very effective approach to take on LinkedIn because it’s engaging content that will add a lot of value to your audience.
Use blogs to share insights into your industry and your business, as well as, providing tips and tricks that will help your audience. Rich content like this will keep your audience coming back for more every week. The bonus of sharing blogs on LinkedIn is that you can start generating more traffic towards your website and this is the ultimate end goal for your social media efforts.
Microblogging to the masses on Twitter
Twitter has roughly 350 million monthly users, making it the third largest media platform. It is a very successful way of creating good public relations, as many officials and important people can be recognised with their 'verified' symbol, knowing which accounts can be trusted to provide official information. Having a corporation set up through twitter to interact with customers is very much the norm these days, but this can also be used for business to business communications. However, ignoring advertisements (which can actually be 1-3% more effective than Facebooks adverts), there isn't many features to adapt your account to be a business page.
Once again, the style of marketing on Twitter changes from Facebook and LinkedIn. Pushing out promotional material that focuses on selling will not gain any real traction for your business. Twitter is a microblogging site and people want to use this platform to find out interesting updates and insights. Start pushing out content that provides your audience with live updates on your business and takes them behind the scenes. This type of content fits the style of Twitter and adds an element of exclusivity for your audience. With this element of exclusivity, you will start to build a larger following in no time!