Social media. Social media. SOCIAL MEDIA. That’s all you, as the business owner, seem to hear nowadays. What, pray tell, is all of the hoopla about this ‘social media’ thing? I can totally understand why you feel that way. But don’t be so quick to write it off and roll your eyes. Social media is a multi-billion dollar industry and quickly becoming the best way to reach new customers.
Let’s first pour the concrete foundation to get a working definition of what social media is. Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines social media as “forms of electronic communication (such as Web sites) through which people create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, etc.” We’ve already discussed why you need a website, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes of three of the most popular social media services – Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (there’s a fourth that I’ll discuss at the end of this message).
Twitter, which was founded circa 2006, is a microblogging social media service which allows you to send 140 character messages to whomever chooses to follow you. You’ll also see tweets posted on some major news networks to give you an indication of their popularity. Businesses use it to focus on attracting as many followers as possible to inform them of sales and other activities they have.
Facebook is more geared towards keeping in touch with family and friends, but don’t be too quick to discount its usefulness in the business world. According to one December 2015 Forbes online article, over 50 million businesses have Facebook pages with 2.5 billion new comments posted every month. And with Facebook Live becoming more popular, the Facebook functionalities that small businesses can use to market is becoming more versatile.
As a small business owner, if you haven’t taken advantage of online video marketing, then you’d better consider it! YouTube is a Google-owned social media website which business owners can use to share video content about their companies to educate current and potential clients. Marketing expert Susan Tucker found a few years ago that 48 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE. How many hours of that 48 is your content?
Ok – still not convinced that social media can help your business? Well, if you insist – here are 4 hard and fast reasons why you need to invest in a comprehensive social media marketing strategy TODAY:
1. It’s free (basically)
It literally costs you absolutely NOTHING to create social media profile. The upgrades (e.g., buying advertising on Facebook) is an additional cost, but to make an initial impact in the market to educate the world about your company’s goods and services costs a cool zero dollars.
2. It’s quicker to update than your website
Although your website is the center hub of your marketing strategy with the social media services as the spokes, let’s face it – getting a hold of your webmaster to update your website is simply not as fast as changing content on your Facebook account. In this economy, speed to market is key.
3. There are a few potential clients using it
Remember the ‘over 3 billion users’ statistic for the internet we mentioned from last week? Well, Statista.com has Q2 of 2016 listing 313 million active Twitter users worldwide. It also reports one billion people using Google and as of April 2016, Adweek.com has Facebook at a hair under 1.6 billion users. Like I said - there’s a few people using social media.
4. Ahhh, the competitor issue again
Don’t kid yourself - your competitors are clamoring to get active on social media to take advantage of the numbers. While you’re not quite buying into the ‘hype’ of social media, your competitors are busy doing active social media marketing to target the 400,000 people in the city who may need the goods or services that you both provide. If you miss the ‘social media train,’ those 400,000 people may be buying those goods and services from your competitors and not you.
By no means are the above 3 sites the only ones that you can use to market your business for more exposure, customers and profits. I haven’t even dived into Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Periscope. Don’t be intimidated, though – there are companies that specialize in handling all your social media under one roof if you’re not that savvy online.
Oh, one more thing - remember I said that there was a fourth social media service that I would discuss at the end of this article? If you’re a business owner or a business development professional and you don’t have a formidable LinkedIn presence, you’re really not ready for big profits and profitable strategic alliances. More on that next week!