Social media is online communication that allows you to interact with your customers and share information in real-time. This can help you to reach your customers better, create online networks and sell and promote your products and services. It can be easy to get carried away when using social media for your business. It’s wise to tread carefully and be aware of both the pros and cons before you start.
Advantages of Social Media for Business
Social media can help you engage with your customers and find out what people are saying about your business. You can also use social media for advertising, promotional giveaways, and mobile applications.
Social media can help your business to:
- attract customers, get customer feedback and build customer loyalty
- increase your market reach, including international markets
- do market research and reduce marketing costs
- increase revenue by building customer networks and advertising
- develop your brand
- exchange ideas to improve the way you do business
- recruit skilled staff for example through job networking sites like LinkedIn
- increase traffic to your website and improve its search engine ranking
- keep an eye on your competitors.
Disadvantages of Social Media
Social media may not be suited to every business. If you are unprepared and launch your social media presence without planning, you could waste valuable time and money.
You should be aware that:
- if you don’t have a clear marketing or social media strategy, the benefits may be reduced
- you may need additional resources to manage your online presence
- social media is immediate and needs daily monitoring
- if you don’t actively manage your social media presence, you may not see any real benefits
- you may get unwanted or inappropriate behavior on your site, including bullying and harassment
- online exposure could attract risks such as negative feedback, information leaks, or hacking
- false or misleading claims made on your social media (by your business or a customer) can be subject to consumer law. You could be fined if a customer fan posts misleading or deceptive information, particularly about competitor products or services.
Whatever the risks, having a social media strategy and preparing your policy and procedures carefully beforehand can help you manage them.
Benefits of Social Media for Business
Social media for business is no longer optional. It’s an essential way to reach your customers, gain valuable insights, and grow your brand.
More than three-fourths of World internet users access social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Many of them used social media to learn more about brands, and all brands, big and small, have the opportunity to share their product or service with social media users. Years ago, businesses were skeptical of using social media for marketing, but now you will find that it is a significant part of their marketing efforts.
What are the benefits of using social media for business? Consider that there are now more than 4.2 billion active social media users across the globe.
If you’re not taking advantage of social within your digital marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a fast, inexpensive, and effective way to reach almost half the world’s population.
Let’s look at the many ways in which social media can help you connect with your target audience, engage with customers and grow your business.
Benefits of social media for brand building
- Increase brand awareness
With over half of the world’s population using social media, platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter a natural place to reach new and highly targeted potential customers.
Think people only connect with brands they already know on social media? Consider that 83 percent of Instagram users say they discover new products on the platform.
When Stillhouse Spirits ran a Facebook campaign to increase brand awareness among outdoor enthusiasts, the company achieved a 17-point lift in ad recall.
- Humanize your brand
The ability to create real human connections (a.k.a. Meaningful Relationship Moments) is one of the key benefits of social media for business. Introduce your followers to the people who make up your company and showcase how existing customers are using and benefiting from your products.
Authenticity builds trust. Trust, in turn, builds marketing receptiveness and drives new business. And social is the best place to get real!
Show how you’re embracing your brand values, how your product works in real life, and how you’re putting the interests of your employees and customers first.
- Establish your brand as a thought leader
The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer found that while there has been a recent swing towards distrust of government, NGOs, and media, business is an institution with a 61 percent level of trust. People are looking to brands for insights and information… and there’s no better place to share that than social media.
No matter what industry your business is in, social media offers the opportunity to establish your brand as a thought leader—the go-to source for information on topics related to your niche.
LinkedIn—particularly the LinkedIn Publishing Platform—is a great network to focus on when aiming to establish your thought leadership.
Hootsuite chairman and co-founder Ryan Holmes have more than 1.7 million followers on LinkedIn, where he shares his insights about social media and entrepreneurship.
- Stay top of mind
Seventy percent of social media users log into their accounts at least once per day, according to a 2021 study by Pew Research Center, and many people (49 percent!) admit to checking social multiple times per day.
Social media allows your features to connect with fans and followers every time they log in. Keep your social posts entertaining and informative, and your followers will be glad to see your new content in their feeds, keeping you top of mind so you’re their first stop when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be glued to your accounts 24/7. A scheduling tool like Hootsuite can help you plan your social media content to post well in advance.
Benefits of social media for growth
- Increase website traffic
Social media posts and ads are key ways to drive traffic to your website. Sharing great content from your blog or website to your social channels is a great way to get readers as soon as you publish a new post.
Architectural Digest, for instance, teases Story content in its Instagram feed, and then directs followers to read the full article (and see more beautiful pictures) via the “link in bio.”
Participating in social chats can also be a great way to increase your visibility, get attention from new people, showcase your expertise, and drive traffic to your website. (Though make sure to go beyond self-promotion to offer real value!)
Include your website address in all of your social media profiles so that people who want to learn more about you can do so with one easy click.
- Generate leads
Social media offers an easy and low-commitment way for potential customers to express interest in your business and your products. Lead generation is such an important benefit of social media for businesses that many social networks offer advertising formats specifically designed to collect leads.
For example, McCarthy and Stone used Facebook lead ads that allowed people interested in learning more about their real estate projects to learn more about the properties, with just a couple of taps.
The ads wound up producing 4.3 times more sales leads than the year before, at a cost 2 times lower than more traditional digital prospecting campaigns with real estate ads.
- Boost sales
Your social accounts are a critical part of your sales funnel—the process through which a new contact becomes a customer. (Lingo alert: this is called social selling!)
As the number of people using social media continues to grow and social sales tools evolve, social networks will become increasingly important for product search and e-commerce. The time is right to align your social marketing efforts with sales goals.
- Partner with influencers
Recommendations from friends and family play a huge role in consumer decisions, as do reviews. When you get people talking about your product or company on social media, you build brand awareness and credibility and set yourself up for more sales.
One key way to drive social word of mouth is to partner with influencers—people who have a large following on social media and can draw the attention of that following to your brand.
Lingerie brand Adore Me partnered with influencers for a series of unboxing videos on Instagram and saw a huge bump from content that was showcased directly in the influencers’ accounts. This included a doubled click-through rate and a seven percent higher sales conversion rate.
Benefits of Social Media for Content Creation and Distribution
- Promote content
Promoting your content on social channels is a great way to get your smart, well-researched content in front of new people, proving your expertise and growing your audience.
For example, Hootsuite shared fun facts and stats from their latest Digital 2021 global report with their Twitter audience through a series of infographics.
To maximize the benefits of social media for business, make sure to have a content marketing plan in place, too.
- Go viral
As people start liking, commenting on, and sharing your social posts, your content is exposed to new audiences—their friends and followers. Going viral takes this concept one step further.
As people share your content with their networks, and their networks follow suit, your content spreads across the internet, potentially getting thousands or even millions of shares.
This exposure is especially beneficial because, in a world where there is far more content than any one person could ever consume, a friend’s social share acts as a kind of pre-screening.
Going viral is no easy task, of course, but without social media, it would be next to impossible.
Being on social media also means that your fans can help you with this goal… like when one TikTok user-created choreography for Grammarly’s Youtube ad audio and sparked a trend of 100,000-plus users doing the same.
- Source content
There are two key ways businesses can source content on social media:
- Source ideas: Ask your followers what they want, or engage in social listening, to come up with ideas for content you can create yourself. Put simply: Give people what they’re asking for. It’s a sure way to create content that people will want to read and share.
- Source material for posts: Create a contest or use a hashtag to source user-generated content (UGC) you can share. Getting your followers involved can build excitement about your brand, while also providing you with a library of social posts to share over time.
Canadian meal-kit subscription service GoodFood regularly feature members’ own home-cooked meals in their Instagram feed, encouraging followers to share their photos by using the hashtag #GoodfoodieMoment.
Benefits of Social Media for Communication
- Reputation management
Your customers are already talking about you on social media, whether or not you’re there to respond. If you and your team are on the ball, you can pick up on important social posts about your brand to highlight the positive and address the negative before it turns into a major issue.
Like, for example, if people are posting about their frustration with a bad customer service experience.
Is someone saying something about your business that’s not true? Be sure to share your side of the story in a polite, professional way. Someone singing your praises? Send them plenty of thanks and draw attention to their kind words.
- Crisis communication
Does your company have a plan in place for dealing with a crisis? While small businesses may not have a crisis blow up to the same sort of scale as, say, an issue with Starbucks, a smaller number of shares can have a devastating impact within a tight-knit community or niche.
Silence is not an option when it comes to responding to crises on social media. Maintaining well-run and managed social accounts and having a plan in place can help make sure you’re present and ready to engage if the worst occurs.
- Customer and audience engagement
Social networks allow you to interact directly with customers and fans, and likewise give them the chance to interact directly with your brand. Unlike traditional media, which offers only one-way communication, social media is a two-way street.
If you want customers and followers to be engaged, you have to be engaged yourself. Stay active and respond to comments and questions on your own social media posts in a way that’s appropriate to your brand.
You can also use social media monitoring to keep an eye on what people are saying across the social web. Burger King doesn’t just tweet, it responds to others who are mentioning BK, too.
- Customer service and customer support
People expect brands to be available on social media and seek out their social accounts for customer service — and beyond that, about half of social media users expect a response from brands on social media within three hours.
Social customer care can go hand in hand with more traditional customer service if you have the right tools. A customer service platform like Sparkcentral by Hootsuite can help you handle incoming messages across social media, email, text messages, and live chat.
Benefits of social media for gaining insights
- Learn more about your customers
Social media generates a huge amount of data about your customers in real-time. You can use that information to make smarter business decisions.
All of the major social networks offer analytics that provides demographic information about the people interacting with your account. This can help you tailor your social media marketing strategy to better speak to your real audience.
We’ve created extensive guides on how to use analytics in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest, so there’s no excuse to remain in the dark about your customers and social followers.
- Gauge sentiment around your brand
We mentioned social media monitoring above as an important element of audience engagement. But it’s also a key source of intelligence about your brand itself. While it’s important to know how much people are talking about you online, it’s also important to know what they’re actually saying — and feeling — about your brand.
Lots of mentions could be a good thing… but if you’re getting lots of mentions with a negative sentiment, you need to do some quick thinking to figure out what’s gone wrong and address the problem.
Using social media for your business allows you to stay on top of sentiment analysis so you can protect your brand reputation.
- Keep an eye on the competition
It’s also important to know what people are saying about your competitors.
For example, tracking mentions of your competitors might reveal pain points with their products or services that you could reach out to address, winning new customers in the process.
Monitoring the competition on social media also means you’ll be aware when your competitors launch new products, run promotions, and release new reports or data.
- Stay on top of industry news
In the online world, things move fast—and you can’t afford to be left behind. Keeping a virtual ear to the ground through social listening is a way to stay informed about upcoming changes to your industry that could affect the way you do business.
Benefits of social media for advertising
- Targeted advertising
Social ads are an inexpensive way to promote your business and distribute content. They also offer powerful targeting options so you can reach the right audience and make the most of your budget.
Savvy marketers have embraced this key benefit of social media for business: by 2022, advertisers are expected to spend over $56 billion on promoting products over social.
Verb energy bars, for instance, created a campaign that reached across all of Facebook’s apps and services to a custom audience of U.S. adults.
With ad targeting options including demographic information, geography, language, and even online behaviors, you can craft specific messages that best speak to different groups of potential customers and only pay for the exact viewers you want to reach.
Nearly 70 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned.
People who have abandoned products in a shopping cart are prime potential customers. They have already found your website, browsed your products, and made a decision about what they might want. People abandon shopping carts for many reasons, but someone who has expressed this degree of interest in your company should not be ignored.
Using tracking tools like the Facebook pixel, you can show these potential customers social media ads for the exact products they have browsed on your website or placed in the shopping cart.
Benefits of social media for proving ROI
- Reporting and analytics
It is always a challenge for marketers to prove return on investment. But with social media tracking and analytics tools, you can see the full impact of your social media activities, from follows to engagements right through to purchases.
Tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite Impact track website traffic generated from social media, conversions, email sign-ups, and ROI for both organic and paid social media campaigns.
UTM parameters are another great tracking tool that will help you see which social networks are providing the most benefits for your business.
Social media has certainly proven beneficial over the last two decades. Once a communication experiment that later evolved into platforms figuring out just how much personal data people would make available to their “digital networks,” social media remains a huge part of the World’s everyday lives.
For businesses, social media has created a way to send a brand’s messaging to the right people at the right time and hope your brand sticks out to them enough to be interested, let alone loyal throughout their lives.