The inception and evolution of social media platforms are continually shaping the way businesses communicate and interact with existing and prospective customers about their products and/or services. However, is it an indispensable marketing channel for every business? In this article, we’ll discuss and analyse social media from a holistic perspective to determine if it’s a necessary investment for your business. What is Social Media? Billions of people use social media, and we hear terms associated with it daily, but what is it actually? The credibility of a result relies on the depth of the understanding of the concept; so, let’s set the stage by defining the (now) common global term, ‘social media’. Social media is a computer-based technology that enables the sharing of content, including ideas, opinions and information with virtual communities. Reasons for using social media include but are not only limited to interests, staying in touch with friends and family; staying up to date with news, entertainment and networking. The inherent design of social media to work in harmony with the internet is what brought it to the fore as a valuable digital marketing platform. It allowed users to fulfil the basal need for instant gratification. It can be argued that the concept of social media can be explained from a scientific perspective. The Science of Social Media Please note that the following theory is conjecture. For those of you who took physics in high school, you’ll remember the theorem that speed is equal to the distance over time; distance equals speed multiplied by time and time equals distance over speed—shown below. The uniqueness and power of social media are that it accomplishes each variant of the equation; thereby, satisfying business-to-customers’ needs for the dissemination and receiving of relevant, valuable information quickly. Essentially, whichever way you look at it, a piece of content can be sent speedily, travel a long distance to reach a targeted audience in a minimal amount of time. It could be debated that from a holistic perspective, the intrinsic design that facilitates ‘social media physics’ is the main reason why the integration of social media strategies needs to be incorporated into a marketing plan. Do you currently have a social media presence? If not, this is the time to speak to digital marketing experts who are well versed in account creation that can be tailored to suit your business’ needs. Now, let’s whet your appetite by discussing the benefits that social media marketing can offer your business. The Benefits of Social Media for Business Marketing In this case, social media is being leveraged as a marketing technology (also known as martech). It allows businesses to perform numerous multimedia activities; these include but are not limited to photo sharing, blogging, social gaming, setting up and participation in social communities, video sharing, promotion of content and the ability to connect with business networks. No matter which type of activity is utilised, users have the ability to interact with the content, which provides businesses with measurable, trackable data to determine which social media marketing methods are gaining the most traction, and which aren’t. Therefore, you must have an agile social media marketing plan that is flexible enough to boost the aspects that are showing positive performance and review, correct and re-implement underperforming elements. Below are six pertinent benefits of social media marketing. 1. Drives targeted traffic Social media content should be written strategically so that it can convey the same message (and context) across the plethora of social media platforms. Businesses should already have an understanding of which platforms drive traffic that will generate quality leads, but that’s not always the case. If you are a brand-new start-up and are still in the process of finding your audience, it’s recommended that you make an appointment to have a marketing strategy consultation with a reputable digital marketing agency. If you’ve already implemented certain social media platforms, it is also a good idea to ask for a social media audit which involves a thorough analysis of all account pages and key information to determine overall performance on social media channels. Based on the results, experts will discern the types of marketing strategies that will assist you in finding, reaching out and interacting with your audience. Once applied, it will start driving quality traffic to your social media account pages which can increase the potential for reach and engagement. 2. Increase reach and engagement You’ll find that as your target audience becomes more defined, it will open up opportunities to diversify ways through which you can increase your reach and engagement. These metrics must be continually tracked and analysed so that you have measurable data on which to base the types of content that you post. For example, you may find that Instagram, on which you post visual content, is leading audience engagement. In this case, you should double down on the frequency of posting relevant, valuable content to maintain the trend. Conversely, if Twitter has dropped in audience engagement significantly, tweaking or building a new strategy that emulates your Instagram strategy may be necessary. We live in a digital era where ‘content is king’; however, that content needs to align with users’ behavioural trends and in turn, satisfy their needs. The online space is extremely competitive, and the reality is that if you don’t have a presence, competitors will take advantage and you’re likely to be forgotten. 3. Boosts SEO If this is a new concept to you as well, here’s a short explanation. ‘Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of acquiring quality website traffic organically (unpaid) by improving every feature of your online presence to ensure you achieve better engagement with your customers.’ Google has said that social media signals (such as mentions and/or shares) do not directly influence page ranking factors in search, but there are other ways that social media can positively affect SEO. Search Engine Journal explains three ways that social media can benefit SEO. The best opportunities for social media to help your organic search efforts include Creating link opportunities The difficulty here is that even the best content creators cannot link to something that they either don’t understand and/or know about. So, the onus is on the recipient to share and link to your content. This is another reason why a continuous monitoring of user behavioural trends is necessary for anticipating the type of content that has the potential to be popular and linked to by influencers. Increase positive brand mentions This can be achieved through fostering authority and gaining loyalty from your audience. So, it’s beneficial to have a working strategy to continually focus on ‘true brand fans.’ According to web influencer Neil Patel, ‘While social shares may or may not affect a web page’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names.’ He also makes a pivotal point that social media channels are search engines as well. ‘We need to understand that search engine optimisation includes the search that happens on social media search engines.’ It’s critical that you understand and embrace this notion when considering whether social media is a worthwhile investment for your business. The bottom line is that SEO is a process that should be implemented to ensure that you’ll be seen by an online audience that can be built into a social media community. This, in turn, can increase the potential to generate quality leads that can result in conversions. 4. Advertising on social media Here’s a quick definition of social media advertising for those of you who may not be familiar with the concept. A social ad markets a brand’s product/service by way of appearing on social media platforms. This type of ad, in particular, needs to grab attention very quickly; if not, users will scroll past it with no acknowledgement. Therefore, the ad should be accompanied by a multimedia element, e.g. picture, video, GIF or infographic. The description is short and should have a strong call-to-action (CTA). The advantages of social media advertising include Cost-effectiveness Social ads are relatively lower in comparison to other advertising methods. Brand visibility Billions of prospective customers use social media platforms daily, which optimises the chances of enhancing brand awareness and building of a solid reputation. Audience segmentation This variable becomes important once you have established a large, loyal audience base. It allows you to advertise to specific users that fit pre-defined criteria. We discuss audience segmentation in another article entitled, Should I Use Online Marketing for My Business? 5. Drive revenue growth Are you sceptical about how your business will receive a favourable ROI from an investment in social media marketing? Everything that has been discussed works in conjunction with each other to provide a return on your investment. There are many influencing factors, but ultimately, it’s your audience that is your ROI. They are the ones that spread brand awareness organically, read the quality of relevant, valuable content posted on social media platforms which fuels reach and engagement. An article published by Forbes, explains that “Facebook has over 2 billion, Instagram has 800 million, and Twitter has about 330 million monthly active users” So, it can be deduced that there is no shortage of followers and communities in the digital space who if targeted correctly, can potentially become high quality leads. Your ROI is also dependent on how you treat and manage your communities that you have worked tirelessly to obtain. If a user feels disengaged because you aren’t catering to their interests anymore, they will leave. So, how do you keep the attention of your audience? The answer is by implementing effective, personalised community management. Your social media channels should never languish. Users want to know that they are part of the business’s community and can feel assured that they belong to a network of like-minded people. Community management focuses on building authentic, long-lasting relationships with your audience. It’s critical to ensure that this is done correctly; that’s why it’s advisable to consult with a digital marketing agency that specialises in all aspects of social media. 6. Audience retention You don’t want a customer to make a once-off purchase. So, you need to have a strategy in place that sustains and strengthens their loyalty to your business. You want to add customers to your community so you can keep them coming back as frequently as possible. The best way to achieve this objective is through remarketing. This is a digital marketing strategy that serves targeted ads to people who have visited or made any action on your website. Remarketing is a useful tool for a business to promote a service offering and/or product or to achieve a specific goal such as generating more quality leads. ‘Spend time fostering your community by engaging with your followers through comment replies, direct messages, or reposting their content,’ says social media guru, Crystal King. Furthermore, remarketing of your most successful content can be used in conjunction with your platform-centric social media strategies to increase engagement. This is why it’s fundamental that all content is tracked to identify which content your audience enjoys. The ability to regain traffic loss is one of remarketing’s best facets. It lets brands re-engage with visitors who were on the site previously. Primarily, it offers your brand another chance to reach out to your audience and customers. The combination of SEO and referrals via targeted social media campaigns is a reliable method to recapture customers who have a higher likelihood of converting. At fio.agency, we believe in the power of social media and advocate it as a necessary investment for your business. Our team of specialists have the knowledge and tools to either begin or enhance your online presence, develop strategies to attract your ideal audience as well as manage your virtual communities.