Social media has evolved into an extension of companies and when actioned can be a brilliant way to engage with customers and improve market intelligence. On the other hand, it is also argued that social media isn’t always the most suitable marketing tool for businesses.
There are a total of 2.206 billion active social media users worldwide, with 176 million new users in 2014 alone. It cannot be denied that social media is growing at an astonishing rate, so we are considering the pros and cons of SMEs staying social. We provide statistics on the benefits of using social media and tips on how to succeed in the world of corporate social activity!
Improve market intelligence and stay ahead of competitors
It could be argued that social media is to businesses today, what the internet was to businesses ten years ago! Social media demonstrates that you have a strong online presence and is an opportunity to create a personable impression of your business. Audiences gain confidence from a company’s social media presence, and as a result 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy products from brands that they follow online.
Social media is extremely important to online marketing and allows you to be able to engage with your customer base, as well as reaching new audiences who may not have been exposed to the brand prior to social media interaction. As a result, when social media is used effectively it can nurture and increase sales conversions.
We no longer live in an era where follower-counts are paramount and engagement with followers and fans is now key in social media success. In order to engage with followers, you must share relatable and interesting content, which can include links to news or blog posts on your website to further educate followers. This ultimately boosts your website traffic and organic searches.
Research demonstrates how SMEs are more likely to succeed in the social media arena as they are able to ‘strike the right tone’, appealing to the target market. SMEs are able to build improved customer relationships through social media, compared to large businesses, and can adapt and improve depending on market research. SMEs will benefit from good social media as they’ll experience an increase in online traffic, CTRs and search engine rankings.
The rate in which individuals are joining social media sites is astonishing, with Facebook adding half a million new users every day, 6 new profiles every second and 56% of people checking their accounts daily. SMEs are able to keep followers engaged by posting varying content such as original written content, visuals, videos and audio content.
Social media might not be so social after all
At a first glance social media is attractive as signing up to these platforms is completely free. However, in order for your social media to succeed, it may be ideal to assign one employee to work on Digital Marketing and Social Media. This of course has cost and time implications, as you may need to recruit new employees or train existing staff.
It is imperative that you assign enough time to your social media, as neglected accounts could be detrimental to people’s impressions of the brand. 50% of shoppers now make purchases based on recommendations through social media networks, so it is essential that you spend enough time planning compelling content, promotions and sparking interesting conversation with followers and fans.
Building social media accounts can also be a lengthy experience, and again it’s crucial to create personable and reliable profiles (whether that be adding company background or following applicable accounts). Followers, clients and prospective customers will feel at ease with a seamless experience between website, documents, and social media accounts. Establishing yourselves on social media can often be a laborious process, so paid advertising may be a quick fix to target the ideal audience. To get the best results from paid ads, you should have a thorough social media plan in place so that the aims and objectives are clear.
If you don’t have the resource to set up and manage your own social media, there are agencies that can execute it for you. This in itself can have pros and cons; for example it’s easy for an external specialist to manage your social activity, but it can be costly and means you have limited control. ‘Last minute’ updates can end up taking some time to be published, and you may miss deadlines or trends / conversations that apply to the brand, where you could have potentially been a thought leader in the discussion.
Benefits of social media for SMEs
When social media is executed well and your brand has a clear vision of its use of social media, then you can reap plenty of rewards as a result. These benefits include some of the following:
- 92% of businesses experienced increased brand exposure
- 80% of businesses see an increase in web traffic
- 72% of businesses successfully develop loyal ‘fans’
- 71% of companies gained a new market insight
- 66% of brands were able to generate more leads
- 61% experienced improved search rankings
- 58% were able to grow their business partnerships
- 51% of businesses were able to reduce marketing expenditure
Social media tips
Follow these simple steps to maximise the success of your social media accounts…
- Measure and quantify your social media activities
- Don’t use social networks that are not performing or that are not suited to your brand / target market
- Educate allocated team on changes in social media and hold regular meetings to consider new campaigns for execution
- Share different formats of content customised for the different social platform
- Plan for social media advertising