Does social media really work for business?

May 2018

Social media

Ever wondered if social media can really work for business? Whether it can add value to your business? Whether people really do business or buy business services from what they see on social media? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

As a marketing and communications agency, these are questions we get asked on a regular basis. If social media marketing isn’t already part of your wider marketing plan, it can be hard to see the benefits and as a result, it’s hard to justify investing any time or money in this activity. But in an age where more and more information is being found and digested online, social media for business is becoming more important than ever.

So, what exactly is the importance of social media in business?

Social media for business holds a magnitude of great opportunities but only if you are clear on what your objectives are, and which channels are right for you. There’s no point posting on social media ‘for the sake of it’ as you’ll never see a return on your investment. Instead, knowing how social media can benefit your business will help you to devise a plan that capitalises on each of these opportunities and will produce the results you hoped for.

Here are some of the ways your business can benefit from incorporating social media in your marketing plan:

The opportunity to learn about your customers

Do you know your customers inside out? Or do you just think you do? Are you working from assumptions or real data? Social media offers some brilliant analytics to learn more about your prospects, so you can gather a bank of data that can be used to further define your marketing strategy. For example, social media data can tell you what your customers interests are, what or who they engage with and their purchasing habits/buying trends. Armed with this information, you can tailor your activity to be more appealing, more in tune with their interests, and as a result, see an increase in enquiries and/or purchases.

Increase brand awareness for little to no cost

Did you know by 2020, social networks are expected to have 2.95 billion users? That’s a huge audience available at your fingertips and whilst not all 2.95 billion of these users will be a good fit for your company, it’s likely that a good percentage of your target audience will be active on these sites.

Did you know that 57% of the purchasing process is complete before suppliers are contacted? That means it’s incredibly important to make use of social platforms, so that you maximise the amount of information available to your potential customers before they make a decision. Not only this, but as 7-20 people can be involved in B2B purchasing decisions, having information widely available on social networking site for everyone in the decision-making process is essential.

What’s even better is that social media for business is completely free. You can set up a business page on any social platform for no cost at all. That means you have free and unlimited access and exposure to huge audiences; allowing you to increase brand awareness for little to no investment. To know whether your social strategy has been effective in increasing brand awareness, it’s wise to invest in a social media monitoring tool. Tools such as Klout can help you measure the impact your company is creating on your chosen social media channels.

Find out what people are saying about you

Whether your business is on social media or not, it’s still likely that your customers and prospects are using these platforms to talk about you. Perhaps a prospect is looking for recommendations on good providers of your services, is asking questions that relate to your market or even wants to share a great experience they’ve had with your company. Being active on the right channels gives you the chance to listen to what your customers have to say and respond where appropriate. It also gives you a chance to respond to any negative comments or perceptions should it be necessary before they spread too far.

Improved SEO

Social media for business is not only important for awareness but for SEO too. If you’re struggling to get your website onto page one of search results, social media can help. When you share a link to your website on a social network and it is re-shared by your followers, Google sees this page as credible and increases your likelihood of grabbing the number one position. As 90% of internet browsers don’t click passed page one of search results, it’s vital you do everything you can to improve your website’s SEO.

Increase your website traffic

Social media for business is a great way to increase traffic to your website. Whilst this may or may not be your best-selling tool, there are definitely advantages to this. Using social media to put links to your website directly in front of your target audience will increase the opportunities for them to access your website. Then once you have them there, you can encourage them to download a paper, view a case study or take part in a mini survey that will help them to evaluate your service and push them further through the buying journey.

Not only is this great for attaining new customers, it’s also a great way to ensure the loyalty of your existing clients. Regularly appearing in their news feed will act as a subtle reminder that you still exist; prompting them to continue using your service or re-purchase.

Social networks are replacing search engines

Did you know that it is becoming increasingly common for consumers to use social networks like search engines? In fact, as many as 60% of people have stated that they use some social networking sites to find new products and services. That means if your business isn’t there when your target audience is looking, you could be missing out on vital business opportunities.

Where’s the proof?

You’re probably thinking:

“It’s all well and good telling me why social media is important for business, but where’s the proof that it actually works?”

While the results of social media marketing will vary from company to company and industry to industry, here’s some surprising facts that highlight the importance of social media in business:

  • 73% of businesses state that Facebook is very effective for marketing (Forbes, 2017)
  • 93% of Twitter users plan to purchase from the SMEs they follow (Hootsuite, 2018)
  • 43% of marketers have sourced customers from LinkedIn (Hootsuite, 2018)
  • 60% of Instagram users find new products/services through the platform (Hootsuite, 2018)
  • 71% of consumers that have a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend the company (Ambassador, 2018)
  • More than 50% of marketeers who have used social media for 2 years state that it has improved their business sales (Social Media Examiner, 2016)
  • By spending just 6 hours a week on social media marketing, 66% of businesses saw lead generation improvements (Social Media Examiner, 2016)
  • 61% of business investing 6 or more hours in social media saw increased search engine rankings (Social Media Examiner, 2016)

A real life example:

Social media for Grayshott Pottery

At KPC, we have first-hand proof that social media for business can pay huge dividends. A great example is our work with local company, Grayshott Pottery. We’ve been working with Grayshott Pottery for a number of years and as part of a wider marketing plan, we run and maintain their social media accounts. Using a carefully devised strategy based on knowledge and research into the company’s ideal customer, we’ve manage to produce the following results:

  • Increased social following by 84% in 6 months
  • Increased social referrals to the website from 20 visitors a month to 550 visitors a month
  • Increased event participation by 200%
  • Increased café sales by 20%
  • Generated 500 extra sales in the emporium
  • Increased pottery sales by 3.5%

To find out more about our work with Grayshott Pottery, read the full case study here.

So what’s next?

If this article has helped you realise the importance of social media in business and inspired you to start using social media for your company, that’s great! Carefully devising a well thought through social strategy will pay huge dividends for your company in both the short and long term. However, to realise the true potential of social media for business, it’s best practice to use this tool as part of a wider marketing plan with consistent messaging reflected throughout.

If you need help implementing a social media marketing strategy as part of a wider marketing plan, get in touch with one of our experts. Alternatively, visit our marketing page to discover how we can work with your business to deliver results.