Nearly 4 billion people – more than half of the world’s population – use social media, roughly 80% of the UK population use social media, and the chances are that you also use social media. Why then, did the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills find that nearly 2 million British small businesses have no online presence?
Research done by Experian concluded that not having an online presence is one of the main reasons that small businesses fail, so it’s vital that you leverage its power for your business. So, social media could be a lifesaver, but why exactly should you be using it?
All businesses benefit from utilising social media platforms, but perhaps small businesses more than larger organisations. If Coca-Cola never made another Tweet or Facebook post, people would still be buying its drinks. For smaller businesses, social media allows you to build brand awareness so that over time you may begin to be recognised.
Having a social media profile gives you the opportunity for your brand to appear in people’s feeds, invite curiosity, find new customers or audiences, and grow a following. It’s much more powerful than someone walking past a shop window – someone can get the full picture of your brand by looking through your profile.
Social media profiles enable conversation on a level that was impossible before it came about. You can easily communicate with your customers, give more responsive customer service, and manage your reputation. Engaging in dialogue builds trust with your audience and can humanise your brand, something that can be harder for larger businesses to accomplish.
Remember that social media is a public forum, so you should always put your best foot forward. If you are rude to a customer, it’s out there for all to see. On the other hand, people can see if you handle complaints well or if people are leaving positive feedback about your products. It can go both ways, so make sure that you think twice before posting.
The online nature of social media means that numerous things are always being tracked. This can give you valuable insight into who your customers are, how long people stay on your page and which posts people interact with, which can help you better target your products and posts.
Reach a wider audience
The internet means you’re no longer bound by geographical barriers and it’s one of the biggest benefits of social media. Someone from another region or even another country can find you, like your product or service, and decide to become a customer. Even better, people will often share your brand with their online followers if they like what they see.
The potential to reach people that otherwise might not become a customer is unparalleled on social media, so you’re seriously missing out if you don’t have an online presence.
Reach the right audience
Social media also has various means to ensure that you reach not just more people, but people that are also likely to become a customer. You can use hashtags to target specific groups or types of people that would be interested in your brand. If you choose to boost posts (at a cost) to have them appear in more people’s feeds, then you can even choose which demographics (age, job, gender etc.) that you want to target.
Generate leads and sales
Social media is a worthwhile tool for the above reasons, but at the end of the day your business needs to make money. Thankfully, it can do that for you too. As mentioned, someone can discover your profile and become a customer without you having to “sell” to that specific person – your profile does the work for you (if you put the work into it). In fact, 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products on the platform.
There are numerous other methods you can use to boost your sales, such as partnering with influencers or paying to advertise. Both methods will drive traffic to your social media page and subsequently your website. Paid ads have great tracking methods so that you can see what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to tailor your approach differently in the future.
Paid advertisements generally don’t cost too much and so are fairly accessible to smaller businesses who don’t have a huge marketing budget. That being said, almost all social media is free unless you want to pay for LinkedIn Premium, but it isn’t necessary and you can do so much with a free social media profile. Regularly posting, engaging with customers, and sharing photos or information will bring a heap of benefits on their own.
If you want to successfully grow your small business and find more customers, social media is a must-have. It can be a powerful tool for businesses if used correctly and is a great way to legitimise your brand. Social media can be make-or-break for small businesses, so make the most of it!