Why Should I Use Social Media For My Small Business?
Not everyone uses social media for their small business, but lots do. Plus lots of people are talking about getting their brand started on social media.
But social media for businesses seems a bit of an unknown to many. Perhaps you’re not sure how it can boost sales, or even how to use it.
Or maybe you’re keen to start but don’t know which platforms are best. No matter how small your business is, social media can be an effective tool for marketing. Here’s how it evolved and why you should use social media for your small business.
History of social media
Social media platforms have been around for over 20 years. GeoCities (mid-1990s) was one of the earliest social networking sites. SixDegrees.com (1997) soon followed and was named after named after the 6 degrees of separation concept.
In the early 2000s, LinkedIn was launched as a professional business networking site. Myspace, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube came on the scene in the mid-2000’s. Twitter and Tumblr followed in 2006-07, Pinterest and Instagram in 2010, and Google + and Snapchat in 2011.
When were businesses able to use social?
LinkedIn was developed as a business focused platform. Professionals were (and still are) able to post a profile which was like an online resume. It allowed individuals to send messages to invite each other to connect. It still remains a business focused platform to connect with other professionals.
Facebook was initially only available to Harvard University students. It was as soon launched to other university students, businesses and then anyone 13 years or over.
Early instances of business social media use
In 2006, Facebook business users were able to register with a .com or .org email rather than .edu. This gave rise for businesses to use Facebook which can be seen in this interactive timeline. February 2007 was one of the earliest uses of businesses using social for communication. JetBlue, a US airline used Twitter for communicating flight delay information. Businesses started to put links to their social media accounts from their websites.
Social media sharing
Facebook business ads were launched in late 2007 and business pages in 2008. Apple’s first generation iPhone hit the market in 2007.
The iPhone changed the way in which we used social media. It meant that social media was accessible wherever we went. Social networking wasn’t constrained to a desktop computer. By 2010 social media was accessible on a range of devices. The Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tablets.
Large and growing social media audience
The number of users on social media is large and growing. These statistics are based on Australian users and correct at 20/04/2016 Social Media News.
Social Media Statistics Australia – April 2016
1. Facebook – 15,000,000 users (steady)
2. YouTube – 14,250,000 UAVs
3. WordPress.com – 5,550,000
4. Instagram – 5,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users (Facebook/ Instagram data)
5. Tumblr – 4,400,000
6. LinkedIn – 3,850,000
7. Twitter – 2,800,000 Monthly Active Australian Users approx (see calculation)
8. WhatsApp – 2,400,000 Active Australian Users (see calculation)
9. TripAdvisor – 2,300,000
10. Blogspot- 2,150,000
11. Snapchat – 2,000,000 approx Monthly Active Australian Users (see calculation)
12. Tinder – 1,950,000 Australian users (my estimation)
13. Yelp – 1,600,000
14. Flickr – 560,000
15. Pinterest – 300,000
16. Reddit – 105,000
17. MySpace – 80,000
18. Google Plus – 60,000 monthly active Australian users approx (my estimation *revised*)
19. StumbleUpon – 40,000
20. Foursquare/Swarm – 18,000
21. Digg – 14,000
22. Delicious – 12,000
23. Periscope – 10,000
(All figures represent the number of Unique Australian Visitors [UAVs] to that website over the monthly period – unless otherwise stated above).
Stats courtesy: Vivid Social Research Division. Figures correct as of 30/04/16.
Why is social media useful for businesses?
Brand promotion and awareness
1. Tap into a large audience
You can get more reach and to tap into a targeted audience with social media. Hashtags, social sharing, influencer marketing and paid advertising allow you to reach a defined audience. This targeted audience may not even be within your state or country but in another area, you haven’t thought of.
2. Builds brand awareness
Whether it’s a new business you’re about to launch or an existing business social media can get your brand noticed. This is useful for potential customers who are in the research phase of the buying cycle. They can find you and research your brand.
3. Builds authority
By publishing and sharing reliable and useful information, you can build authority. People will come to you for help when they have a problem. You become a leader in a niche area. Then as an expert in that area, you build domain and audience authority.
4. Generates traffic to your website and blog
Social media allows you to promote your content and generate traffic to your website and blog. Increased traffic helps to build a larger email list by using a lead magnet. A lead magnet is given to a website visitor in return for their email. Their email address is then used for email marketing campaigns.
5. Improves SEO
Brings targeted traffic to your web pages which can have a positive effect on your search ranking. Content marketing can improve web page traffic and result in a higher search result for them.
Customer research and customer service
6. Understand customer problems
You can read about the problems your target market have. And use this to provide a targeted solution.
7. Get instant feedback
Allows you to get instant feedback about a product or service. This means you can respond quickly to your customers. And refine the way you do things in response to a complaint.
8. Builds a loyal community
Free information via content (or content marketing) helps to build brand loyalty. Continual engagement with your customers via rewards or special offers also creates loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to promote your content and business to others.
9. Keeps your customers engaged
Your customers and potential ones can get to know you and your brand. By using social media to post updates on new products, tips or new services, you’re able to frequently engage. Social media is about reaching out to your customers and not waiting for them to approach you.
Return on Investment
Social media is cost-effective. There’s no initial outlay. Using content marketing with social media is an effective way to attract new customers.
11. Paid advertising
Paid social media advertising allows you to advertise to a targeted audience. Social media offers the ability to target to a key demographic. This is due to the information held about social media users. You can promote a new product or service, or your lead magnet. Or get people to like a website, promote an in-store offer or even a webinar through paid advertising.
12. Generate leads and sales
More sales can be generated by using lead generation strategies and social media marketing. 77% of B2C companies generate leads on Facebook.
How do I use social media for my small business?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn are all popular social media platforms.