Impact of Using Social Media for Business

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The one important marketing outlet that you absolutely need in your advertising mix is social media. Still believe that social media marketing is strictly for helping people reconnect with family and friends?

Think again?

It's become a marketing channel that's absolutely vital to your business's success. In fact, 75 percent of businesses now have some type of social media presence, whether it's a Facebook business page or LinkedIn company page. And you better believe that your competitors are committed to increasing their social media presence. Spending on social media advertising alone is expected to top $24 billion in the next year.

Guess what?

Considering that 74 percent of online adults use social media, there is a very good chance that your customers do too. So as you ask yourself, "why use social media for business", we encourage you to take a look at the benefits that social media can offer your own business. And since there are a number of benefits, here's a breakdown of both the immediate and long-term benefits of using social media for business. Since we all like immediate gratification, let's first take a look at the benefits that your business will realize right away from social media:

Immediate Benefit: Never-Ending Opportunity To Talk To Your Customers

Before social media, businesses were limited in the way that they could communicate with customers. Remember the dark ages when you actually had to walk into the store? However, with social media, you can constantly keep the conversation flowing with your target audience, helping to keep your business top-of-mind and top-of-the-competition. Use social media to discover solutions to the problems your customers are searching for, unbiased feedback about your products and services and real-time analytics on the sentiment of your company.

Know the types of content that are most likely to engage your audience and incorporate this into your social media posts. Most importantly, make social media a two-way conversation. Don't do all the talking yourself. Continue to find ways to get your audience to jump into your online conversations and start building a real relationship.

Immediate Benefit: Increase In Trust and Brand Recall

Potential customers are now searching sites like Twitter and Facebook to find businesses, products and services. Would you rather a competitor show up before you do when these social searches occur? By simply launching your brand on social media, you'll instantly notice increased brand recognition because you can now be found online.

But that is only half the battle!

Now that customers can find you, they then will expect you to be active and accessible. If your audience sees your brand on multiple social media platforms, they'll become better acquainted with your business.

That kind of trust and acquaintance only comes with remaining active on social media. Remember, there's much more to social media marketing than simply creating a profile on a social networking site. Focusing on creating quality content on a regular (frequent) schedule will help to maximize your exposure and brand recognition on social media.

Immediate Benefit: Increase in Repeat Customers

Data reveals that businesses that engage with their audience on social media experience increased brand loyalty from customers. Another study showed that 53 percent of people that choose to follow their favorite brands on social media are more loyal to those brands.

Which makes sense, right?

Social media provides your business with huge potential to tap into your audience of loyal fans and use social media to turn them into brand advocates. After all, social media is the new word of mouth.

Immediate Benefit: Showcase Your Unique Brand Voice

In an increasingly digital world, social media may be the first encounter than many prospective customers have with your business. With so much business being conducted over the internet, your customers might not have an opportunity to have an "insert your businesses here" experience in person. However, when you have a social media presence, you can use this marketing outlet as an opportunity to showcase your brand's unique voice and personality. You should think of your social media voice as the attitude and language that you use to communicate with your fans.

It should be consistent with your company culture, and it's critical to your branding that the same voice be used across all social media platforms. If you can successfully cultivate a social personality, you'll find that your online fans will be more willing to have genuine conversations with you. Your social media voice can do wonders for helping to humanize your brand.

Not bad for immediate results. Ready for the long term benefits?

Long-term Benefit: Improve Your SEO

There's no question that social media marketing and SEO are two very closely related strategies. Every time a follower or fan shares, comments, likes, or favorites a social media post that includes a link to your website you get what is called a social shares. Social shares play an important role in your SEO strategy because it tells Google, this website is very popular – look at all the shares it is getting. And the greater your social media shares, the better your search rankings on sites like Google will typically be. Focusing on growing your social media follower base, encouraging quality external inbound links, and optimizing your social media posts for searches are easy ways that social media can benefit SEO.

Remember, social media won't just improve SEO overnight. You need to be continuously intentional with your social media marketing approach over time for the best boost to SEO.

Long-term Benefit: Become a Thought Leader

If you regularly share high-quality content that offers true value to your social media audience, you can eventually establish yourself as an authority in your field. The go-to guy (or girl). Instead of serving up a bunch of fluff like what your competitors might be doing on social media, take the time to share helpful content, answer questions, and serve your audience. Just by doing this, you'll differentiate your brand and inevitably build loyal fans.

Long-term Benefit: Build a Community of Brand Evangelists

Social media is probably your most powerful resource for building a community of loyal followers. Not only will this community help you gain insight into challenges your audience is facing and what they like and don't like about your offerings, but it also is the perfect way to cultivate brand evangelists. People crave third party validation, and hearing existing customers singing your praises on social media is a very effective way to build credibility for your business.

Did you know that consumers today trust other consumers more than they trust traditional advertising?

With so many consumers turning to social media to share their feedback, your business needs to be using social media platforms to earn these trusted recommendations. This, too, takes time to earn, but its one of the greatest benefits of using social media to market your business. And still, the benefits above are just a drop in the bucket compared to all the immediate and long-term benefits of social media. Even though we've now addressed why use social media for business, you still may have some hesitation about social media, such as not having the extra time to put into an effective strategy or not feeling comfortable using the various social media platforms.

Piyush Vekariya