People commonly associate social media with sharing memes and keeping in touch with friends. However, it’s as valuable to businesses as traditional forms of mass media, especially since people use it increasingly for news updates.
Consumers now turn to the likes of Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to research businesses. Almost half of working-age Internet users use social media to research brands. This means being active on social media is as important as keeping your website up to date.
Because the Internet is widely accessible and interactive, it’s easy for your target audience to find, communicate, and mention you via social media. So, you need to make sure you show up on social media and engage with your target audience regularly.
If your business has been sleeping on social media, now’s the time to wake up. Social can help your business improve:
- Brand awareness
- Company growth
- Lead generation
- Business performance
Whether you want to expand brand visibility, connect with your audience, or take your business global, social media provides lots of value for businesses of all sizes. This article focuses on advantages specific to the four categories listed above to give you a solid understanding of how powerful social media can be for your business.
Social media benefits for brand awareness
Brand awareness lies at the heart of securing an audience for your business. After all, if people don’t know about your company, how can they buy from you?
Increasing brand awareness improves trust. With 46% of consumers saying they’d spend more on a name they trust, it pays to build brand awareness. Moreover, surveyed consumers stated 75% of brands could disappear and be easily replaced, making it crucial to cement your brand’s place in relevant markets.
Thankfully, social media offers several ways to increase brand awareness and make sure your name is one people recognize and remember.
1) Increase visibility
The adage “all press is good press” originates from visibility. Although the saying is debatable, a business should strive to be as visible as possible to its target audience.
If people can only learn about your business by visiting your website, you could be missing valuable customers. The more places consumers can connect with your business, the more likely they are to find you.
There are over four billion active social media users in the world, and new social media platforms continue to pop up. TikTok’s meteoric rise in popularity demonstrates how much people love social media.
Increasing brand visibility through social media requires more than sharing the odd post here and there. To gain the most out of your online presence, develop a well-executed social media strategy.
Appear on the social media channels where your target audience is most active and share relevant and engaging content to get more eyes on your brand. Posting useful information at least once a week increases the chances of remaining on your consumers’ radar. If you don’t have time to post every day, consider adopting Hootsuite, which is an easy, intuitive tool for scheduling social media posts.
2) Become a thought leader
Business leaders can use social media to share their ideas and expertise and thus strengthen their industry position.
Social media thought leadership involves crafting and posting content that presents you as a credible voice in your industry. You can leverage it on an individual or corporate level to position key employees or the brand itself as industry experts.
Thought leaders recognize who they’re targeting and why. They then use this knowledge to create content that offers unique and valuable insights to their audience. In turn, this drip-feed of expertise on specific topics builds credibility and trust.
If you want to be a thought leader on social media, you first need to understand your target audience — their interests, pain points, and the content formats they consume. Consistently publish content that captures your audience’s attention and demonstrates your authority. Consider sharing case studies, personal anecdotes, customer testimonials, or your perspective on the latest industry news and trends.
3) Humanize your brand
Today’s consumers seek out genuine interactions with companies before they commit to purchasing. This means brands must appear human to secure customer loyalty.
Humanizing your business is the adoption of a relatable and personable communication style when engaging with customers. Humanized brands swap business jargon for a more casual and colloquial tone of voice. Essentially, you cultivate your brand’s personality and values.
Social media is great for showing off the human side of your brand by interacting with your audience, developing meaningful connections, and sharing relatable and authentic content.
Source: National Park Service on Twitter
Some businesses that do a great job of being genuine on Twitter are Wendys, Uber, and the National Park Service, proving brands from any sector can be human. The National Park Service uses Twitter the same way you or I would by sharing funny photos, quips, and using a casual tone of voice. At the same time, they stay true to their niche by linking their content back to nature, be it a photo of an elk or a fun fact about the ecosystem.
4) Stay relevant
Brands need to remain relevant to achieve long-term success, which means staying innovative, aware of trends, and able to keep up with their customers’ preferences.
Our world today is undeniably digital. If your company has little to no online presence, you’ll fade into the background. Stand out by creating unique content that’s hard to imitate. You can also take advantage of popular social media posts. Keep a lookout for trending topics and use those emerging trends to share reactive content that puts your brand in the middle of the conversation.
5) Boost credibility
Three out of five people use the Internet to find information. However, with its plethora of questionable news and sources, brands must remain a credible and trustworthy fount of information for their audience.
Leverage social media to post accurate, bias-free, and reliable information to improve brand credibility. Research and vet information thoroughly before you share anything online — the last thing you want to do is spread misinformation. Align your brand with industry experts or build thought leadership and expertise within your business to further strengthen your credibility.
6) Source user-generated content
Social media is a hotbed of user-generated content (UGC), which is content published by an unpaid contributor. It includes comments, photos, and videos shared on social media platforms, discussions in forums, or blog posts, among other formats.
Whether it’s tagging a restaurant on Instagram or showing off their latest skincare routine on TikTok, people love sharing their latest finds and recommendations online.
We know people are far more likely to trust recommendations from their friends and family, but this same rule applies to social media as well. Consumers are much more likely to trust content from their social media peers than from brands, with buyers finding UGC to be 9.8 times more impactful than paid influencer content.
UGC acts as great social proof for your brand as well. Use social media to find relevant UGC for your business by searching for brand mentions and monitoring tagged content on your brand channels. You can also run UGC campaigns where you send consumers and content creators products in return for a social media post about the items.
If there’s one brand that leverages UGC well, it’s Apple. Their #ShotOnIphone hashtag campaign on Instagram invites Iphone users to show off their phone photography. It’s become a popular success, with over 27,000,000 photos shared. Even better, the team behind Apple’s Instagram can then reshare the photos on their feed or bring them into the real world with billboard adverts.
Social media benefits for business growth
Social media could be the answer to faster growth. Businesses of all sizes can leverage it to expand their brand by transforming themselves into an active participant in their industry.
The sheer volume of active users demonstrates how social media can introduce your business to the people you’re trying to reach. Plus, a greater social media presence can boost website traffic and sales as well.
1) Engage with your audience
Social media opens a direct channel between your brand and your audience, presenting a unique opportunity to learn what makes them tick.
See what your target audience is interested in and discover the latest trends. Many social media analytical tools let you view follower demographics so you can find out whether your consumer base is mostly male or female, where they’re mainly located, and their dominant age range. Social media listening tools also allow you to dig deeper into audience interests and brand sentiment (more on that later). You can then use this information to fine-tune your marketing, sales, and product development processes.
Meanwhile, actively engaging with your customers on social media helps you forge strong relationships with them. While banks and financial institutions may seem boring or stuffy, UK bank Monzo has fun online by interacting with their followers and responding to tweets. They’re also quick to reply to and help resolve customer issues.
Create posts that encourage your audience to join the discussion, reply to users, and spark conversations on social media. When people feel connected to brands, 57% of consumers will buy more from them. Connection is currency, so, if you want to grow your business, you need to engage with people on social media.
2) Globalize your brand
Social media provides an easy way to take your brand global. You can chat with consumers near and far, or use it to stay connected with businesses and people on the other side of the world. If a consumer hits “like” on your Facebook page, for example, your posts will be visible whether they log in to the platform from America or Australia.
It’s also an ideal route to break into new markets. If you’re exploring the idea of global expansion, you could use social media to research new markets and understand consumer behavior in different countries. Additionally, you could incorporate teasing the global launch of your business into your social media strategy if you have an existing global network.
Businesses that are already global can employ social media to deliver a more personalized experience to local consumers around the world. Create regional social media pages and adapt your brand voice and marketing strategy to suit the social customs in different locations.
3) Increase website traffic
Being active on social media isn’t only about gaining followers and going viral; it can also drive traffic to your company website. According to data from HubSpot, 16% of website traffic comes from social media. So, if 10,000 people visit your website every day, social media could drive a further 1,600 people to it daily.
Make it easy for people to get to your website from your social media account by adding a link to it in the bio and, where suitable, sharing links in your content. You could link to your products and services, share a recent blog post, or direct people to your website to register for workshops and download reports. Importantly, craft a compelling social media call-to-action (CTA) to encourage people to click through to your website.
4) Provide customer support
Once upon a time, businesses could afford to leave customer support to helplines and email addresses. These days, it’s mandatory for brands to support customers online.
More and more people turn to social media to voice their brand complaints and woes, such as poor customer experiences, or to reach out to businesses for support. This 24/7 direct line of communication with your consumers enables your customer service team to address and resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
Warby Parker uses Twitter to manage customer queries and complaints expertly. They promptly reply to any customer queries and direct them to Direct Messages, where they can help the customer with one-on-one support.
Prioritize customer satisfaction by using social media as a customer service channel. Launch a team dedicated to offering customer support through social media or adopt an omnichannel customer service solution to support customers across channels with ease.
5) Gain customer feedback
Social media is a gold mine of valuable customer feedback, positioning itself perfectly for gathering audience intelligence. Chat with your customers on social media to understand their thoughts and feelings about your current social media content or business offerings.
Meanwhile, customer service conversations through these portals will highlight any customer pain points and allow customers to voice their thoughts. Measuring engagement metrics as well reveals how customers react to your brand content and how to improve tactics going forward.
Social media benefits for lead generation
Social media can also be a powerful driver for lead generation. However, it requires more effort than simply publishing a post and patiently waiting for prospects to roll in.
If TikTok’s recent rise in popularity proves anything, it’s that being active on social media can drive sales by putting you in direct contact with your ideal audience. The “TikTok made me buy it” hype occurs almost everywhere, from Amazon product listings to in-store point-of-sale (POS) displays. Social media can be just as effective at driving leads for service-based and B2B businesses as it is for B2C or product-based brands.
Whether you’re aiming to increase newsletter subscribers, SaaS sign-ups, or customers in general, social media can help you reach your lead generation goals.
1) Launch organic social media campaigns
Organic social media campaigns are an excellent strategy for engaging authentically with customers while promoting your business.
Organic social media refers to any content you share on social media without paying. You can use it instead of or alongside paid social media activity to develop campaigns that work for your business goals and resources.
These types of campaigns establish brand awareness and drive interest for products and services. However, their success relies on having a specific goal in mind. You could, for example, create a series of social media posts promoting a new product launch to increase awareness and sales. With strategic planning, social media campaigns give you a chance to promote your brand and get in front of the right people.
2) Create lead generation ads
Opposite to organic, businesses can also take advantage of paid social media opportunities.
Advertising on social media lets businesses curate content based on who they want to target, what they want the audience to see, and the actions they want people to take. Paid social media adverts are highly customizable so your business can tailor the ad to suit your needs.
Many social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn, let you create ads to collect leads and find people interested in your business. Share these leads with your sales team so they can follow up and nurture those leads toward conversion.
3) Partner with influencers and content creators
Considering 61% of Instagram users trust influencer recommendations more than brand content, influencer marketing is essentially word-of-mouth marketing gone digital.
Along with influencers who create promotional brand content for their own channels, we’ve also seen the rise of content creators. Influencers focus on building an invested audience that they influence. Content creators, on the other hand, are more focused on producing share-worthy content, which may sit on their own channels or brand pages.
Working with influencers and content creators can give your business a unique advantage over competitors and allow you to reach your target audience. It provides you with a bank of content you can disperse across your marketing channels.
You also align your brand with online figures who your target audience knows and trusts. This increased reach and trust can boost brand awareness and drive traffic (and leads) to your business. The “halo effect” of influencer marketing can also positively influence how people perceive your brand and boost purchasing desire.
Source: Gymshark’s Instagram feed is filled with content by influencers and content creators
Influencer marketing lies at the heart of Gymshark, with their feed overflowing with influencer and content creator-led photos and videos. Gymshark has a strong team of brand ambassadors who actively use social media to promote the company’s apparel, share their unique discount codes, and build hype for the brand.
4) Bring leads back with retargeting
Social media retargeting helps brands reconnect with lost leads, old customers, or transient visitors and reintroduce them to your brand. Retargeting ads focus on social media users who’ve already shown interest in your product or service, rather than blindly targeting a broad audience.
You could hone in on people who previously visited your website or took a certain action, as well as upload customer lists for focused targeting. Some social media advertising platforms will also let you focus on people who’ve previously interacted with your social media content. The ability to segment audiences for retargeting ensures you send your message to the people you’re most interested in (re)engaging.
Social media benefits for business performance
If you want your business to perform well in the long term, you need to keep a pulse on what’s happening within and outside of your business.
Social media is a great tool for monitoring and capturing valuable data that aids present and future business performance, including competitor activity and your audience’s shifting interests. Use social media to your advantage by measuring competitor, customer, and brand performance.
1) Keep an eye on competitors
Brand activity on social media can sway consumers’ decisions when choosing between businesses. By watching your competitors’ activities, the content they share, and what works best for them, you’ll learn what to add to give your social media content a unique edge. Find knowledge gaps your competitors haven’t covered, create a distinct social media campaign, or employ content formats that work well for competitors.
Monitoring competitor activity reveals useful industry insights as well, including current trending topics and which posts generate buzz among your target audience. Also, measure their performance and analyze what does and doesn’t work well for them so you discover how your business can do better.
2) Understand brand sentiment
Businesses can conduct brand sentiment analysis using social media listening tools to evaluate audience and customer perceptions of them. These tools research brand sentiment and gather authentic feedback and reactions from your target audience. Even if consumers don’t directly involve you in a conversation about your company, a quick search of your name on social media will turn up results.
Use these insights to understand your audience, learn how to optimize your brand offerings and messaging, and incorporate the data collected to make improvements.
3) Monitor your brand performance
From engagement rate to follower fluctuation, website traffic referrals, and conversions, you can measure numerous metrics through social media to see whether your online efforts are paying off.
Choose the social media metrics that align best with your business objectives and KPIs. Once you’ve gathered your data, use these insights to make informed decisions about the next steps in your marketing or wider business strategy. Monitoring brand performance is invaluable for learning how to fine-tune your future performance.
Wrapping up — Capitalize on social media for optimal business gains
Social media offers businesses an array of benefits. Whether you want to become closer to your audience, grow your brand and gain more customers, or invest in long-term performance, this marketing avenue can help you get there.
The portal provides a wealth of valuable data about your audience, competitors, and brand. Rely on these insights to hone and polish your strategy so you get the most out of your social media activities. If you’re relatively new to social media, you can jumpstart your content creation by repurposing content from other channels. With strategic implementation, social media can serve as your gateway to deeper customer relationships and a broader audience reach.
Published: January 5, 2015
Updated: February 6, 2023