Did the title feel like clickbait? It did to me as I wrote it, but let’s lay our cards on the table from the offset. I’m not disputing that businesses need social media. They do. They need it now more than ever before and social media has become something of a god send in recent months. Notably so for small independent businesses that have relied on their loyal customers and being discovered in the bias of a hashtag. We’ve seen the likes of Instagram creating clickable tags in their stories, specifically for the support of SMBs.
Social media has become something of a central hub for activity during the outbreak, where people have turned to different networks in search of that thing we called normality. It has built community, driven motivation and given many an escape.
What does that mean for businesses?
In my experience, when working with clients on their digital strategies, when it comes to social media businesses tend to err on the side of the more the better. In reality, when it comes to positioning a business on social media, it’s not about spreading content thinly (and repeatedly) across networks. The key in businesses doing well, is firstly, to understand their audience as well as the personas within it, and then to identify which social media networks offer the most opportunity.
We don’t need to go into statistics here. We know the impact that social media has and the sheer amount of users worldwide, and more importantly, that they’re growing rapidly by the minute.
Let’s take a look (maybe a reminder?) of the benefits of social media, but if you’re savvy enough skip on down on discovering which networks to choose.
What are the benefits of social media for businesses?
A face behind the name (a personality too!)
Get real, honestly. Shake off the facade, stop worrying so much about ‘professionalism’ and be authentic. Whilst I fully understand that’s not viable for some sectors, for so many others it is, and should be embraced. Gone are the days (well, we’re getting there) of laboriously curated feeds, division, a barrier to brand and consumer, and thank goodness we’re finally seeing an end to likes of airbrushing and a powerful movement toward diversity. People inherently want to relate and connect, and they want to do that with businesses, too. The ones they can buy into. The ones that aren’t simply a corporation and personality, and bring their people to the forefront as much as their product or service.
Better perception, brand awareness, brand reputation
Positioning is a big deal and it can often make or break a brand on social media. The spotlights on and people are always listening, so ensuring your brand is genuine and its reputation is retained is essential. Social media can build brand awareness quickly (organically and through #ads) and with it reputation. One of my favourite businesses to have used social media for perception, awareness and reputation in Batoko. I was served an ad on Instagram back in 2018 and immediately bought into their humble beginnings, with their slow and considered approach as a micro-business.
Brand recall, eh?
Part of the beauty of social media is consistent engagement and always being at the forefront of a consumer’s mind. The amount of time a user spends on social media every day is remarkable and placing a business within their feed (organically, found or paid) helps associate a brand to a memory and establish brand recall. We do this with email marketing and social media is part and parcel to the marketing full for recognition.
A social presence invariably creates community as long as the effort is made to engage with them. It can be a big undertaking for some businesses to keep up with their community, but it’s well worth the extra effort and time to create a solid relationship between brand and consumer. A thriving following builds reputation, and encourages word of mouth.
Keeping ahead (or at least up with) the competition
So many businesses don’t have social media and so many do but don’t take advantage of the benefits that it has to offer. Regularly updating social networks with content and updates brings us back to the all important brand recall and awareness. You don’t necessarily have to be doing what your competitors are, but you need to be doing something.
How do I know which social media networks to use for my business?
When working with clients on their digital strategies, we always dig deep into their audience to understand exactly who they are. There’s usually more than one persona within it, too, and so, we hone in on the different demographics, behaviours, motives, needs, aspirations and how they engage digitally. That allows for a great insight into who a brand is talking to and where exactly to find themselves heard and seen to form a connection with their consumers.
Generally speaking, I’ve reviewed some of the core social networks I work on with clients daily, to give a little insight into how they’re perceived—in terms of usage—for businesses.
Facebook has the biggest touch point when it comes to social networks, with the largest range of demographics who can be reached through the platform. It’s one of the ‘go-to’ trust points for many individuals looking for honest reviews and engaging content, to help them both buy into a brand and see that it’s supporting their ethos, and their interests.
Generally, you’ll have an audience of 25-65+ on Facebook who expect content to be a combination of a visual first approach and supporting interest with knowledge and advice, too.
Instagram paves the way for brands to create an entire aesthetic: an aspiration, an ethos, and can become something of a ‘guide book’ for consumers to follow. A place where they can dip into a world of interest and inspiration. Whilst Instagram receives some stick for ‘reality vs instagram’, it’s an opportunity for brands to be real and maintain authenticity.
Generally, a business will be able to reach audiences from 13-45+ on Instagram with a visual first approach.
Twitter is used for brand conversation and tends to steer away from the visual first approach seen on the likes of Facebook and Instagram. On average, only 46% of Twitter users log on at least once per day – that cuts a following down by half. Statistics also show that people spend just a single minute on Twitter a day with the average Tweet having a lifespan of only 18 minutes. That means it can be difficult to maintain a Twitter profile as a business and in most cases, Twitter is used as a means of customer support and sharing of advice.
Of course there’s LinkedIn but that’s predominately used for B2B but many of the same rules apply. You’ll often see the most engaged posts are more authentic and discuss real life “in the business world”. YouTube is a source of video content that’s great for businesses that can regularly update and grow subscribers. Then there’s the newcomers such as TikTok, of which, I suspect will have a similar surge in popularity like SnapChat to only fall at the wayside.
To conclude, I’m absolutely in agreement with businesses and brands having social media to drive connection, authenticity and community amongst their consumers. The key is where that connection is developed and on what network; to not become more noise and instead a welcome interruption.