Is Social Media Right for Your Business?

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It’s no secret that a lot of entrepreneurs try to avoid dealing with social media. Some less tech-savvy business owners find it intimidating and just aren’t sure how to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter “correctly.”  Others just see social media as a distraction that doesn’t have any real relevance to their work. But for many, social media is one of the most effective ways to build their audience and grow their business. There is a ton of statistical data that supports this. For instance, 90% of all marketers claim that social media marketing has increased their business exposure, and more than half of marketers who used social media for their business saw an increase in sales within two years. Sure, for some people social media is just a way to keep in touch with friends and family or share funny cat videos, but when used effectively it is a powerful marketing tool, and ignoring its potential is a sure way to miss out on prospective customers and get left behind by your competitors.

One of the most obvious benefits of adding social media to your marketing is that it creates the opportunity to improve brand awareness and enhances SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A good business owner knows the importance of getting your name out there, but if the only place that anyone is talking about your business is your company website, the chances of anyone finding you on their own is fairly slim. The larger your online presence is, the more likely your business will come up in online search results and the more likely you are to be found by potential customers.

Even if the customers aren’t coming to you, social media offers opportunities for you to find them. While some users limit their online interactions with close friends and family, many build their own online communities based on their needs and interests. Most social media sites also serve as search engines of sorts, allowing users to find the content they are interested in. In turn, business owners can find their ideal clients by searching through related hashtags and discovering relevant online communities.

Once you have found your audience, social media also allows you to more effectively engage with them and build brand loyalty. Businesses are always looking for ways to figure out what their customers want, but social media speeds up the process by creating a direct line between companies and consumers. It removes some of the guesswork and allows entrepreneurs to speak directly to their audience, closing the gap and building a personal rapport, which is increasingly important for developing a successful brand: while some might see the businesses they frequent as just being service providers, many customers develop a close personal connection to the brands they love most, often tying them to their very identity. A successful business aims to be more than just a one-time service that a customer gives money to, they strive to become a part of their lives. Providing an excellent service or product will make a customer happy, but making that personal connection is how you create the repeat customers, the vocal supporters, the people who will help your business reach new heights.

And once you’ve found that loyal audience and built a close connection with your customers, you’ll find that you’ve done so without breaking the bank. Perhaps the best thing about social media marketing is that it’s shockingly cost-effective given all of its potential benefits. The life of an entrepreneur often means you have to spend money to make money, but all you need to build an online following is a free account on your platform of choice, an internet connection, and some time. Not every business owner is going to create a viral sensation, but social media offers growth potential that expensive advertising campaigns cannot, and basically for free. Granted, there IS money to spend in social media if you want to: some businesses hire social media assistants or use automation software to manage their accounts, and several social media platforms offer premium features or allow businesses to purchase on-site advertising. But while these things help, they aren’t necessary to be successful, making social media one of the few methods for business growth that doesn’t come with a price tag attached.

Obviously not every social media platform is going to be useful for your business, as different sites tend to attract different demographics and age groups. For instance, Twitter’s largest age bracket falls between 18-29 years old. As such, if you are targeting an older and more professional crowd, you might be better off using LinkedIn instead. But no matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling to, there is a social media platform that can serve your needs. It is simply a matter of choosing the right one and learning how to use it effectively.

For find out which social media platform is best for your business and learn how to use social media to grow your business, attend one of the upcoming classes from FUSE Business Training, or contact Barbara Caine for a one-on-one consultation.

Mark Buckner

Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.