Social media communicates, structures, streamlines, and automates your business in a way no other tool has ever done. Businesses may have looked at social media in the past as a fad or consumer network with little business value. Many of the early adopters tried to use it as just a broadcast network but since their social media audience was not as large as the mass marketing audiences they were used to paying to access, they had a hard time proving ROI for it and many decided the time vs reward were not worth it. Now we are getting to the stage where the value is becoming apparent and companies are understanding the bigger picture of social media.
Organizations are finally beginning to realize what a powerhouse it can be for both business growth and revenue as well as the myriad of other benefits that social media provides at no real scalable cost. Society has also embraced it as a communication tool and the time has come when you can no longer afford to ignore it. Since buying and selling goods and services are key parts of our society as well as communication, a major change in society usually has business implications as well. Just because businesses are using social media doesn’t mean they understand the full value. Here are 4 key areas of business that social media can add huge value to:
1. Research – Never before have we had such insight into customers as we have with social media. Most of the information is readily available and free to access. In the past companies would have had to do research, focus groups, and surveys which cost money and took a long time to pull together. An eight person focus group could cost $6,000 for a 10 minute session. Now this information can be had in minutes instead of months and at very little cost. This information is also way more targeted than anything done in the past. Business research on individuals and groups can be done in-house and cross department in real-time. You can also build very segmented audiences which you can then market to over and over again without paying to talk to them each time as in traditional marketing.
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2. Marketing – Social media is a marketing dream machine. With so many tools to help design multimedia messaging, there are limitless possibilities for the average business or marketer to build amazing marketing. When you think of how many 3rd party tools there are to create great graphics, now a small business owner can produce award winning marketing collateral in minutes with very little skill. The same goes for video production, and just about any form of content. There is more access to professional marketing assets to businesses at little to no cost that there ever has been in history. Most of it is free and literally at your fingertips.
A huge cost in traditional marketing is distribution. After you create amazing marketing you have to get it in front of as many targeted eyeballs as possible. In the old models that meant variable costs that scaled with reach. Social media allows you to organically increase the reach of your content with tactics and even the possibility that you can scale reach with viral content and shares. This only existed in PR when content was newsworthy on a larger scale. Now your content can move through a whole community of targeted prospects at scale without additional costs.
Analytics have become something that anyone in the business has access to. Traditional marketing was vague and the results were hard to measure. Sentiment analysis, real-time feedback and engagement now can let you change strategies mid-campaign. The real-time nature of this also allows you to test marketing in a way that wouldn’t happen in the long and expensive process of traditional marketing. If you wanted to run two ads in a magazine or TV it would cost a lot of money. Now you can post two variations on social media and get real-time numbers as to which was more effective 30 years ago that would be a dream. When you add that you couldn’t really engage with most traditional marketing, social media itself is creating data and allows you a channel for getting crowdsourced feedback from both prospects and customers.
3. Transacting – Let’s get down to the nitty gritty ROI. Worldwide revenue of e-commerce in 2016 amounted to almost 1.9 Trillion USD (Statista). Social media is now creating social commerceas users can buy things in the social platforms themselves. Social commerce allows you to make a sale without even visiting your website let alone your physical store. This takes sales into conversations and keeps products and services top of mind while promoting shares and referrals. With the rise of mobile, your customers are now able to buy from you and experience your brand at any time in any location. This massively increased purchase time exposure and allows every business large and small to transact around the clock and without the scaled costs of employees and overhead.
- US e-commerce sales reached $396 billion in 2016 – and are predicted to grow to a massive 684 billion by 2020. (Source: Statista – e-commerce sales forecast)
- China’s eCommerce growth will massively outstrip the US, with $1 trillion in eCommerce revenue in 2016, growing to 2 trillion by 2019. (Source: Atlas)
- 31% of Chinese WeChat users made a purchase through WeChat in 2016 – Double the rate of 2015. China is leading the way with the Chatbot revolution (Source: McKinsey’s 2016 China Digital Consumer Survey Report)
- 55% of US Pinterest users use it for finding products (Source: KPCB Internet Trends)
4. Customer Relationship Management – Following up with, tracking, and communicating with past customers and your addressable market was not easy in the past or cheap. Social media has essentially created free management platforms for maintaining customer and prospect communication. Scheduling tools allow you to communicate with market segments or individuals. This facilitates targeted messaging and personalization like never before. It also lives in a real-time space and context that can further be utilized for more results. Content curation can incubate prospects and keep a business top of mind without making everything promotional. This builds trust and allows for more touchpoints throughout the year and massive value adds from the brands to the customers and prospects.
Bottom line is social media is an absolute business powerhouse if you know how to use it. Don’t fall behind the curve and be the last one to the party. There are still great competitive advantages to be had because even if your competition is using social media, they are likely using it wrong. These are just a handful of the key business values that social media has. Get started today implementing social into your business strategy and start squeezing the value out of it and into your revenue stream. Need help, contact us. I would also love to hear your thoughts, comments, and experiences using social media for business below in the comments.
Here is a short 10 min video where we dig into this topic a bit more: