Business-Technology-Social-MediaLike it or not, social media has become a viable marketing tool in today’s day and age. In the past, marketing consisted of businesses “showing up” where their customers were (print ads, billboards, product demonstration booths); today, marketing consists of offering customers unique opportunities to relate to your brand and browse your product and service offerings online. While the location has certainly changed, the principle of marketing has stayed the same. Rather than meeting customers at brick-and-mortar establishments, businesses are turning to the Internet to foster key communications and influence prospective customers. Websites are now a must for any business, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to your online success, and social media is the “place to be” if you wish to create memorable experiences with your customers.

Even knowing that their customers are online, many businesses are still hesitant to use social media for marketing purposes. Some consider it a waste of time while others simply don’t understand the value it can bring to your marketing efforts. In an effort to help businesses understand the impact of social media on businesses, Social Media Examiner performed a study to see how businesses are using social media and how it is impacted their business. Below are a few key takeaways from the study:

  • The more time businesses spend using social media, the greater the impact. Many businesses assume that time spent on social media is a waste of time, resources, and personnel. According to the study, this belief could not be further from the truth. Of the businesses studied, the companies who spent more time on social media (20 hours plus) saw more benefits than companies who only delegated a few hours a week to the task. Besides the obvious company exposure and increase in web traffic, those companies saw an increase in sales, partnership growth, and improvement in rankings.
  • Social media isn’t just for your current customers. While social media can be a good avenue to connect with your current customers, it’s just as effective in influencing prospective customers. In fact, according to the Social Media Examiner study, 74% of the businesses who dedicated 40 hours or more to social media earned new business through their social media efforts. Even if you can’t dedicate that much time to your social media marketing, consider setting aside at least a few hours a week. Those few hours can really make all the difference!
  • Posting original content on your social media sites is critical to your success. Your content matters, so choose what you post on social media wisely. Sure, sharing a few useful articles that pertain to your business or industry and inform customers on trends is always a good idea, but make sure you use original content as well. Your customers want to hear from you, not somebody else.
  • Use the Big Three. While different businesses have different social media preferences and favorite spots for interacting with their customers, you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not utilizing the Big Three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Of the three, Facebook is the most favorable and most common, followed closely by Twitter and then LinkedIn.
  • Pair social media and analytics. Many business software solutions now days have the capability to track your social media interaction and provide critical analytics on your activity. Customer relationship management (CRM) software even goes as far as storing your interactions with customers on social media to give you a more thorough picture of your customer relationships. Utilize your software as much as you can, for it can uncover crucial findings about your social media efforts and activity.

If you are not currently using social media, it’s time to reconsider your position. While it cannot replace your current marketing efforts, it can add significantly to the efforts you are already making. Stay tuned for more helpful tips on using social media to develop high-quality relationships with your customers and increase your sales.