Social media platforms can play a key role in a firm’s marketing approach – allowing firms to engage directly with customers while offering new ways to directly sell goods. However, it can also be a bit time commitment for companies, with potentially little benefits or even disadvantages for companies. This article explores whether social media is likely to be a valuable addition to your firm or not.
Why are you considering getting into social media?
Before getting into social media it is important to consider why you are getting into the area. Just because your competitors have a social media presence, or it seems to be the in-thing to do, is unlikely to be a good reason to justify the significant time investment in the area. For some businesses having a social media presence can be a significant benefit to the firm and its image. Some of the key ways that social media has the potential to improve your business include:
Attracting new customers
One of the most important users of social media is you are able to use the platforms in order to gain new customers and drive sales. Especially for products that are customer-facing, with interesting features that others would want to share with their friends, social media can be a key way of generating interest in your products and offerings.
Build brand connections with existing customers
Beyond attracting new customers, social media can also help you maintain the interest of prior customers. Prior customers are important for referrals, while also providing opportunities for prior customers to make additional purchases. A common saying is that it is a lot easier to sell to an existing customer than to a new one, and social media helps you generate these repeat sales.
Address customer questions and concerns
One way that social media can be utilized by companies is to provide a platform for individuals to engage directly with the firm. Maybe especially for small companies, who may not have a website, social media can provide options for answering customer questions and directly engaging with your customers.
Convey your company's prominence and size
One of the key benefits of a large social media presence is that it provides social proof for new customers. Accounts with thousands or tens of thousands of followers can help illustrate that your firm is legitimate – a company that customers should be willing to trust for making purchases.
Considerations to make you think twice
Before launching a social media presence it is however worth giving some consideration to some of the challenges associated with social media – challenges that can result in many social media accounts starting under initial fanfare, but quickly becoming dormant and infrequently updated.
The time commitment for developing a social media presence can be far greater than anticipated from the outset. It takes time to develop content to share, engage and reply to users, and monitor the accounts. A key consideration is that this time continues well after the accounts are created – you need to be aware of not only the initial commitment but that you have sufficient interest to maintain the accounts going forward.
Limited content to share
Another difficulty that you may run into when creating a social media presence is finding content to share. Social media is great if you have announcements to share, or products that can be attractively photographed to gain interest, however, if you have few developments to share, and your products or services are not as amenable to attractive photos, then you may quickly run out of content to put on your profile.
Challenge of gaining followers
Another consideration before deciding to establish a social media presence is whether there is an audience that will be interested in following your content. If you are a consumer-facing firm, you may well have an audience that will be interested in your business and its services, and in turn, be able to acquire new followers.
If on the other hand, you are a business-to-business company, there may be substantially fewer users on social media that would be interested in your content. Even if you are able to acquire followers by engaging with other businesses, you may still not gain a following that is actually valuable to your company – unless the accounts that you are interacting with will in some way impact your business, the following that you create may have limited impact on your firm’s ultimate success.
Limited presence does not convey prominence and size
While it is possible that a strong social media presence can enhance the brand and reputation of a company, the reverse can also be true – a small account, without updates for many months or years, can convey detract from the brand of the company. If a potential customer searches for your company, and sees a social media presence of only a handful of followers, with no recent updates, rather than providing the social proof of your firm’s success, the account may illustrate your limited size.
Final thoughts: Does it fit with your overall strategy
The key thing when considering whether having a social media account is of benefit to your business is whether it fits with your firm’s overall strategy. If it is integral to your sales approach or retaining customers, then not only will you see clear benefits from it, but these benefits will justify you putting in the effort to ensure that there is fresh content. If on the other hand, there are few clear reasons for how the social media presence will give benefits to your company, then it seems much likely that the effort to build the social media platform will increase, and in turn, the account is much more likely to become forgotten, more likely to discourage potential customers than bring in new ones.