The benefits of social media to small businesses

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Engaging in social media can be a key way of growing your business. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another platform, social media allows your firm to reach new customers, and further your engagement with existing ones. This article explores some of the key benefits of maintaining a social media presence for your business.

Ways small businesses can communicate on social media

Posts by the company

One of the primary ways of using social media as a business is to establish an account on key platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and post content as your business to the sites. Especially if you already have some brand awareness, your most loyal customers (or at least initially family and friends) may begin to follow you, and in turn, gradually build up awareness of your profile and the products that you sell.

Posting directly as your company can be a free way to create awareness, however, all platforms will encourage you to use paid advertising to increase the reach of your posts. Rates will vary quite substantially depending on your targeting criteria, although as an initial ball-park estimate, you can expect each view of your post to cost around 1 cent, at least when targeted at US customers (that is, a cost per thousand impressions – referred to as CPM – of around $3-$10 for the US market is relatively typical across platforms). It is important to keep track of your costs here – they can mount up quickly – and if you go down this route, to carefully monitor the success, to ensure that any money that you spend yields benefits.

Posts by your customers

Another way you can benefit from social media is posts by your customers. Word of mouth advertising can be a particularly effective way of increasing awareness of your brand, and posts by customers sharing their experiences with your products are can substantially drive interest in your company.

Of course, while posts about your company’s products may useful, getting customers to post about your products is not easy. By posting engaging content on your company’s social media accounts, you may be able to develop a following that shares your content (potentially with their own positive comments).

Paid posts by influencers

A final way in which firms engage users via social media is via paid posts by influencers. A whole industry has formed where ‘mini-celebrities’ have been able to develop a following and post promotional content as part of the posts that they share. Influencer endorsements are not necessarily cheap though – those celebrities with a particularly large following can charge tens of thousands of dollars per post – but if you are a larger business, and particularly one selling clothing or similar products – influencer endorsements may be something to consider.

Key objectives of social media posts

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.

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