Nearly 70% of adults in the U.S. have a social media account. Not only that, but the average internet user has up to seven different social media accounts at a time. In other words, there’s no doubt that the modern consumer is plugged into social media.
The natural question that follows, though, is if companies should be plugged in as well. While many companies are actively involved with social media, there are many other leaders who have permanent backburner plans to create social media strategies or who have launched campaigns that have atrophied due to a lack of focus and interest.
Should companies that are struggling to establish a foothold on social media continue to push into their flagging efforts, or should they simply give up the ghost and move on to other online advertising options?
The short answer
If you’re looking for a short answer, the best one is probably something like “Yes, your business should have a social media presence of some sort or another … probably.”
It’s a frustratingly vague answer, for a frustratingly complicated marketing question. See, social media isn’t just a spot to post ads as if it were a major television network. Social media has a variety of different uses within a business including:
- Brand awareness: Social media can help to proliferate your brand’s name and associate it with positive emotions.
- Customer service: Social media has shifted from being a one-way news feed to a two-way channel that encourages customer dialogue and engagement, thus making it an ideal platform to provide quality customer service.
- Sales: Social media can directly promote sales pitches and hooks that direct potential customers into sales funnels.
- Research and development: Social media provides a unique source of information that can allow a company to analyze customer sentiment, opinions, and feedback through interactions on social media.
With so many potential uses, the real question boils down to how - rather than if - social media is being used in your company. In other words, as long as you’re using it the right way, there’s probably a good use for social media in your marketing operations.
For those of you rolling your eyes in frustration at the thought that social media does, in fact, have a good use in your marketing strategy, don’t worry. Just because social media can have an impact on your business doesn’t mean it has to be utilized. After all, one of the cruxes of good business leadership is allocating limited resources amidst a sea of potential uses.
So if you’re wrestling with the decision of whether or not you should use social media in your marketing mix, there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself in order to figure out if it should be a priority.
Consider the costs
First, ask yourself if the cost of social media is worth it for the company. Factors to keep in mind include the size of your company, your budgets, your staff’s capabilities, and the time and manpower required to upkeep even one single social media account. The question of human capital is particularly important, as half-hearted social media efforts can often come across as worse than avoiding them entirely.
Start by sitting down, considering what social media can do for your company, and then compare that to the budgets and manpower you have available.
Have a strategy
If you don’t have a social media strategy, you shouldn’t be using social media in the first place. You can start formulating a strategy by researching what demographics within your customer base heavily use social media. Look for key performance indicators (KPIs), such as site traffic or click-throughs, that are actually important. It’s easy for businesses to be lured into focusing on the wrong metrics when considering their strategies and success on social media.
For instance, if you’re a nursing home, does your social media account thrive on getting flashy likes and shares from a bunch of Millennials and Gen Zers across the world, or does it actually engage with Baby Boomers in your geographic vicinity who are much more likely to be considering your services for their parents?
In addition to setting reasonable KPIs, make sure that your social media doesn’t simply stand on its own. Instead, it should be part of a larger online marketing strategy that includes things like:
- Email marketing
- Pay Per Click ads (when the budget allows)
If your online marketing strategy incorporates your social media into a larger marketing objective, you’ll be much more likely to get quantifiable results from your efforts.
Finally, if you decide to steer into the social marketing lane, make sure you organize yourself and your staff before you do. Take the time to inform everyone of your strategy, make sure everyone is comfortable with what’s expected of them, and look for social media management tools to help streamline your efforts.
To be social, or not to be social
That’s the question, isn’t it? While it’s typically worth dabbling on social media to one degree or another, it’s important that every business goes into social media efforts with a solid strategy, quality KPIs, clearly identified demographics, and an understanding of the finances and manpower involved in doing so.
If you sum up all of these considerations and decide that social media is, indeed, worth the work, you’ll be able to properly take advantage of the unique modern opportunity that social platforms offer big, small, local, regional, and international businesses alike.