Jacqueline Hayes, Chief Marketing Strategist, Crayons & Marketers

Due to the sheer volume of users and potential reach, Facebook has become the largest online advertiser behind Google’s parent company, Alphabet. And they aren’t alone. Big business adoption of social media as a viable marketing channel has given brands unprecedented access to consumers and these platforms are responding. Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snap (chat) have successfully repositioned their companies from mere meetups for family and friends to full out data centers capturing user insights at a granular level to fuel robust data-driven marketing campaigns.

But with smaller budgets and less headcount, does social media make sense for your small business? We say yes, and here are five reasons why:

Generally less expensive

While success on social media requires an investment in time and effort, signing up is usually free. Most also offer user-friendly advertising tools to promote your business. For a fraction of what you’d pay on traditional advertising channels, social media gives advertisers access to broader audiences and the ability to narrow those audiences by key demographics and behavior, thus delivering ads to those most likely to engage. This maximizes your ad dollars and boosts ROI. And because social media is a digital tool, all interactions are quantifiable and can be analyzed for future campaigns.

Improves SEO and increases website traffic

Think of your website as an online storefront that’s open 24 hours a day. As with any store, you want people to find it, come in and look around, then purchase something. Publishing and promoting high-quality content that persuades, informs, or entertains on social media is a great way to hook users and send them back to your website. When users click through to your content, over time, search engines take notice and may reconsider your website’s current position. Using analytics tools like Google Analytics will show you exactly which social sites route traffic to your website and those that don’t. Stick with the ones that work and let the others go.

Drives lead generation efforts

Social media can also be a good source of leads which could translate into more sales down the road. Leads are potential customers who have expressed interest in your company and have given you a way to stay in touch with them.

There are several ways you can generate leads from social media, such as:

  1. Sharing links to gated content: Gated content is content hidden behind a landing page in which users exchange something of value, like an email address, to access to it. You often see these used when promoting e-books, white papers, checklists, tips, etc. Those email addresses go into your CRM or email service platform (i.e. MailChimp) to be nurtured into qualified leads.
  2. Social media advertising: Facebook Leads ads, for example, are lead generation campaigns that attach a contact form to your ad, giving people an easy way to request more information on your product or service. Since they’re Facebook users, Facebook populates many of the fields for them automatically. After the campaign, leads can be downloaded into your CRM.
  3.  Geotargeted Search: Advanced search features for specific keywords can be used to find users talking about a particular topic on social media. So, if you teach kettlebell courses, for example, you can use the advanced search feature in Twitter, to search for people talking about kettlebells in your area and reach out invite them to your next class or offer a discount

Enables market research and customer service

Social media platforms capture a tremendous amount of data on users. From impressions to clicks, social media maps user behavior that can help shape your content marketing strategy. Social media also offers a window into customer conversations. While much-needed privacy policies have been implemented, consumers still choose to share a lot of information on themselves and their behavior on social media. The search feature on the social platforms allows you to monitor these public conversations for opportunities to demonstrate thought leadership or resolve conflicts. You can also manage your brand’s reputation by proactively searching for mentions of your business name and addressing any complaints.

Humanizes your business

People don’t do business with brands. They do business with people. Social media gives consumers unprecedented access to brands and brands to consumers. These conversations make your business more visible and approachable, and consumers more than just dollar signs. However, that low barrier means that businesses must be transparent yet relevant, and nudge people toward a purchase without making them feel like they’re being sold to. Take the time to listen and respond, own up to missteps and celebrate your success with your audience. Show the heart of your brand authentically and your audience will love you for it.

Social Media is one of the many tools available to market your business.

While it’s tempting to only use social media to market your business, it’s only one of the many tools to consider including in your marketing toolkit. As with most tools, social media works best when used consistently alongside other marketing tactics that support and reinforce your overall marketing message.