Our lives have moved online, with a recorded 59% of the world’s population being active internet users as of April 2020 (Statista, 2020). According to Ciprian (2013), businesses should look at social media sites that have allowed them to grow, either in sales or visibility.
Before the age of technology boomed, advertising your business was easily done via newspaper or print advertisements. Looking around now, there are hardly any print copies of newspapers or magazines for people to purchase and read. Nowadays, most people opt to subscribe to a news or magazine channel where a fixed fee is paid and the document is sent straight via email.
The times we are living have forced even those who were not comfortable with using social media to do so. With restrictions on our usual day to day movement and the risk of the COVID-19, most people have been working from home. Meetings cannot be held in the board rooms anymore, lunch cannot be taken in the canteen and most importantly, the chances of running into an advertisement on a billboard have decreased significantly. Once the pandemic is “over”, we should not expect to go back to business as usual before the pandemic took over the world but rather embrace this new way of doing business and find ways to thrive in it.
Benefits of using social media for your business
Ciprian (2013), highlighted some critical reasons for the importance of social media use in any situation. Below are some of the key points that you may take with you and begin to think largely about:
- Improved search engine rankings - Search engine optimisation is very important for achieving higher page rankings and obtaining traffic to your business website. While social media doesn't directly increase search engine rankings, Social Media Examiner states that more than 58% of marketers who have been using social media for one year or longer still see improved search engine rankings. Being able to rank in the top positions for your keywords will revolutionize your traffic and continue to generate positive results for your business. If your business website isn't ranked towards the top of search engine results, you should probably adjust your search engine optimisation strategy. To give the business the best chance of ranking better through social media, create high-quality content that integrates your targeted keywords. Content such as blogs, infographics, case studies, business information, and employee photos will make your business social media profile intriguing and credible. Once you begin posting quality content, you'll begin to build a social media community where followers will "like" and "share" your content. Most importantly, it gives you more opportunities to get in front of industry influencers who will write about your business and provide links back - which will help to directly increase search engine rankings (Blue Fountain Media, 2021).
- Effective branding – Social media is a great tool for small businesses. Perhaps, they have not been around for as long as large corporations so marketing the brand is crucial for its growth and exposure. In a survey conducted by Ciprian (2013), 50% of customers purchased goods and services based on the reviews they saw online. This explains why it is crucial to have a role in the organisation for someone who engages with people online. The more personal and responsive a business is, the more people may want to carry on interacting with that business. Each positive interaction may push a customer to recommend others to use the services or purchase the goods.
- Cheaper with more exposure – Going the online route to expose your business is a faster and cheaper way to reach thousands of people in a shorter space of time than using print advertisements. In 2010, Forbes reported that 94% of corporates were on social media and 85% said this increased their exposure (Forbes, 2010). How often have you posted some business content with almost instant responses from online users? This is incomparable with using a newspaper, for example, to market your business or advertise a job. For clarification, this does not mean that using print advertisements is not useful anymore, it is! Not everyone is on social media so using both forms will reach the maximum amount of people possible. To reach the maximum number of followers these days, you can use Instagram. If you don't have enough time to build IG followers, you can purchase an Instagram account and get some more step-by-step.
- Social media enables direct customer interaction – As mentioned above, direct customer interaction is important. In 2013, 53% of marketers were using a two-way marketing approach with customers online and in that year, there were over 1,27 billion social media users. Seven years later, that number has only increased significantly.
One effective way to leverage the power of direct customer interaction on social media is through social selling, which involves using social media platforms to engage with potential customers and drive sales.
What can you do to increase your visibility?
Trier (2018), provides some useful and practical ways that businesses can take advantage of to be seen on social media. They are provided below:
- Ensure that every social media platform that the organisation has signed up with is visible on the company’s website. When traffic is driven to the websites, some people may decide to go through the different products or services offered. It is important to have the icons readily accessible on each page they land on.
- Have all employees include the company’s social media handles in their email signatures. The most common way of interacting with clients and suppliers is via email. Whenever someone opens an email from your business, they must be able to see the social media handles. Although they may not be inclined to open them in the beginning, a constant reminder every time they open emails from your business may nudge them to go and have a look. Now think of how many people open emails from your business daily. The growth opportunities are high.
- Fully utilise social media platforms. Whenever there is an opportunity to interact or market the brand, it should be taken.
- All employees should have a LinkedIn profile which is strategically structured to represent the brand well through its employees.
- Include your Twitter or other social site handles on your business cards. Twitter is a quick way to see what is happening in the world of work and with your business. It is easy to create polls and surveys that people can respond to. With this simple task, the business can use the data collected to improve its functioning.
- Use hashtags in your posts. Most social media platforms use an algorithm that picks up on the most used words on the site. When using hashtags that are in line with those words, your search appearances increase and the chance of being recognised and reached out to increases as well.
Is it too late to go online?
It is never too late to go online. Statista (2020) recorded an estimated 3.08 billion social media users in the world for the year 2020. It has projected an increase to 3.78 billion users in the year 2021, with a growth of 350 million users by the year 2023. This is an average growth of one million users each year. It is never too late to go online because the community is only growing and every business has a market of people who will positively respond to the type of business conducted.
Below is a table extracted from Statista (2021) with the projected online users from 2017 – 2025. Bear in mind that these figures were calculated before the pandemic and working from home was an option. The numbers may be looking higher today than they did a year ago.
Number of social network users worldwide from 2017 to 2025 (in billions)
Statista (20Sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook have become major players in the world of business. Each platform should be fully utilised to grow the business. Imagine the number of people you can reach without having to pay much. LinkedIn is a fast-growing platform that has connected businesses and job seekers globally. To date, the site has an estimated 500 million users which is growing every day.
It is never too late to start a page for your business on social media. A large number of people are joining every day. Many people are sharing captivating content that they come across. Let your business be caught in it. There are endless opportunities on the internet and many ways to get to your target market. Remember, our lives are going more and more into the cloud and in databases, take the time today to consider your visibility on social media and how to improve it.
Thandeka Madziwanyika is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or cell number +263 78 318 0936 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com