Just how important is social media for businesses?
Business

Just how important is social media for businesses?

Brought to you by Jamie from The Social Family.

If your business isn’t active on social media, you’re missing out on some huge growth opportunities. Where social media platforms were once sharing platforms for web users, they’re now to multi-use tools for businesses of all sizes, with huge benefits to be won and challenges to overcome. From Twitter to Instagram, the world can instantaneously share their opinions, feelings and experiences. But what makes it so important to profit-making organisations?

A truly global audience

Rewind a few decades and advertising budgets went on TV, print, and sometimes radio, creating a marketing mix that relied on multiple sources reaching far and wide to try and target a specific customer base – or a more general socio-economic group. The trouble with these forms of advertising in 2018 is that they’re sometimes prohibitively expensive. On top of the cost, they don’t reach as far as they used to with magazine and newspaper sales at an all time low, and most importantly, not as many people are watching TV the traditional way. From advert-free Netflix to catch up TV options where the ads can be (and most certainly are) skipped, the two-minute commercial break just doesn’t have the hold that it used to.

But the void left by advertising spend’s decline on the small screen is being filled on the smaller screen – specifically, on social media. Social networks enable businesses to reach a massive amount of people – there are a combined 1.1 billion monthly users across both platforms – across a more diverse set of interest areas. Unlike TV adverts that need to be timed to coincide with primetime or highly-viewed shows, social media advertising can be put in front of viewers or readers 24 hours a day, and alongside any post imaginable.

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Facebook is the dominant force in terms of users, but Twitter can often provide a deeper insight – especially for consumer-facing organisations that want to generate a conversation to build engagement as well as sales.

Businesses can create their own branded page or account on the majority of social media platforms, too. Acting as a huge, dynamic billboard that anyone can access at any time, this marketing space can be something of a hub for current and prospective customers, and is a very easy way of sharing new messages and capturing data.

This level of exposure is particularly important for online businesses, who may not have the natural exposure that physical businesses such as high street retailers. Online-only gambling companies which provide their customers with everything from digital casino gaming to sports bet ting, can really benefit from the leverage provided by marketing on social media in several ways.

As well as the improved advertising space and round the clock opportunities to reach people, social media is fantastic for businesses who are just entering the market and trying to get a foothold. With plenty of true organic growth thanks to users sharing something new that they like the look of, there’s also the chance that content could end up going viral if it’s appealing, amazing or different enough.

Take Rose Slots, which launched into the online gambling sector relatively recently. Standing out from other online slots providers, Rose Slots stands out with a friendlier form of customer service. Part of that customer service takes place on Facebook and Twitter, where it’s gaining exposure to existing and potential customers. Take a look at its Facebook and Twitter pages and you’ll see how it actively promotes its slot games across both channels.

This kind of exposure is great for a new business like Rose Slots, a UK slots website, entering a competitive industry. Its social media platforms act as both as advertising space and as a feedback point for advertising decision makers who can gain an insight into the impact of their social media campaign. Social media is the great equaliser among businesses, as with the right strategy, content and timing, everyone stands an equal chance of getting their brand seen by their target audience.

The future of customer service

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If you had an issue with a product or service before the days of Facebook and Twitter, then a strongly worded letter or email would need to be sent to the provider, and an answer would arrive at some point in the future when the organisation got around to dealing with it. Today, if customers aren’t satisfied with a product or service, they let businesses know on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even LinkedIn.

With Twitter users in particular able to reference their service provider with a simple hashtag, the issue or complaint can be shared with millions of potential customers, forcing the business to react to ‘negative press’ generated by aggrieved customers.

In some complaints departments, there are entire job roles dedicated to resolving social media complaints, showing how serious a complaint is taken when everyone can see how a business treats its customers in the public domain. For example, at supermarkets like Tesco, Aldi and Sainsburys, there are time targets for customer service employees dictating how quickly complaints need to be reacted to on social media. The days of the complaint letter may be limited, with much faster reactions for complaints posted where everyone can see them. 

Market research and analysis

Customers venting their fury on Twitter may sound like a problem, but it’s actually a huge opportunity for businesses to get an insight into what their users actually want and need. Instead of paying large amounts of money for qualitative or quantitative market research data, businesses have access to both – they just need to take the time to analyse the data.

As well as the number of likes and followers that act as raw numbers for people declaring their interest in products and services without displaying true commitment, the comments, posts, and shares carried out by customers are where the real opportunity lies. From feedback on products to suggestions for improvements, finding more about what your customers are saying has actually never been easier, and is for many businesses the biggest advantage of a social media presence.

Despite plenty of challenges from disgruntled users and of course the costs associated with managing and collating social media comments and feedback, the raw data that exists out there is actually becoming much easier to analyse. Big names like Google and Facebook have created their very own analytics tool suites that allow businesses to read their social media data more easily, and many agencies supporting them.

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With these tools, and a correct strategy when it comes to acting on recommendations, gauging reactions on social media and reacting to them will only become easier.