Social media is a must for businesses in 2020. No matter how traditional your business is, it’s impossible to ignore the nearly 3.5 billion social media users active globally – of which 39 million are in the UK.
Most business owners understand the importance of having an online presence. Today the most effective strategies extend beyond just developing a website. There are over 60 million business pages active on Facebook alone, but despite this a 2018 study from the Office for National Statistics found that just 60% of UK businesses were using social media.
Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have now turned their attention to online sales channels and marketing techniques. But how can businesses cut through the noise and reach their customers on the internet?
Why your business needs social media
Having a ‘social media presence’ is something that is often touted as a business essential, but without substance it risks becoming just another marketing buzzword. In truth, developing a social media strategy can be just as important as any other marketing activity that a business might conduct.
Twitter hashtags, Facebook followers and LinkedIn connections all seem important, but there’s no need to achieve the perfect balance at the first time of trying. Instead, it’s better to get stuck in and learn from the process. For those who still need convincing, here are just some of the many reasons why investing in social media is a valuable business activity:
Getting your name out there
Before you can make a sale or convince a customer to shop with you, they need to know about your business. Visibility is one of the major advantages of social media, as your business will be able to reach a much wider demographic of potential customers than would otherwise be the case. Social media has no borders either, so you could grow your international following and find customers abroad.
With the public spending so much time online, it can make sense to offer support services via the easily accessible medium of social media. This can not only make getting help more convenient for your customers, but also add a more human element that could bring them even closer to your brand. Communicating online feels natural to so many of us today, so by introducing an online support function you could make your customers more comfortable.
Communicating with your audience outside of making a sale brings a degree of authenticity to your brand and could inspire customers to become more loyal. Connecting with your customers on a regular basis makes them feel included in whatever your brand is up to at the time. By creating a community rather than just a body of buyers, you could generate more sales but also learn more about your customers’ preferences – creating opportunities to diversify and sell more.
How to create a social media strategy
Although it might have become a marketing cliché, social media is a crucial channel for promoting your business. Of course, finding your way with social media is an ongoing process but it would be a mistake to tackle the challenge without a plan.
Choosing your platforms
Deciding where to go online is tough. With so many social networks available, it can be tempting to open a profile on as many sites as you can find – but isn’t always the best idea. Whether any given social network will synergise with your business depends on what you’re aiming for with your marketing strategy, but most businesses find themselves starting off with the basics:
- Facebook – the biggest social media site on the block, with over 2 billion monthly annual users.
- Twitter – a popular social media site with 335 million monthly annual users, Twitter provides a real-time feed of information.
- Instagram – a creative photo-sharing app, with 1 billion monthly annual users.
- LinkedIn – the ‘professional’ network, LinkedIn is a great place for businesses to build an online presence with 294 million annual monthly users.
Set measurable goals
Working out what you want from social media is important as it directs your focus towards key metrics. Deciding on your goals doesn’t have to just mean reaching a certain number of likes or follows and could instead concentrate on driving traffic to your website or increasing your conversion rate. Whatever you decide, keep tabs on it and constantly refine your strategy.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Having a social media presence is one thing, but developing an effective content strategy is another altogether. Content is what will encourage potential customers to check out your business, and the fact that 80% of companies with over 1,000 employees stands testament to the fact that content works and all businesses could benefit from the engagement it creates.
How to close online sales
Having a strong social media presence is one thing, but it shouldn’t just be a token marketing activity and it would be a waste not to use your following to your advantage. Businesses that see the most success from their social media channels are those that can make conversions and sales out of their followers. To tackle this effectively, you’ll need to invest not only in your online profiles but your eCommerce infrastructure.
How you design your website will depend on your sector, but no matter what you do you could always benefit from a workable online payment solution. One company offering a solution to this challenge is UTP Group, who not only offer a full range of physical Ingenico card machines but also virtual terminals and eCommerce payment gateways to facilitate website payments. If customers are already convinced by your product, the last thing you want is to drive them away with a poor payment solution so ensure that your social media efforts aren’t wasted by outdated infrastructure.
From an accessible website to a watertight online payment solution, making your business website look good and work well is the only way to ensure that people clicking through from your social media channels make a purchase.