The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Your Business
The thought of it might make you cringe. Do I have to be active on social media to promote my business? Isn’t that what my website is for? But, not so fast. Before you dismiss social media marketing for your business, it’s important to understand its reach and potential. Done well, social media can help boost your website traffic and brand awareness, while engaging your audience and generating valuable leads.
We’re here to break down social media marketing, including the high-level basics, best practices, and how you can fit it into your business operations, even if you’re reluctant.
What is Social Media Marketing?
This dynamic marketing tactic uses multiple media channels to engage with an audience. Through platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, X, Threads, and TikTok, companies can reach a broad audience with their messages. While some organizations use social platforms to share operational information (store hours, how to make returns, product information, etc.), most businesses use them in one of three ways.
First, social media is used for brand building and awareness. As you share information or insight that your audience values, you build a relationship and start to gain their trust. Once an audience trusts you or your company, you have a far greater ability to sell your products or services down the road.
Second, many companies are using social media marketing to invite conversation with their audience. By engaging potential clients in conversation, they encourage them to get to know their company in a new way.
Finally, social media marketing can be used to drive sales, either directly (on the platform) or as traffic to your website. By showcasing products or services, or promoting sales or special deals, you can quickly generate sales. Of course, selling products before you have a relationship with your audience can be tricky to do.
Just as there are best practices for other online strategies, such as website structure or Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so too, are there guideposts for doing social media marketing well. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind for social media marketing:
- Outline your goals – When you first experiment with social media, it helps to have a plan. Rather than jump into the deep end, creating content across multiple platforms, be clear about your overall objectives. Do you plan to reach 1,000 followers or subscribers within the month or year? Do you want to boost website traffic by 10% or more?
Having clear, measurable objectives, ideally with timelines attached, can help you aim toward a specific target. Clear goals can also help you isolate what is working and what could be tweaked.
- Speak to your audience – Of course, part of reaching your audience is speaking their language. If you are selling hair products to teens, you will have an entirely different approach—including language and messaging—than if you are selling services to a 40+ crowd.
While you match your branding voice to your audience, be aware that it may need to be slightly different, based on the platforms you plan to use. See how your competitors are adjusting their language on each platform. Ideally, you want to speak to your audience in a tone that matches your branding, with awareness of the platform it sits upon.
- Start small – When you first dip your toe into the social media pool, it’s best to go slow. Pick one or two platforms as your starting point. Study what your competitors are doing and consider how you can move toward your overall goals while helping your content stand out.
Once you are comfortable on one or two platforms, you can expand to others. Spend some time on each platform to understand the vibe and learn about protocols. Over time, you’re likely to see how and where your business will fit best.
- Use the value-value-ask principle – Most users don’t want to be sold products or services over and over. For this reason, it’s important to offer your audience value (more than once) before you make your ask. This way, you will build trust and community before inviting them to buy your products or services.
For example, a psychologist specializing in the enneagram might first offer information about each personality type before mentioning that they offer one-on-one counseling sessions that focus on enneagram principles.
- Experiment with multiple forms of media – Of course, social media includes more than text posts alone. To reach your audience, you may need to use images and/or video, offering a more robust experience for your viewers.
Many business owners combine media formats when posting on socials. They may promote a video they’ve made on YouTube, for example, with simple text post on other platforms. Similarly, they may promote their Instagram or Threads feed within a YouTube video.
- Build a calendar – To keep things simple, it’s best to have a plan for your social media marketing. Build a calendar to help you schedule your posts. While some companies prefer to plan one month at a time, others feel comfortable planning three to six months ahead.
Of course, the risk of planning too far ahead is that your content will feel off-topic or behind current trends. Whichever approach fits your business best, consider automating the process of posting with a tool like Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule social media posts ahead of time.
If you’re new to social media marketing, there is plenty to learn. It takes planning, creative energy, patience, and persistence to get it right. You may wonder if the work involved will eventually pay off with results you can measure.
The only way to find out is to give social media marketing an honest effort. Once you decide to put in the research, meet your audience where they are, and give yourself enough time to experiment with different platforms, you’ll be in a good position to understand what works and where you can pivot.
Important Enough to Make the Effort
Even with the long list of things to do, social media marketing is worth the effort. While it might be tempting to stay on the sidelines, doing so could damage your business. Not only will it be harder for your audience to find you, but you also risk being left behind by competitors, who are willing to make the effort.
Done well, social media marketing can elevate your brand quickly. Perhaps more important, it offers opportunities to engage with your customers in ways not possible in the past. As you experiment with posts that inform, engage, and/or entertain, you’ll collect data about what kind of posts and schedule work best for your audience.
As you experiment with social media, be sure to measure your success, so you know which media, and which platforms, work best for you.
Get Support Where You Need It
As a business owner or manager, you know you can’t do everything on your own. While you can automate some aspects of your social media marketing, you may find it tedious to create and edit posts, not to mention the time it takes to measure their impact.
Thankfully, you can find reliable support for your social media marketing efforts. As with any vendor relationship, it’s important to find a company you trust to take on this important set of tasks. Rather than redirecting internal resources toward creating and scheduling content, you can let the experts take this off your plate.