As times have progressed, our knowledge and use of technology has increased dramatically. Social media in particular has been one of the largest technological advancements because it allows people from all over the globe to connect, making the world seem a little smaller. Facebook was the pioneer of the everlasting ability to digitally socialize that we still see today, along with other popular platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. But the question is: How valuable is social media in business?
Basics of Social Media
Social media is technology that allows people to share ideas and information quickly and in real time. There is a wide variety of social media on websites and apps. Some are created for social networking in business like LinkedIn, while others are made to share videos and pictures like TikTok and Instagram.
Social media has provided an innovative way to virtually communicate with people all over the world about a broad variety of topics with very few limitations and censorship. While a few platforms have some limitations like removing offensive posts with nudity and/or inappropriate language, there is still way more freedom of speech on social media than in newspapers, radio stations, and television channels.
Anyone who can access the Internet can create an account on social media, share anything and everything they want, and reach anyone and everyone that stumbles onto their account.
Hashtags are also a useful tool that group content together based on topic and connect users with other users who post similar content.
Types of Social Media
Social networks allow users to connect and share thoughts, ideas, and content with other users who, in most cases, share common interests.
Examples: Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn
Media networks allow users to share content through photographs and videos. For example, Instagram users gain followers, likes, and comments by uploading videos and photos. Users can also turn on notifications so that they get notified every time that person posts.
Examples: YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, & Snapchat
Discussion networks allow users to have organic, in-depth discussions with each other by leaving and responding to detailed responses in the comment section.
Review networks provide a space for users to leave reviews of products and services while interacting with each other.
Examples: Trip Advisor & Yelp
Social Media and Business
Although anyone can create a social media account, social media has become a vital source in marketing for businesses of all sizes. However, businesses must understand that to have successful social media, they must treat it the same as they would for any other marketing effort. Here are some more tips for how businesses can take advantage of social media.
Grab Users’ Attention.
As many people know, social media users have short attention spans that must be caught as they scroll quickly through multiple posts. Ad headlines are less likely to fit into a Tweet than a traditional newspaper.
Many retailers make the mistake of opening accounts on every platform they deem relevant and then leaving it inactive. Little do they know that most users are turned off by retailers that open accounts then do not interact with clients or the public. In these cases, it is usually better to not have social media on company websites rather than creating accounts and not using them.
Make the Customer a Priority.
Retailers frequently make the mistake of using their social media to discuss and share content about topics they care about rather than content that the customers care about. For instance, retailers may believe that sharing content about a sale is a great idea. However, social media is not the place to only be posting about upcoming sales. Your goal should be to engage customers through content that means so much to them that they feel the need to like, comment, follow, and/or share it.
To use social media correctly, you could engage customers about sales by posting a picture of two potential products you would like to sell at your store and asking your customers which one they prefer. This way customers are more likely to engage and share your posts while you obtain insightful information about your customers’ tastes and preferences.
Businesses should consider the fact that images are the most-shared content on social media and a great tool for customer engagement. The likelihood that your content will be shared rises exponentially when you post images along with your message. The best way to measure the success of your social media is not by the amount of followers you have but rather how many people share your content, regardless of your follower count. Sharing content is the new “word-of-mouth.”
Ultimately, social media is a digital tool that allows anyone with Internet access to create an account, to share their own content, and to engage with other users instantly and with far fewer limitations than traditional media. Social media sites and applications determine the type of media that is shared, whether it is a social network, media network, discussion network, or review network. And if used correctly, social media can be a vital source for businesses that wish to maximize their marketing abilities and engage in real time with customers.
Best Social Media for Businesses
Over the years, a wide variety of social media platforms have planted themselves in our every day lives, starting off as streams of personal expression and ending up as one of the best ways for businesses to engage with their customers. While all social media is great for personal use, there are still quite a few that could greatly benefit businesses. Here are a few examples:
YouTube is the best way to engage with customers because it has the largest user database out of all other social media. YouTube can be used to create and upload content and immediately receive feedback through likes, dislikes, comments, subscriptions, and shares.
But remember, even though engaging with customers is extremely important, YouTube can be a dark place full of negative and unnecessary opinions. Responding to such comments in the correct manner is important; however, it is unrealistic to think that a channel with a huge following can respond to every negative comment. Nowadays, channels with this predicament usually just go through the comments and like them, which seems to be more than enough recognition for most customers.
Facebook was the ultimate game-changer for all social media. Although it started off only being used by citizens of the First World, it had little to do with personal lives and everything to do with official purposes. Eventually areas like Marketing, Advertising, and Trolling began to speed up as this is where it all began. And now, people believe that the platform’s popularity has decreased; however, the numbers show that about 7,000 people register for a new account every 15 minutes. Facebook is even popular in China even though it is banned by the government.
After all its success, Facebook eventually learned that with great power comes great responsibility. A U.S. scanner discovered that Facebook was selling user data to Analytics companies so that businesses could find and sell to their target audience more easily. As many may have already guessed, they received an immense amount of backlash, but people seem to have quickly gotten over it since almost everyone who has Internet also has a Facebook account.
Nowadays, Facebook is creating their own OS (operating system) for smartphones so that they can compete with Google’s Android and iOS. Though Facebook may be on the more controversial side, the platform is clearly in it for the long run.
Regarding businesses, Facebook is an excellent choice for customer engagement as it has a vast number of users that Facebook allows to pay to advertise products and services.
Instagram began as a platform for users to express themselves through photos and videos; yet at the time, most phones were incapable of recording and capturing such content.
For those that did have devices that had these capabilities, Internet access was limited, which resulted in a community of people that wanted to share their interests with anyone and everyone. This was the beginning of hashtags, a way for users to find and interact with other users from all over the world who share common interests with them. Today, Instagram would be better described as a mass medium. Facebook may have a much larger user database, but Instagram contains an astronomical number of photos and videos on a daily basis.
Instagram eventually merged with Facebook, which only helped the platform’s expansion of users in a short amount of time back in 2012.
Businesses can use Instagram to upload images (the most-shared type of media), to engage with customers to better understand their preferences, and to use hashtags to reach a wider audience and gain competitive advantage after finding other businesses that have a similar product or service.
Twitter is a source of news for a huge number of young people and the most popular celebrities who do not want to use Instagram or Facebook. Since 2008, Twitter has gone from less than 11 million users to becoming a company worth $11.9 billion.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, tried to buy Twitter twice, but the platform wisely decided not to sell out to their biggest competitor because they were able to see their own potential. Once celebrities began to join, Twitter became a popular choice and a media of its own.
TikTok is the newest social media addition on this list. It is the only platform that people either absolutely love or absolutely can’t stand. People use TikTok to showcase any and every talent that they may have through videos. A popular option of self-expression is lip-synching, which has been attempted by multiple platforms but never quite stuck the way that TikTok did.
As TikTok took off from Beijing, many youngsters quickly became hooked on the app, leading to Indian Courts banning it for being too addictive, particularly among students who were distracted from their studies.
The best ways for businesses to utilize TikTok is by first keeping up with the trends as they begin and end rather quickly, creating content that is relevant and targeted toward a young audience (in their twenties), and presenting information in a captivating way.
Snapchat users are also mostly in their twenties and are lured in by Snapchat’s creative AI-based filters and the privacy they provide, which is way greater than on other platforms. Snapchat allows their users to keep up with other users from around the world through snaps and chats. The platform also notifies users if someone has screenshotted one of their snaps or conversations, which disappear once they are opened.
Snapchat has also incorporated stories from companies like DailyMail that could be useful for any business. Companies can pay Snapchat to let them upload stories that every user on Snapchat has access to. This option has great potential when it comes to exposure for your business.
LinkedIn is like Facebook for many companies, or what many people recognize as “professional social media.” Users can upload their skills and CV and then be matched with open job positions based on said skills.
Many people use LinkedIn for job searches, and companies can take advantage of this opportunity for finding qualified applicants and gaining exposure for themselves. Make sure to upload a creative and captivating profile since many users use this information to decide if they are interested in working for you.
Reddit is social media for those that consider themselves “intellectuals.” Members share content, news, or links with some piece of information that is later discussed within the community and liked or disliked by members.
Although Reddit is a unique and diverse platform, it is likely that you will find someone with a similar mindset. Users can use Reddit to explore new things and learn from others.
Reddit is useful to businesses because they can post questions and start discussions that give them a better understanding of their target audience.
Clearly social media is one of the best ways that businesses can market to customers for many reasons; however, each platform has its own specialty and age-range that makes it stand out among the rest. Businesses truly need to take advantage of social media as soon as possible but also need to remain active if they decide to create an account. Whether companies are ready to accept it or not, social media is becoming the best way to engage with their customers.