In my decade working in digital marketing, I have not seen anything transform the industry more than the rise of social media. It has become a cliché to speak of social media’s power and influence over consumers. Nonetheless, the idea is still lost on quite a number of business owners who fail to see the value in creating or maintaining a solid social media presence.
In many ways, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter hit the online marketing industry like an asteroid slamming into Earth; they kicked up so much dust that it left everyone temporarily blinded and confused as to what to do next. At this point, the dust has settled and the tremendous value that social media brings to even the most modest of digital marketing campaigns is evident. There are many reasons social media is essential for online marketing, but the most important has to do with its incredible ability to help create and cultivate brand trust, build a meaningful web presence, drive traffic and remain cost effective.
People have to trust a brand to a certain degree before they make a purchase. This predates social media and remains true today. Fortunately, social media presents a unique opportunity for companies both large and small to build and maintain customer-brand relationships. Through social media, companies can not only easily communicate any message they desire to their target audiences, but they can also interact with individual customers from around the world in real time. If done correctly, companies can shape the way in which the public perceives their brand, while at the same time facilitating discussions that can establish or solidify their brand’s authority online. Every day that a company shares meaningful content on its various social media platforms is another day the company is steadily strengthening the very foundation of its brand.
The world’s leading search engines are taking content generated from social media very seriously. For example, Google updated its algorithm in 2015 to incorporate content from social media into its search results. This means a business’ social media presence – or lack thereof – may directly affect how relevant they are online. Consequently, it is more important than ever that companies actively support their social media accounts on a consistent basis. The more content a company generates through social media, the more authority its brand can receive in its market.
I often encounter business owners who tell me that they do not prioritize social media because they feel it has little to do with actually driving potential customers to become paying customers. In the early years of social media, this may have been true, but those days are long gone. Today, it is clear that a strong web presence on social media can drive more traffic to websites than traditional search engines; social media accounts for over 30% of website referral traffic. These numbers can certainly fluctuate, which means that any worthwhile digital marketing campaign must be robust enough to accommodate the major search engines and social media together and not just one or the other.
Perhaps the greatest news of all for small business owners is that social media marketing is cost-effective. For the money spent on a campaign, it is truly mind-blowing how much of a reach social media has with the general population. Its true strength, however, is not simply that it casts a wide net, but that it zeroes in on an industry’s most important customer base with laser precision. Never before have we seen an opening like this to market products and services in such a direct way, and so inexpensively. Social media has leveled the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses. With just a little bit of help, any mom-and-pop shop in America can firmly and effectively establish themselves on social media, reaching their customers in ways they could have only dreamed of a decade ago.
We are at a crossroads where internet marketing campaigns are now inextricably linked to social media. It is no longer a question of whether or not a company should add a social media component to its online marketing operation – and this is a good thing. Proficiency in social media is not another checkmark on a digital marketing to-do list. Rather, it is a wonderful opportunity for small and medium-sized companies to take control of their brand, interact with consumers, entice prospective customers, fix mistakes, learn, grow, improve, and strengthen their position on the internet. In technical terms, this is what we in the industry call a no-brainer.[“Source-forbes”]