What is Social Media for Business?

Helpful Social Media Basics for the Small Business Owner

Today, for the small business owner, the importance of social media for business is a given. Therefore, you as a small business owner have to consider the mix of social media into the overall marketing strategy and budget as part of your business’ growth. In this text, we are going to answer the question, what is social media marketing?

With so many things to consider, marketing with social media for business can be quite daunting. And, if you don’t have the luxury of an experienced digital marketing director on staff, it is likely the decision-making burden about handling social media rests on you. But even if you do have some help, it is still very helpful to understand what is involved in social media marketing. For how can you oversee and manage what you might not fully understand?

This information is written for the purposes of helping you—the small business owner—get a quick understanding of what is involved in social media marketing so you can effectively delegate this responsibility to others without breaking the bank.

social media for business

What is Social Media Marketing?

When we ask “what is social media marketing?,” we are not simply talking about a social media presence. It is not enough to just be on social media. For the activity to be considered “marketing,” your business needs—at bare minimum—to have a presence on the major social media channels that your prospects and customer base frequent. Whether that is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram etc., your business needs a branded, well-composed and graphically-appealing header across all channels.

Compelling content is an important part of the equation. It is what connects your company with your customer base in a meaningful way and actually engages the audience. That content doesn’t create itself, and it takes lots of focused and extensive work to develop. This content creation can include blog posts, articles, videos, product announcements, ads and more, all developed to support the overall marketing objectives. And it needs to be delivered in the right way to the right audiences to encourage the right kind of engagement. It can be a tricky venture!

As the social media ball gets rolling, hopefully the customer starts engaging. Your company must interact in a positive, engaging way with your audience. All queries, comments, and messages from the channels must be swiftly replied to, and positive action taken. This is key to moving prospects along in the sales cycle, as well as managing the reputation of your business to its online audience.

Social media marketing will quickly turn into a mine field of possibilities that you as a business owner really needs to be able to take advantage of. There are so many opportunities available for to you to use social media to increase your brand awareness. The importance of brand awareness cannot be overstated. The overall objective of any business is obviously to sell more products and/or services.

Once you really decide to get serious about social media for business marketing, however, it really boils down to what is going to be the most effective strategy for you and the business to increase market share. And, what is the best way to promote brand awareness of your company’s products or services. How to achieve that in a cost-effective way has to be foremost on your mind.

So, when we answer the question, “what is social media?” you probably have a clearer idea. Now, let’s look at some of the advantages of being on social media.

social media

What are Some of the Challenges of Social Media Marketing?

The biggest reasons to be on social media is this. It is a great way to grow your business and gain more customers without all the costs typically associated with traditional marketing and advertising. For the small business, it affords a way for you to engage in your market place with “the big boys” without requiring a huge sales force, postal mailings, print, radio or television advertising campaigns, etc.

The really great thing about social media is there are so many different channels to choose from and each platform appeals to a certain segment of your marketplace. That enables you to connect with certain demographics of your purchasers and approach them in ways and language vernacular they understand. For example, a younger audience might chat with friends and share information about your product on SnapChat using images and age-appropriate language. When you have the opportunity, it is important to interact with your prospects and customers in their comfort zone, in a genuinely connected way.

Social media is a great way to get to know your audience. It provides you with an arena to market more effectively to your followers. These high-value interactions are wonderful opportunities to promote your brand to your hot prospects. Your prospects might be online looking for recommendations for a product or service like yours. Hopefully, your online customer base will give your product or service a glowing report. You can then use these online interactions to drive prospects to your website pages, which are designed to convert them into paying customers.

It also gives you the opportunity to interact with your existing customer base and your online community. Your online presence may be needed in offering up answers to questions, solutions to problems or just general customer queries about your services or products. This can save you time and money when you compare this with the costs of having a phone, or in-person, conversation with numerous people addressing similar issues or concerns.

You also need social media in order to keep up with—or stay ahead of—your competition. Like you, they are more than likely also on social media building their customer base promoting their business. You need to keep building your customer base in order to increase your sales and revenue. You also need to continue to raise your positive customer sentiment through good online customer service.

One more really important thing. Think of the ability to tell your brand’s story! Social media is a place to spotlight the many things you are doing to help your prospects and customers. You can easily keep them informed of changes, improvements, and how you can help them. All for a relatively low cost!

small business owner

Advantages of Using Social Media for Business?

Grabbing the “social media marketing bull” by the horn is not for the faint of heart. As you understand by now, maintaining a social media presence is really a full-time commitment for the small business owner, both in time and money. And finding your way through the jungle of information is challenging. The most important thing is that you become clear on what you want to achieve.

Of course, there is a vast amount of information out there on the internet to read and try to absorb. An innocent Google search can quickly consume a lot of your valuable time. There are plenty of great social media management articles and podcasts out there to educate you on all the various facets of social media marketing. But as you read and listen, you start to become convinced there is no WAY on this earth you will have time to do it all.

As you get more and more information, you soon discover that social media marketing is big business and that the people doing it successfully are spending a great deal of money on it.  The deeper you dive into it the more you find that everyone seems to have a different idea of what works. Your head begins to spins with questions. What channels should I post in? What content should I post? How do I post? How can I be sure that this effort translates into dollars or more business for my company?  How can I even afford to do this?

If this is you, you’re not alone. Everyone who focuses on using social media for business has to start somewhere. This is probably the single greatest challenge of social media marketing altogether for the small business owner — getting started!

The primary understanding you need to have in order to move forward, is that being successful in social media for business will require more just a social media presence. This effort will take planning, commitment, time and money. But the payoff cannot be ignored.

Read the next segment in the Small Business Owner Social Media Series ======>8 Steps to Developing A Social Media Strategy.”

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