According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 69% of US adults use Facebook, 37% spend time on Instagram, and 22% use Twitter.
If you believe in the four principles of marketing–Product, Price, Promotion, and Place–the audience reach alone of social media makes it an essential component in the successful execution of a marketing strategy. A fifth marketing pillar, Purpose, as described by Mark Schaefer in Marketing Rebellion, only adds to the importance of social media as a marketing tool. However, the sheer volume of posts and ads in the newsfeed means that a hit-and-miss approach to social media will no longer work. You have to have a STRATEGY.
Here are 5 reasons your business must have a social media strategy:
1. Facebook Zero is real
There has been a precipitous drop in organic reach for Facebook Company pages since 2012. Organic reach includes content not accompanied by a paid ad. Facebook has been continuously tweaking the algorithm to prompt marketers and business owners to pay for ads to push out their content. According to Key Media Solutions, in 2012, the organic reach of a Facebook Page post was 16% and that number declined to 6.5% in 2014, 2% in 2016, and is less than 1% today, hence the term Facebook Zero. Also, Facebook has telegraphed its shift to Facebook Groups over Facebook Company pages, so organic page reach will not return. Because an effective social media presence for brands now requires an ad budget, there has to be a social media strategy in place to establish, monitor and revise the ongoing ad spend.
2. You can grow your audience with social media tags
Not to be confused with hashtags (#), tagging (@mentions) is an incredibly powerful feature of social media. When you tag a person or business in social media content with an @mention, the tag calls them out in a positive way and gives recognition. Tags hyperlink back to the tagged entity’s social media and also notify the person or business that they have been tagged. When you take the time to tag relevant businesses or people in your posts, they often will share and comment on the post and in doing so, will widen the reach. Tags utilize the audience reach of others and build engagement. They can bring attention to your brand and are a unique feature of social media.
3. Social media platforms are essential for reviews
According to Vendasta, the top 10 online review sites for businesses include Facebook, which is ranked second behind Google, and Yelp, which is placed fourth behind Amazon. Yelp is particularly important for retailers and restaurants and as of the end of the third quarter 2018, had over 170 million reviews. Because people spend time on social media, it’s a natural extension to add reviews there. Also, social platforms allow you to add your company website in the profile information and can drive traffic back to your website as happy reviewers go in search of more information about your brand. Because your brand’s digital footprint is connected across all platforms, make sure to clean up your social media information and ensure the address, phone number, and contact information for your business are consistent across all social platforms.
In 2012, the organic reach of a Facebook Page post was 16%, and that number is less than 1% today. –KeyMedia Solutions
4. Social media imagery can showcase your product
Social media has the unique advantage of coupling a constant stream of images with the content you create. It’s why many brands now embed their Instagram feed right on the website homepage allowing site visitors to see and click-through to the brand’s Instagram posts. In an interesting article by Buffer that analyzed Tweets with and without images, they found that Tweets with images had higher click-through rates, retweets and were more often marked as Favorites. Social media gives brands the platform to showcase their products or services and utilize User Generated Content (UGC), or content created by other users, which the brand can share on its feed.
5. You can interact with your customers using social media
Whether it’s a question from a client via Facebook Messenger, an answer to a question posed via your Instagram Stories, or a click-through to your online store, social media platforms are interactive and bring you closer to your customers. Social listening, the process wherein brands evaluate feedback from their customers garnered via social channels, can help flag business issues and drive strategic change. The feedback may come in the form of a review, comment, or direct message. There’s no better way for a potential customer to ask a question than via social media or messaging app.
Shopping via social media is becoming frictionless, too, with many social platforms like Instagram ensuring the shopping experience remains in-app. In the same way, many brands now integrate Facebook Messenger as a chat option on their websites, and the integration is free, so yet another way to interact with customers. It’s worth mentioning that customer queries need to be answered in a timely manner. According to HubSpot research, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question, and immediate means in 10 minutes or less.
The power of social media is that it puts customer reach in the palm of your hand. Whether you are engaging with customers, collecting online reviews, or growing an audience with tools like tags, social media must be part of your marketing wheelhouse. Interactivity, versatility, and unique functionality are just three reasons it makes sense to put a rigorous, thoughtful social media strategy in place for your brand.