Is Social Media Really That Important For Businesses?

Most business don’t use social media. Are they saving a fortune or missing out on creating one? That’s what we’re going to explore, covering what types of businesses should be using social media and how it can help them.


I was recently asked this question by someone I met e-networking. Yes, imagine that, you can now find great business contacts whilst sitting at home in your underwear – if you so choose!

It’s a great question to which the answer will very much depend on who you ask.

Service providers hungry for work will, undoubtedly, say yes. Sometimes the better question to ask is “What kind of companies should be using social media?” Of course, the answer should not be “all companies”. You should then start to engage in a more revealing conversation that highlights their expertise and whether their intentions are professional or otherwise…

Business owners will likely respond with an account of their own experiences. If it worked for them, they’ll likely be for it. If it didn’t work for them, they’ll likely be dismissive of it.

Beware the tired old business owners with no understanding of marketing who have “tried everything..!” and yet, their final conclusion is that the world is broken, and wrong, and nothing works. 

When we’re asked this question, the short answer we give is “Social media can benefit most companies, but it depends on who they’re targeting and what they’re trying to achieve”.

The long answer involves a wider discussion of your company/brand objectives and how having a strong social media presence can help.

Social media isn’t right for every business and you don’t need to be active on social media to be successful.

But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it straight away. 

Why would you ignore people who want to spend money with your business?

If you had a queue of people waiting in line, ready to spend money with your company, would you invite them all of them in, or only a few?

Losing out on sales is the risk you take when you choose to ignore not just a type of marketing but a community of potential customers.

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I would argue it’s the duty of any responsible business owner to ensure they explore as many marketing channels, properly, as they are able to.

Doing it properly is the key, if you’re doing it yourself and have no experience, it doesn’t count. To not even try a type of marketing, just because, is as bad as throwing money away.

Brand awareness and leadership are also important. Establishing yourself as the go to company for a product/service doesn’t, especially in the beginning, yield a great return on your investment, but it sure does in the long term – and that’s what successful business is about. The long term. 

Some people still don’t “get” social media or modern marketing

The interesting part about social media, just like SEO, influencer marketing and many others, is that it hasn’t been around for very long. Thinking about how long other forms of marketing have existed, such as flyer drops and leafleting, (printed media was first used in 1450, Germany) puts into perspective how new social media, social media management and all things connected really are.

There are two truths that need to be acknowledged before we go any further.

  1. Tech is the fastest growing industry on the planet. 
  2. Businesses are one of the slowest to adopt new technology and general change 

Personally, I believe that constant change is something only younger generations are used to. Before tech came along, things stayed the same way for a lot longer. And that was okay, a whole lifetime would go by with only minor changes in how things were done, the world was a calmer place.

But if you want your company to thrive over the next 50 years you can’t be like that any more.

The rate of change is now too fast for your business to wait until you’ve died or handed over the reigns to someone younger before introducing more modern marketing strategies.

You have to embrace change or your business will be left behind.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Don’t be scared. Don’t fixate on hypotheticals and let it hold you back.

What if you try and then fail? What if you end up wasting lots of money? What if it takes up too much of your time? What if…

Inaction can be just as costly, if not more so, than taking the wrong action.

Here’s a question for you. What if you refuse to give new types of marketing a chance and you miss a great opportunity to grow your business?

If you’re on the fence about social media, feel free to jump into our live chat and tell us how you feel about it all. Ask us questions – it’s free! It will likely be me you speak to, and I love helping people understand new things 🙂

Social media is a small cog in the big wheel of change 

Engaging with your customers in a meaningful way and on a regular basis helps you to make more money but also, to avoid making catastrophic decisions.

Technology improves at such a fast past now, the chance of innovation and customers developing new needs is higher than ever – you need to stay on top and social media can help with that.

Think about Blockbuster.

They should have evolved into the global success that is Netflix. Instead, they failed.

Why?

They weren’t prepared to listen to what their customers wanted. The people in charge didn’t understand the new needs of their customers and they were arrogant enough to believe they didn’t need to change their business model.

Netflix listened. They understood what people wanted and they made it happen. Netflix changed the industry and now they’re worth £125 billion.

What’s even more interesting is that Reed Hastings only founded Netflix after the frustration of being charged a $40 late return fee….. By Blockbuster..! 

They literally brought about their own demise, and yet, no one in charge saw it coming…?

Everything changes, it is just a matter of time.

I still hear or read about people questioning the purpose of a company website. I still find business owners who don’t want to engage with anything digital.

I doubt they are as successful as they could be.

Change affects companies of all sizes

It’s actually more relevant for smaller companies to stay on top of what their customers want, because they don’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds in the bank or a vast collection of assets to sell if things get bad.

Do you ever wonder how much income, growth and success your business has lost out on due to decisions you’ve made? I do.

What if, by introducing a small amount of change, you could be a lot more successful? I don’t just mean making more money. You could reduce the stress of running your business, work fewer hours, make a bigger impact, help more people.

Here’s an example.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 8. Up until about three years ago eating out, for me, has always been a stressful experience. Beyond general restaurant frustrations, like bad or slow service, most people have never experienced real stress when eating out.

At worst, they might not have one of your favourites. Vegetarians have had to deal with:

  • People who disagree with and want to spend at least half an hour challenging your life decisions
  • The disappointment of having to choose from the same two vegetarian options no matter where you go
  • Foreign staff who struggle with English who recommend and serve dishes with whole fish, chicken/beef stock, gelatine, chips that taste like fish
  • Staff blatantly lying about what goes into their food because they don’t want to lose a customer 
  • Having to spend up to half an hour educating the staff/chef on why the meals they have marked as vegetarian are actually not at all suitable for vegetarians 
  • Anxiety about being blamed for having to find another restaurant because it turns out  the one booked doesn’t actually have a single vegetarian item on the menu 

I’ve eaten at places where all of the above has happened in one sitting, resulting in spending half of my evening feeling completely frustrated…

The result? My friends and family rarely, if ever, use these restaurants. We aren’t all vegetarian but we’re hardly going to book two tables at two different restaurants.

I can tell you that the worst offenders are the old fashioned restaurants, typically run by a chef who has little to no idea of how to run a business properly. They aren’t interested in what their customers want and they don’t have any desire to learn about the changing trends in modern diets.

They’re doing a Blockbuster…

Your industry or sector will have people who are made to feel just like vegetarians do at old fashioned restaurants.These people avoid bad experiences by understanding how companies who are likely to disappoint act and present themselves.

Regardless of how well you can keep customers happy, if you look like a business who can’t, you’re probably losing out on sales and opportunities. You might even be headed towards the same fate as Blockbuster.

People create rules about how you present your business to determine whether you’re likely to give them a good experience

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I can now spot a bad restaurant experience a mile off, just by looking for a few key signals.

If a restaurant does too many things wrong, they go into the “do not consider” pile. For restaurants, I’m looking out for anything that makes me believe it’s being run by an old chef who’s incapable of changing their ways and knows very little about running a business.

Yes it’s a stereotype, but I believe stereotypes exist for a reason and as I mentioned, we’re not looking to be right all of the time, just most of the time.

Looking at a company’s website and their social media accounts usually tells me all I need to know.

If the website is poorly designed, it doesn’t do a good job of showing off the restaurant interior space and you have to download a PDF menu (massive waste of SEO potential and not great for mobile users) chances are they have invested little to nothing into their social media presence.

If their social media accounts aren’t registered, are barely active or look like they’re being managed by their 12 year old nephew, it’s a strong sign they don’t have the capacity or desire to understand how people’s needs are changing and what they can do to better accommodate them.

Engage with customers, find out what they want and then give it to them

Sometimes people know what they want, sometimes they don’t. It’s one thing to listen, it’s another to act and deliver what they need in a way that makes them happy!

In the same way that owning Adobe Photoshop (design software) does not make you a successful designer, owning a company does not make you a successful business owner. There’s a lot to consider when thinking about how to keep customers happy (not just satisfied) while maximising profit.

Life is complex, so too are the services and products that exist today.

Many people struggle with the following:

  • Identifying problems and challenges in their lives
  • Knowing whether solutions exist
  • Where or how to find companies offering the solution(s)  
  • How to pick the best company/product/service for their needs 

Everyone starts with the intention of making a smart purchasing decision, but when it takes too long to find the answers they want, fatigue will start to set in. Instead of making a logic based decision, they will stop caring and pick at random, or give up their search entirely.

In those situations, your chances of making a sale rely exclusively on luck, even if you are by far the best company to help that customer.

The trick is engagement. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Learn about them. Find out what else you could easily do to help them. Build a set of products/services around the needs of your customers.

As the owner of a growing digital agency, it’s my job to decide what new services we choose to offer. I’ve always wanted to offer videography, but, I know that more of our clients, and businesses in general, are struggling to find a <a href=”/services/social-media-management”>reliable social media agency</a>. So I chose to launch those services instead because that’s what more people want.

So, if your business would benefit from giving customers what they want, engagement is key. But how do you engage with your customers and find out what they need?

Social Media to the Rescue 

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Social media is a new kind of channel that allows you to connect and engage directly with a huge number of existing and potential customers.

It allows you to promote yourself to not only your existing and potential customers, but their friends, and their friend’s friends. Not just a couple, but thousands upon thousands of them.

How else are you going to get in front of that many people? Knock on their door and invite yourself in for a coffee?

Let’s talk about Facebook, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the social media world.

Over 2.4 billion people use it on a monthly basis and 37 million of those users are from the UK.

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There are a hell of a lot of people aged between 18 – 54 using Facebook.

Statistic: Distribution of Facebook users worldwide as of January 2019, by age and gender | Statista

What I think is great about Facebook is that everyone uses it. From CEO’s to cleaners, from single male professionals to husband and wife teams, pet owners, sports enthusiasts, gamers and more.

Almost everyone is using Facebook and it’s a platform designed to maximise engagement, which is why I stand by what I said earlier. Most companies will benefit from being active on social media, because almost everyone is using it and can be marketed to.

And that’s just one social media channel/platform. There are many other platforms out there with more specific audiences that you can use to connect people with what you offer.

But how exactly does having a strong social media presence help your business?

Leveraging the power of social media means being interesting to your customers for the right reasons

Social media gives companies a way to humanise themselves. It’s no longer one way communication, like a flyer, or a magazine.

People can answer back!

I see it all the time. Companies spend a small fortune creating and promoting an advert with a ridiculous claim like “We are the global leaders in X, Y, Z sectors!” and people tear them apart. They come back with difficult questions and the company doesn’t know how to answer – they set themselves up to fail.

So, you can’t be stupid with it, or you’re going to waste money. But if you can find ways to be interesting to your customers, they’re going to engage with you in a much more positive way.

Not all companies know how to be interesting and what I often see is business owners dismissing certain activities as boring, when in fact, their customers would be fascinated by some of the things that go on behind closed doors.

If that’s you, we can help you extract the “interesting” out of your company and convert it into social media content that creates interest in your company and products/services.

If your company is all about making money and you don’t really do anything else it could be a bit more difficult.

“Today we increased our revenue by 15%! All we had to do which switch to a lower quality supplier. Our product isn’t as good any more, but hey, that’s okay!”

You have to find ways to make your company interesting. You need to invest into this process.

Don’t worry if you’re boring. Social media can help in other ways too 🙂

use social media to define what you are and what you aren’t 

This is Bob Parsons, the founding director of GoDaddy – a company popular for their web hosting and domain name services.

He shot and killed the elephant because it was apparently causing problems for a local village in Africa. He claimed the only way to solve this problem was to shoot and kill the elephant. He slaughtered the animal then posted the video online. When asked if he had any regrets, he said he was glad he did it, and he was looking forward to doing it again.

Whether you agree with his actions or not, as a business owner, this kind of publicity can be toxic for your brand and if you make the wrong call, you’re going to suffer a loss of earnings, brand reputation, credibility and more. This is certainly the effect it had on GoDaddy shortly after this image, and video, went viral.

What your company stands for, what it is and isn’t prepared to accept is becoming more and more important to people, especially those between the ages of 15 – 40. They are socially and environmentally aware and they don’t want to fund companies who make the world a worse place to live in.

Use social media to share your company values, to talk about the things you’re doing that are going to resonate with your brand audience.

If you have no voice, no online presence, you’re forcing people to judge you and your company without giving them anything to go on.

If you’re going to be active on social media, do it properly 

What’s more damaging to your company or brand than no social media presence? Social accounts filled with half arsed posts that look like they were written by a mad man on speed.

Seriously, I have seen small business owners posting about what they and their partner watched on TV last night. Every day. Their whole post was about them and nothing else.

Slightly less of an offence, but still damaging, are the accounts that continually post false or zero value offers promoting their business. Their whole account basically reads:

“WE SELL THIS. BUY IT”

“OH HI AGAIN, WE SELL THIS.”

“DID YOU WANT TO BUY THIS?”

“ARE YOU SURE? GIVE IT A TRY”

“PLEASE BUY FROM US…!”

“PLEASE…!! WE BEG YOU, BUY THIS PRODUCT!”

It doesn’t make for a very engaging read, or conversation, does it… 

Accounts that post once a month, once every two months, that have boring content are also quite common and just as harmful.

If you’re posting content and it’s not getting any engagement (likes and shares) then you need to change your content strategy, or get one, quick.

You need to post regularly. You want to show people that you’re established, that you’re not some crazy business owner who works 900 hours a week and barely has time to even write a single 100 word post a day, or can’t even afford to hire someone else to do it.

Social media gives you a chance to show how you’re better than your competitors 

For some people, not having a presence is the proof they need to justify not adding you to their short list.

For others, they want to know why they should spend money with one company over all the others. If you have competitors, this should be important to you.

You might know that you’re one of the most generous, kind hearted, best value and most caring companies in your sector, but does anyone else?

What are you doing to prove it? Companies can’t just tell people they’re great any more. Can you imagine being introduced to someone at a networking event and the first things to come out of your mouth are

“Hello, I’m one of the best people in this room. I’m the best person in this room at what I do. You don’t even need to talk to the others, I’m superior in every way. You can trust me”.

Sure, okay…

And yet, businesses think it’s still okay to take this approach with their own marketing… It’s embarrassing! Stop it!

You have to show people how what you offer is better than your competitors. You can do that with social media. Create mini videos that highlight problems within your industry and how you’ve solved them. Promote thought leadership articles you’ve published online, publish testimonials of other people praising you.

Prove that you’re established and worthy of consideration 

Depending on who you talk to, “they” will say it takes between 7 and 9 interactions before someone can trust a new company or brand and buy from them.

Trust has to be earned.

If your first interaction with a potential customer is the first time they’ve ever seen or heard of you, you’ve got some work to do.

If you keep popping up in front of them and manage to generate positive interactions with them, you’re on your way to proving to them that you understand them. You know where to find them (not in a creepy way!), you know what they’re struggling with and you know what they want to hear.

It also demonstrates that you’re not a one man band that’s too cash or time poor to reach out to customers in a meaningful way. You’re not fighting to survive, you’re just on a mission to help people apply solutions to their problems.

Remind people that you exist, sometimes they just forget!

People are busy. They are frantic. They are distracted and constantly on the go.

Just maybe, your company isn’t always one of their top priorities. But at some point you were, even for the briefest of moments. They may have had every intention to buy your product, enquire about your services or sign up to that new plan, but something else came along and took priority.

If you’re not doing any marketing, there’s a chance they’ll have forgotten about you.

It still surprises me to this day the amount of time that can pass between first interaction and first sale. Sometimes it can be years. Something life changing happened, maybe they had a baby unexpectedly and put their entrepreneurial dreams on hold, then fast forward a year later and they’re back in touch…

“Hey! Sorry I completely disappeared… X, Y and Z happened, but I’m now ready to start that project! I saw one of your posts on social media and it reminded me that we talked all that time ago!”

There are any number of reasons people might forget about you. Don’t let them! 

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