It’s hard to believe, but some businesses are still slow to embrace social media for marketing and brand-building purposes. These businesses cling to outmoded methods of marketing without taking into account just how influential and far-reaching social media has become for consumers in B2C and B2B.
“Not having the right social media channels for your customers to reach out to you is the 1995 equivalent of not having a phone line,” notes Cassandra Hayes at SocialBro.com.
In case you’re not yet fully on board with social media, here are compelling reasons why not using it can harm your business:
1. People won’t know how great your business is.
Let’s assume you do things right and you’ve built a small, but loyal customer base. Wouldn’t it help to let more people know about your satisfied customers? On social media, businesses routinely share customer testimonials with their followers, while customers are happy to share their buying experiences all on their own.
2. You’re unaware of what customers are saying about you online.
Whether you like it or not, customers unhappy with your product or service won’t hesitate to share their experiences on Facebook, Yelp and other platforms. Without a social media presence, how can you monitor negative reviews or attempt to answer them and demonstrate a policy of responsiveness?
3. You lack a method for engaging with your target audience.
Social media is interactive. Small businesses build communities around their brands and instill customer loyalty. Engagement may include sharing product updates, conducting customer surveys, sponsoring contests, etc. A small business that lacks a social media presence must work much harder to engage its customer base.
4. Traditional advertising is more expensive than marketing on social media.
Not only does creating and distributing advertisements add up to significant costs, the level of customer trust in traditional advertising is fairly low. Startups in particular enjoy a much higher success rate using social media to promote their products or services.
5. It’s much harder to build a reputation as a thought leader.
It’s likely you’re an expert in your particular field of business. But without a social media presence, who will ever know? Small businesses regularly create and promote content of value to their followers, in the process building a reputation as an industry thought-leader — which adds credibility when they reach out to prospective customers.
6. You can’t easily spread the word about new products or upgrades.
Businesses use Facebook and other channels to launch a new product or announce a major upgrade. Customers are sometimes invited via social media to “test-drive” the new product and offer helpful feedback. This kind of customer input increases the odds of a successful launch or upgrade, because a business knows in advance what works (and what doesn’t work) with their target audiences.
7. You’re less likely to know what your competitors are up to.
Never assume that just because you don’t have a social media presence, the competition is abstaining as well. They’re not! Monitoring the social media activity of competitors enables you to stay informed about their marketing efforts and who their customers are — information that could prove essential for your own marketing campaigns.
8. It’s harder to recruit quality employees.
Businesses use social media as an active employee-recruitment tool — and job candidates do the same when it comes to checking out potential employers. Having a vibrant online presence (not just your business website) makes your company more attractive to talented candidates, the very individuals you most want to apply for your open positions.
9. In a crisis, the lack of a social media presence can be devastating.
Sooner or later, almost every business experiences some type of public relations or product-related crisis. Companies that successfully “bounce back” usually integrate crisis management with social media in the planning stages. They use Twitter and other channels to beat back unfounded rumors and speculation, while ensuring a continuous flow of customer-friendly information. A business with no social media presence can be badly harmed by a tsunami of angry voices online.
Late to the show? Look at social media platforms your customers follow and start building your own community of fans and friends alike.
Written by Peter LaMotte, a senior vice president at Levick, and chair of the firm’s digital communications practice.