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What’s the Real Point of Social Media for business?

…social media traffic has an average conversion rate of 0.71 percent…” Monetate

Despite the explosion of social media, it continues to deliver a low conversion rate compared to email marketing. If the conversion rate is so small, why would any sane business bother? What’s the real point of social media for business – if indeed there is any point (other than to watch videos of cats being scared of cucumbers)? Well, if you’re a business, there is a very real point to social media – although not necessarily what you would expect.

The key point of social media – engagement

Looking narrowly at ‘conversion’ is probably the wrong way to approach social media and its value for business. ‘Social’ media is about building trust and loyalty amongst a group of followers. It’s about showing customers and potential customers the kind of business they are about to buy from.

  • Click through to social

In an information-hungry, online age, a website alone is not enough. Your website visitors will be looking for your social icons to click through and see what you’re doing on social media – after all, it’s where millions (around 40 million of us in the UK have Facebook accounts) of us are choosing to spend our time.

  • Show your true colours

Your social media is where you can engage with your customers and potential customers. It may not show up in your conversion rates, but an active social media presence will win you customers over a competitor who does nothing on social – or worse, has a poorly maintained presence.

The ‘free advertising’ of social media

If you’re going to run a full blown social media strategy, then of course, social media is not ‘free’ – there’s a time cost if nothing else. However, it costs nothing to set up profiles across social media, which, if properly done, offers the opportunity to serve as ‘free advertising’.

  • Many people search on social

Even if social doesn’t drive conversions, don’t forget that many of us now search on social media in the same way that we would on Google. Our purchasing decisions are complex – the internet allows us to research away to our heart’s content, and social search is one important element to that.

  • Social offers targeted advertising opportunities

Facebook ads are becoming particularly effective, but all social platforms offer opportunities for paid advertising which can be very effectively targeted at particular audiences. If you’re not on social media, you don’t have the opportunity to take advantage.

Lock down your brand

You may have bought all the domain names linked to your business – but what if you haven’t locked down your brand on social media? There’s nothing to stop another business coming along and setting up social accounts using your business name.

  • Secure your brand name – and reputation

Opening social media profiles across the various platforms, using your branding and logos avoids the chance of someone else doing so. You stay in control of your brand. In this respect, the point of social media is a valuable – and often overlooked – one.

  • You don’t have to be active

Even if the thought of being active on social media fills you with dread, you can always set up the profiles and put a message or post with your website or phone number of enquiries. Equally, if you want to concentrate on one platform, set up accounts on the other platforms and direct them to your preferred platform for social engagement.

Digital Marketing is not just social media

Social media marketing is just one branch of your digital marketing strategy. It sits there along with SEO and pay per click advertising, and of course a well built, up to date website. You need to understand how social media sits within that – and never underestimate the power of a great website

  • Your website needs to be fit for purpose

Don’t forget that one of the key purposes of social media is to drive traffic to your website – so you need to make sure your website is looking good and working well. It may be stating the obvious, but if your website isn’t up to scratch, it’s really not worth investing the time and effort building a following on social media.

  • Social is an investment for future sales

When your customers are using social media they’re possibly not looking for your products or services. They’re looking to see what their friends got up to at the weekend, or to take a quiz to find out how many chocolate bars form the 1980s they can remember (unless you count LinkedIn as social media, in which case, different rules apply). The point of social media is to tap into that, so that when they’re looking to buy, you will be at the forefront of their mind.

So, social may not deliver on conversion rates, but it has enormous value as a tool for engaging with your customers and potential customers, and for enhancing your online presence. Combined with a well-designed website, a strong social presence is hugely valuable for businesses or all kinds.

We’ve worked with organisations in all sectors, across the UK, offering consultancy and training to get them started on social media, and supporting them with their social media content. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.