Social Media is everywhere. Not being connected via social media is the exception, not the rule. While there are many debates, complaints, and legitimate downsides to being connected 24/7, there are also a lot of advantages that some of us take for granted or may not even be aware of regarding social media.
Social media can be a useful tool for businesses, bringing advantages such as engaging with your audience and boosting website traffic. However, there can also be disadvantages, including the resources required and negative feedback.
Considering these merits and demerits can help you decide the best approach to social media for your interaction and transaction.
Before I proceed, there is a need for my reader to understand the term ‘social media’ and some of the prominent examples of social media.
According to WhatIs.com, social media is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media.
Here are some prominent examples of social media:
Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues.
Twitter is a free microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users’ tweets by using multiple platforms and devices.
Google+ (pronounced Google plus ) was Google’s social networking project, designed to replicate the way people interact offline more closely than is the case in other social networking services. This website is no longer offered to new users and plans to shut down remaining accounts in 2019.
Wikipedia is a free, open content online encyclopedia created through the collaborative effort of a community of users known as Wikipedians. Anyone registered on the site can create an article for publication; however, registration is not required to edit articles. Wikipedia was founded in January of 2001.
LinkedIn is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.
Reddit is a social news website and forum where stories are socially curated and promoted by site members. The site is composed of hundreds of sub-communities, known as “subreddits.”
Each subreddit has a specific topic such as technology, politics or music. Reddit site members, also known as, “Redditors,” submit content which is then voted upon by other members. The goal is to send well-regarded stories to the top of the site’s main thread page.
Pinterest is a social curation website for sharing and categorizing images found online. Pinterest requires brief descriptions but the main focus of the site is visual. Clicking on an image will take you to the original source.
For example, clicking on a picture of a pair of shoes might redirect users to a purchasing site and an image of blueberry pancakes might redirect to the recipe. (Source: WhatIs.com)
Social media has certainly proven beneficial over the last two decades. Social media remains a huge part of peoples’ everyday lives.
For businesses, social media has created a way to send a brand’s messaging to the right people at the right time and hope your brand sticks out to them enough to be interested, let alone loyal throughout their lives.
There are a lot of benefits to be had from using social media which include the following:
Faster, Easier Communication
Customers can contact a customer service representative faster and easier now than ever before thanks to social media. Businesses can also receive, review, and respond to customers’ grievances faster and easier than ever before.
It’s faster now than ever before to contact the right people — and oftentimes without having to even pick up a phone — and it’s only becoming easier as more people and brands use social media platforms to keep in contact with the people that matter most to their business.
Customers can now communicate real feedback in real-time like never before, something businesses have strived to achieve for a long time.
Social media can be much cheaper than traditional advertising and promotional activities. The costs of maintaining a social media presence are minimal. If you choose to invest in paid advertising, you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows.
Networking & Partnerships
Social media helps connect us easier than ever before. Building quality relationships become a lot easier with the streamlined communication we get from social media, and building relationships with key influencers earn a lot of value for your brand.
Some examples of the added value these connections facilitate are: trust from others’ networks and audience members, the acquisition of quality backlinks (that offer SEO boost as well as, hopefully, an increase in referral visitors), and potential business opportunities.
Compelling and relevant content will grab the attention of potential customers and increase brand visibility. You can respond instantly to industry developments and be seen as a ‘thought leader’ or expert in your field. This can improve how your business is seen by your audience.
Increasing Website Traffic
Social media is intended to reach different audiences in a personable, useful, and entertaining way and refer those potential customers you may not have ever had the chance to engage with previously to get to know and try your business. This works well in all cases when done correctly.
Social content can boost traffic to your website. This can lead to increased online conversions such as sales and leads.
In the world of business, sales, and profits, regardless of what your industry is and who you are marketing and selling to, the focus has to truly be on the customer.
Social media helps us maintain that reputation by giving us platforms to directly interact with our customers like we never have before. That also means we are receiving real customer feedback directly from the source, faster than ever before (and usually much more raw, too).
Businesses should be using this amazing opportunity to build their brand as a true, consumer-first operation, eventually building the brand’s reputation into one that can never be mistaken and is relied on for many years by an ever-growing customer base.
Helping People to Explore and Learn
Social media encourage discovery. If someone is interested in certain books, bands, recipes or ideas, it’s likely that their interest will be catered for by a social networking service or group within a service. If users are looking for something more specific or unusual then they could create their own groups or social networking sites.
Social media services can help people develop their interests and find other people who share the same interests. They can help introduce people to new things and ideas, and deepen appreciation of existing interests. They can also help broaden users’ horizons by helping them discover how other people live and think in all parts of the world.
Social media channels also allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of not just other marketing tactics and practices, but also with the tactics used by direct competitors. And we can learn a lot from our competition.
No one is perfect, and we can all learn something. The ultimate goal is having the customer understand us and depend on us for our authoritative approach within our niche over our competition.
Our competitors are aiming to do the same things as us (establish and protect brand reputation and ultimately sell its products/services), so it’s worth us monitoring and finding out ways our business can do better to educate and entertain users, as well as the things our brand does well, and ways we can get better across the board. (Sources: Search Engine Journal, nibusinessinfo.co.uk, and ReachOut Schools).
The aforementioned facts are what everyone should know and benefit from social media. In other words, they’re the merits of social media.