The Blog: Is Social Media Right for Your Business?

Social Media: A Huge Part of Our Daily Lives

The average internet user now has 8.5 social media accounts. Even those of us who are not on these platforms, often see stories in the broadcast media about firms' ingenious use of it for PR: from Starbuck's colorful Unicorn Frappuccinos to John Lewis' excellent use of social media to create buzz around their iconic annual Christmas adverts. 

Please get Rainbow Unicorn Frappuccinos out of your head for a second, it's time to think about an important question, how much time should you spend with your business on social media? 

The Big Players in Social Media 

Before deciding if social media platforms could be useful as a marketing channel, let's have a look at the leading players:

We saw that 8.5 is the average number of social accounts. So who are these other platforms beyond the big three of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? 

In fact the most visited platform isn't even one of these three; we all spend a lot of time on this site but sometimes we forget about its social features, or at least we try and stay away from cavalcade of madness that is the video comments section: Youtube is number one, it is visited by 86% of internet users (excluding China).

The next two on the list are applications that most of us check daily. They both belong to Facebook: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. With the first being used by 72% and the second by 66% of people online (excluding China)

Then we have two companies owned by Microsoft: Linkedin and Skype on 40% and 35%, and finally the outlier Snapchat. This platform is unique in this list because it is the only one not owned by Google, Facebook, or Microsoft. 

Big Business for Big Companies 

We have seen that 9/10 of the leading social media platforms are owned by major corporations. From a business owner's perspective, this could be good or bad news; clearly, owners of social media are making money: on one Wednesday in 2018, Mark Zuckerberg made $1.7 billion from Instagram announcing a new feature

But whether or not it's worth spending your company's budget and time interacting on social media is still not clear. As content that you post on social media may have driven more sales if it was on the creator's site or on your directory listings.

The business value of social media depends on your company's size and industry. Social media is definitely an appealing prospect for brands looking to target younger generations. 

A study found that since 2017, Among 16-24-year-olds, social media has become the most influential digital marketing channel.  

This study also found that more than 4 in 10 use social networks to research new brands or products. So a significant number of people are using social to research their purchasing decisions. 

The evidence all supports the idea that social media can be used to enforce and build brand recognition. 22% of consumers on the internet have liked or followed  a brand on social networks in the past month.

Avoid The Social Media Echo Chamber!

But what about medium and small-sized business? It is not so simple for these companies; they do not possess the support base or concept of brand required to get the most out of this aspect of social media.

If SMEs don't have the right strategy with social media, they are susceptible to the echo chamber effect: when a business is only really talking to itself rather than finding new customers; for example when a company with a few hundred connections is mainly communicating with colleagues family and friends who would use the business anyway.

Businesses in this situation could do much more productive things with their time and digital marketing budgets. At the very least they should rethink their social media strategy.

SMEs Work on Your Local SEO First

Any small or medium-sized business with physical premises must make sure that they can be found on all of the most important online maps, search engines and local directories before they even think about social media.

After all, what is the point of social media users being able to find your company's Facebook page if they can't find your business in the first place?

Also, social media may be an important influence on younger generations but there is something even more important than this; have you ever tried to ask someone under thirty for directions? 

The generation who even knows how to hold a map the right way up is becoming increasingly outnumbered. 

With millennials, especially generation Z, if your shop or restaurant isn't on search engines or Google Maps, It might as well be on Pluto. To ensure that customers can find your business, make sure you have an effective Local SEO strategy. 

A key part of this strategy must be to set up effective directory listings, doing this on all of the most important local directories including Google My Business will improve your site's visibility on search engines, directories, and online maps. 

Local directories are also an important influence on consumers' purchasing decisions as many of them have review sections. If this presence is managed effectively it can build trust in your business and attract new customers.

They Are Already Looking For You In Directory Listings 

Directory listings can be more effective than a social media profile because people using these directories are actually there to look for a business in a specific industry, rather than to spy on their friends.

Directory listings are especially useful for SMEs like restaurants: A recent study showed that 90% of consumers in the US and 87% in the UK were inspired by tripadvisor to try new restaurants 

It is important to note that reviews appear for a business online whether they choose to have a presence or not. So businesses without a directory and review presence could be losing business from bad reviews without even knowing.

This yet another reason why SMEs would be better advised to spend their time on this rather than on social media. 

There are many specialized local directories for each industry. A company's information and review profile must appear correctly in all of them. SMEs, who have done this well, can then, maybe, think about checking Facebook, but only after you've done your homework!

Need Some Help Managing Those listings & Reviews? 

rankingCoach can make this all much easier and quicker. The tool shows businesses where they need to be. It gives you the power to centralize and synchronize all of your information on multiple directories with just one click. You can also use the tool to track online reviews and respond cross-platform from within the tool. 

For tips and tricks on digital marketing, check out these articles.

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