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The Importance of Social Media for Businesses

If establishing your brand on social media is essential to business success in the 21st century, as many believe, then why are some businesses hesitant to engage in an ongoing social media program?

For starters, some business owners (OK, boomer) don’t believe their customers use social media platforms. Others believe that only younger people use social media. Some think that social media marketing doesn’t generate measurable results. And still others think it’s just too much work.
Let’s start with the last comment first. Producing and maintaining a business-forward social media program IS a lot of work–especially in the early days. But since when has anyone built a successful business without working hard? The truth is an effective social media program requires thoughtful strategy, effective content, and an appropriate budget. As to the more mundane aspects of maintaining a social media program, there are a wide range of time- and work-saving tools that take the guesswork and drudgery out of the social media process.
And you think your customers aren’t on social media, or that only young people frequent the social media landscape? There are more than 1 billion active Instagram users as of this writing, making Instagram second only to Facebook (2.5 billion users) as the most popular social media platform. Throw in nearly five billion YouTube video views every day, 400 million Twitter users, 300 million LinkedIn users and–well, that’s a lot of customers, former customers, and potential customers. And according to Pew Research, close to 70 percent of adults 50-69 years old make frequent use of at least one social platform–so much for the idea that social media is a place only for the young.

But does it work?
According to a 2016 study by Salesforce.com, “The link between social marketing and revenue increased 3x over the last year, with nearly half (48%) of marketers reporting that social media marketing is directly linked to their business’ primary revenue source. Now, 82% of marketers agree that social media marketing is core to their business and 72% of respondents report that social is currently generating ROI.”
So what are the consequences of a business not having a social media presence? The first may be a lack of credibility. The millennial and Gen Z populations grew up during the internet boom and the advent of social media platforms. Navigating social media is second nature to these people. When they encounter a business that doesn’t have an active presence on social media platforms, the business can appear “old-fashioned” or irrelevant.
Another consequence is a lack of competitive edge versus competitors. A business that posts actively on social media platforms is a business that drives more exposure. Even if two businesses have the same quality product, consumers are likely to choose the business with which they’re more familiar than one who never appears in their Facebook or Instagram feed. Social media keeps a brand front and center.
A third risk for businesses who opt out of social media is that many of these people will miss out on industry and competitive trends. For example, if a local burger restaurant comes out with a meatless patty and promotes that product on their social media platforms, the burger restaurant across town that ignores social media may never know why its business is suddenly losing ground.

One thing is certain: social media channels aren’t going anywhere but up. In this environment, establishing a brand on social media is an essential element to a business’s success in the 21st century.

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