How does social media help businesses?

Written by: Heidi Miller   Austin, Texas

Posted on: October 18, 2010

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It’s probably time to stop writing off social media as a ‘trend’. Since 2004, Facebook has grown to over 470 million global users—making it the largest most active social networking site in the world (and the 2nd most popular website overall). Twitter launched in 2006 and has already amassed over 100 million users. With such massive user bases, an overwhelming amount of information is published and viewed on social media websites every day. As a growing business you should be aware of how to capture these eyeballs and direct attention to your website.

How do I use Facebook and Twitter for business?


Facebook

At first glance, social media may seem like a colorful diversion. Facebook encourages users to share personal information, publish photos and even play games. However, Facebook offers businesses the ability to create public pages promoting services and interacting directly with potential customers. These business profiles share all of the functionality of personal profiles, while allowing you to create a social community around your business.

Twitter

Twitter is a considerably more streamlined service. It allows users to publish 140 character ‘tweets’ that appear to ‘followers’. Businesses that gain a substantial number of followers can leverage this audience by promoting products and services. However, it is important not to bombard followers with only promotional tweets. The goal is to appeal to your Twitter audience on a more intimate level than with traditional customer service channels.

Does social media affect SEO?

The simple answer is yes. Google has recently started including Tweets from popular topics directly into search results. Although this currently only displays in a small number of searches, it is likely that Google will continue to incorporate more social postings as these sites grow in popularity.

Additionally, businesses can leverage their Facebook and Twitter accounts by posting links to their website. In time, this catalogue of links adds SEO value to the website.

But will it help with sales?

Creating Facebook and Twitter accounts alone will not immediately result in huge sales growth. Like any new marketing campaign, social marketing takes time and requires careful planning. Effective Twitter and Facebook marketing requires daily, if not hourly attention. Companies who take social marketing seriously, have employees dedicated to managing social media accounts.

A popular example of embracing social marketing is the shoe/apparel company Zappos. Everyone from the CEO down is encouraged to maintain an active Twitter account. Each employee interacts with their micro-audience and all Zappos related Tweets are aggregated into a feed on the website. With over 200 employees, Zappos is able to deliver messaging and respond to feedback from a diverse collective audience. Their commitment to personal customer satisfaction, largely through Twitter correspondence, has resulted in huge growth for the company.

Is it worth it?

Ultimately, you will have to answer that question for yourself. Twitter and Facebook can definitely have a positive impact on your business, IF, you are able to dedicate the time and energy into maintaining consistent social branding.

Top tips

  1. Only 1 of 10 posts should be promotional versus informational
  2. Maintain positive ratio: more followers than following (more followers demonstrates account popularity)
  3. Promotional posts should always link to your website
  4. Connect Twitter and Facebook accounts to cross post using automated tools
  5. Train multiple employees to manage Facebook and Twitter accounts for more regular updates
  6. Be interesting! Offer your audience unique content that holds their attention and keeps them coming back

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