Social media marketing helps strengthen your business. You can tap into new markets and remind consumers about what you have to offer. You can also use social media to set the tone of your business, and that matters with every demographic. 

But it can be hard to see those benefits, especially if you aren't getting a lot of conversions from your social media campaigns. You might also feel like your target market is heavily on or influenced by social media. Chances are that social media is more impactful than it first appears, but that can be a hard sell if you're setting your marketing budget.

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Instead of focusing on how social media interactions can grow your business directly, here are six ways they're a vital way of strengthening your company:

1. More activity means your social media channels show up in search results.

Search engines care about social media. If any part of your business relies on organic search results, that means you have to care about social media, too. If you consistently have a lot of engagement and interactions on your social media channels, that makes them more likely to show up on the first page when someone is searching for your company. 

A search result that you control the content of is much better than a forum or a third-party review site. While all positive exposure is a good thing, your social media profiles are more customizable. You control the information. On a third-party site, viewers can be pulled away by reviews, competing advertisements, and alternative suggestions.

2. Active followers will let you know if something goes wrong.

If your followers feel like they can reach out to you, they will. This means they'll let you know when a page is down, when your shopping cart isn't working right, or if something else is going wrong. The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and the faster your response time is the better.

While you might not want to remove even negative Facebook and Twitter comments, they're less set in stone than other review avenues. You can respond positively and thank your followers for feedback on social media. Eventually, comments will fade in the feed. But on Yelp or other local business directories, negative reviews can stay above the fold for a very long time. You also might not see them quickly enough to provide good solvency.

3. Don't let fake channels steal your spot.

The Internet likes nothing more than a good joke. But it likes a bad joke almost as much. Prominent political figures, major corporations, and celebrities almost always have spoof social media accounts following them. The last thing your company needs is a joke spokesperson controlling your online presence. If nothing else you need those likes and shares to keep your authentic channels on top.

If you claim the closest available derivatives of your company name, you also stop competitors from taking them. This prevents confusion if a similar company to yours that's halfway across the country starts posting coupon codes or harmful gaffes.

4. Measure which posts spread the farthest.

Likes and shares aren't cold, hard cash, but they tell you when your campaigns are working. Social media interactions are the some of the first steps in converting consumers to customers, and they give you a lot of data along the way. 

Social media campaigns should ultimately drive traffic to your site, especially traffic that will subscribe and make purchases. But individual posts within your campaigns may have a different goal, such as spreading awareness of your brand.

Likes and shares are what push your content forward outside of the small circle of your followers. Analyze the data to see which posts get shared to secondary and tertiary connections. For example, if a direct follower of your channel shares you post, it reaches a secondary audience (that follower's primary audience). If someone in that group shares your post, it reaches a tertiary audience. Measuring this lets you know if your campaigns work for a wider audience rather than your committed followers.

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5. Compare your likes and shares to conversions.

You need to have a process for converting viewers to customers, and one of the best ways to support it is with ratios. For example, it may take 10,000 views to gain one new customer. Part of this may be that your post doesn't have traction, but it may also be that a split-second glance while someone scrolls down their feed counts as a view. Ultimately, you can't tell which views are deliberate.

Instead, make a ratio of likes or shares to customers. This helps you set better goals because the sharing and liking are deliberate actions. If you know a certain type of post needs 50 likes or shares to generate one new customer, you have a more defined goal.

6. Give customers easy ways to contact you.

A website is a 24/7 marketing and customer service engine. But not all of your customers will start searching for you on an Internet browser. The majority of browsing and online activity happens on mobile devices, and that means some customers will start their search in the social media app they have open. According to Forbes, social media is a great platform for offering customer service. 

Make sure you're easy to find on the first search, no matter what tool a customer is using. If they need to contact you to solve a problem, they're already going to be frustrated. Introducing even mild inconvenience is likely to make them leave negative reviews and comments. It will also make their call or email harder to resolve.

So turn on the alerts on all of your social media profiles and make sure each page has your company email, URL, and phone number.

Social media is primarily a marketing tool when you're using it for business. But it's also an integral customer service and IT tool, especially if you invest some time in setting up basic profile information. Go to BOLD Worldwide for more ways to multi-task your marketing and business goals.

2019 Marketing Assessment Tool