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Pretty much everyone knows social media is an essential piece of any successful business. Big or small, startup or enterprise, young or old — every company needs to have at least some semblance of a social media presence.
It’s just so damn important for creating a brand image, curating a reputation, and remaining relevant. Hell, it’s even becoming an important component of discoverability. While Matt Cutts hasn’t been shy about pointing out that social signals aren’t a part of google’s algorithm, the issue is a bit more complicated than his comments may have you believe.
If you’re curious about getting into the nitty gritty, check out this great article by AJ Kohn.
Tldr; social media can indirectly affect SEO in a variety of ways, regardless of the fact that Google doesn’t consider them in their algorithms.
The benefits don’t stop there though…
Trust is a big deal in the business world. Would you be very likely to buy from a merchant or service-provider you didn’t feel you could trust? Take a minute to think about what makes you trust a brand before you’ve bought anything from them. The last thing a potential customer wants to see when they search for your facebook page is:
That right there folks, is how a lead turns cold.
If you’re like most people, transparency and visibility are crucial pieces. You want to feel that the brand is what they say they are, and that they’re committed to being honest. What better way to get a feel for that then watching them interact with their customers and the community at large, first-hand?
Many potential customers will stop in at a company facebook page, or follow their twitter feed to get a feel for how the company interacts with its customers. Are they:
Depending on the vertical, the ideal adjectives will vary of course, but at the end of the day we have to trust our guts. We’re all generally pretty talented at intuiting when someone is being genuine or not.
What’s that? You’re not sold? You still want to hear more?
More Traffic -> More Opportunities To Convert -> More Sales.
Social media can really ramp up your inbound traffic. Think about the fact that every piece of content you publish or syndicate and each profile you build constitutes another route back to your website. The more your content gets shared, the more chances there are for people to discover your brand.
You know what that means! More people entering your sales funnel, and more conversions.
It’s a cumulative effect. All of these factors snowball and really start to ramp up business when you start getting new visitors to the site that are engaged and interested.
The more impressive your social presence, the more likely these people are to discover you, trust you, and enter your funnel as a solid lead.
Stay with me here, swear I’ll stop preaching the gospel of social media after this one last section…
Loyalty -> Evangelists -> Growth
Trust you’re familiar with a little something us business-folk like to call brand loyalty? Consider the following: some of your most engaged and committed customers will be trying to connect with you on Twitter and Facebook. These are the people you really want to keep around. These are the people you want to stay!
Brand evangelists drive big business. It’s like having a walking, talking billboard. The more of these people you earn, the more of them there’ll be spreading the good word about all the bad-ass work you and your team do day-in and day-out.
“53% of Americans who follow brands in social are more loyal to those brands.” – Convince and Convert
The article goes on to show that for 18-24 year olds that number rises to a staggering 66%. So with all this loyalty up for grabs, why isn’t everyone working their marketing butts off on improving their company’s social media presence. Well, it’s because there’s a catch. Put simply…
It’s Bloody Exhausting
If you use twitter or facebook in your personal life, you probably know that it’s possibly the world’s most humongous time-sink. You could equate social media to a dopamine pellet dispenser and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.
Side note: you may not consider this a problem in your personal time if you’re an anti-social hermit, but it will definitely be an issue for a majority of business owners.
Business owners report time being their most valuable asset over everything else. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the majority of small business owners wear many, many hats. With no shortage of things to do, it’s easy to understand why adding another daily responsibility wouldn’t be particularly desirable (read: “please god no!”).
In order to find time, business owners have to focus on prioritization…
Prioritize?! No, YOU prioritize!
Priorities, are the backbone of success. Period. I mean, even Kourtney Kardashian knows it.
“Being a mom is what life is about. I hope people realize what the priorities in life should be and know not everything has to be perfect.” – Kourtney Kardashian
Oh, and so do some savvy business people:
“People who can focus, get things done. People who can prioritize, get the right things done.” – @JohnMaeda
“Our priorities are how we bring our vision and values to life in today’s environment.” – Wells Fargo Company Statement
“For any plan, initiative, or strategy to be successful, every leadership team must have a set of clear priorities in place to make it happen.” – Jim Haudan in “Setting Business Priorities…”
There will always be more to do than can be done. As such, outsourcing can be a pretty irreplaceably awesome way to bring some order to the chaos.
Now there are definitely some things that simply can’t be easily outsourced. Fortunately, social media isn’t on that list. There’s very minimal down-side to delegating your social media presence to external professionals. And conversely, there are some real benefits to taking it off your plate (aside from saving the aforementioned time of course).
Amateur Hour: How Not To Use Social Media For Business
More likely than not, you are a social media amateur. There are people who do this as a full-time job. They are probably better at it than you.
Contrary to what you might believe from over 80% of the resumes you read, using Facebook to stalk an ex and/or post drunken selfies doesn’t make you a “social media expert”. On that note, neither does using instagram to post pictures of your lunch. Don’t get me started on your tweets about mundane tasks you’re doing…
As with most things in life and business, there’s a learning curve. There are also a lot of common misconceptions about how to effectively use social media to build a brand. We won’t delve into the details here, but suffice to say, what you may have heard is probably not true.
Having 10,000 followers most certainly does not mean you’ll get a ton of new customers.
So after saving time, the next most obvious benefit of outsourcing your company’s social media is that you’ll have professionals at the helm from the get-go. You can skip the awkward “teenage years” where you fumble around and fail to really get anywhere.
The other big benefit is that despite social media branding being a time-sink, it’s still not usually enough hours of work to incentivize hiring someone full-time.
Shane Shaps, a social media marketing executive, says her team typically devotes 4-15 hours per week to each small business account they have. As you might immediately notice, this is a perfectly terrible amount of time from a business standpoint.
Tacking it onto an existing employee’s workload is probably out of the question. It’s too much time to be an afterthought. Either it or their current duties would end up being overlooked and not given the necessary TLC to really take off.
On the flip-side, it’s really not enough hours to hire someone even part-time. You’d probably be wasting resources, and no one likes to do that.
The most efficient way for many businesses to resolve this issue will be to outsource social media. You don’t have to worry about bringing in someone new and dealing with the hiring process. You don’t have to spend time and or money learning a whole new realm of marketing (as if there wasn’t enough to know already). And lastly, you don’t have to fret about mucking it all up in the beginning.
These Guys Have Social Figured Out
Honestly, I could have blacked out any mention of the brand name in that image and you’d know it was Target. They’ve done a phenomenal job of creating an easily recognizable brand on both social media and elsewhere. Case in point, their Facebook cover image. It doesn’t even have Target written anywhere on it.
Unsurprisingly, this branding is consistent and ever shines through on the company LinkedIn page. LinkedIn company pages are notoriously bland, but that’s not the case here. Target has really flexed their marketing muscle when it comes to social media.
Now granted, your brand is not going to be as immediately recognizable as something like Coca Cola, but there are few better examples of consistent and impactful social media branding. You immediately get a feel for what the company is about. It’s not just a product, it’s a lifestyle. It evokes an emotional response, more specifically nostalgia.
Their branding is generally focused on sharing a coke with one of your best friends, or a family member or significant other. Their cover images are aimed at reminding you of those times. The twitter cover photo shows not only people connecting, but there’s even the subtle implication that they’re meant to be shared by having two caps next to each other instead of one.
This is where a social media presence can really start paying dividends. Coke’s branding is just so prolific, and it’s focused on people and feelings. Social media is a great venue to convey these values and Coca Cola does it admirably.
This is a fun one, because we can clearly see just how damn self-aware Etsy is. They capture the essence of their business in simple and easily-accessible ways: something we can all appreciate and aspire to emulate.
Everything above-the-fold on their Facebook page says it all. The quirky and home-made aesthetic of the items shown, has slowly but surely come to be synonymous with the Etsy brand. And you can bet that hasn’t happened by chance.
Notice hands, subtly hinting that real people make the things you buy on Etsy. Similarly, whatever the items are in the cover image, they are clearly made by a very creative individual and have a “one-of-a-kind” vibe. That is the Etsy brand in a nutshell.
Bringin’ Sexy Back
Don’t be intimidated by the brands I chose to display above. You don’t need to be them, or even be like them. That’s kind of the point. Each one has a unique approach to social media, there is no right or wrong way to do it.
The benefits of having a strong and consistent social media presence should be pretty clear by now. If they’re not, I guess you’ll just never be interested. And that’s OK… your loss ;).
Outsourcing could be the best thing that happens to your brand’s social media (or lack thereof). It can save you time, resources, and headaches. Give it some thought, and good luck!