5 Ways Businesses can Benefit from Social Media as a Business Tool
Could social media potentially be a way to grow and run a business? Maybe… Will more customers improve your business outcomes? Many would say most certainly. Possibly, maybe could be most certainly if the medium is used right. I remember being asked by a small business owner of a restaurant at the time I was doing my doctoral thesis which focused on social media as an effective operational tool for small businesses, whether it was even worth having a social media business page. She mentioned not feeling the need for it as they were doing fine without it. Doing fine simply meant business was profitable. This had me wondering… if you are doing fine as a business, why the need for social media? Well, there are various benefits to social media asides from generating profits. While profits are typically the (and should be a) main goal of businesses, the main goal of a business should be being a great business. Profits help, but so do having appreciated employees, loyal customers, good community outreach, sound business operations and more. So here are five ways businesses can benefit from social media as a business tool.
Customer Service – Social Media can be used as a customer service tool. Clients or customers might have questions regarding products or services and feel the need to communicate through social media. You most certainly can’t say, “I’ll reply to your Facebook message through my personal email”, that could be somewhat awkward, unless it is confidential in nature and even if it is, it would be proper to reply through the messaging app saying you will send an email. Your customers conveniently communicating with you favor your business as you can respond to them in a timely fashion. A customer might see a post of yours and have questions for you, which can turn into a sale, referral or important connection.
Business Operations – Depending on what you do as business, you can use social media platforms to perform critical business functions. Setting up a private group for your business employees, gives you and your staff the opportunity to communicate, set up business events on the calendar, and share business critical information with one another. Most, if not all Social Media applications have notifications, which can help notifying and communicating quickly with coworkers. Insurance agents can give quotes by sending messages to clients through Social Media like some have done during natural disasters. You can create videos to educate staff and share videos to educate customers to mention a few. Take a look at your business operations and see where you can leverage social media as a business tool based on the dynamics of your business and its operations.
Networking – You probably don’t personally know all your friends, followers or contacts on all your social media platforms. But you constantly are in communication with them, whether it is through their posts or yours. There are many groups on LinkedIn and Facebook for example that cater to various interests which serve as great platforms to learn and discuss with others who share the same interest. These are all forms of networking that could be vital to your business operations. A client of mine who owns a restaurant recently made a connection on social media with someone who referred him to where he could buy the same ingredients he cooks with at his restaurant at a cheaper rate. Guess what? My client now saves money that can be applied to other parts of the business, which ultimately benefits his bottom line.
Education – Education is simply knowledge gained. If you consider all the knowledge you gain through social media posts, you can perceive the importance of social media as an educational tool. Whether you are teaching or learning, it is one of the most important forms of gaining and giving new knowledge. Many fitness instructors share videos on 5 minute workout tips or how to work out at work during your lunch to name a few. People relate to these videos and adopt fitness routines based on them. My website www.whatshaking.com is a news feed website that is constantly updating as feeds are posted and has served as an educational tool for me and others. I run into people that mention seeing an article posted on the website that said such and such. In other words, they gained knowledge through a social media post. Educating your fans, followers or customer base can grow the awareness of your business and its offerings. You can educate fans and followers on causes you support and what you do for them. You can also get educated by following those you can gain knowledge from that could be helpful to your business.
Marketing – Marketing your business through social media is becoming the order of the day. Can you think of any big brand that is not currently on Facebook? That’s a cue to its importance. I recently met a business owner who makes and sells snacks and sauces. She was amazed at the number of likes a recent ad campaign of hers garnered on Facebook in the Middle East. Now she is figuring out how to market and sell her sauces in the Middle East based on the reception. Marketing Communications consists of Public Relations, Advertising, Market Research, Direct Marketing etc. All these can be performed through social media and majority of the big brands are using it as a major marketing tool to perform marketing functions.
Looking for more? Continue on by reading our 4 Tips for Growing Your Business on Social Media.
To wrap it up, there are various ways to use social media as a business tool that can benefit your business. You can come up with various ways to incorporate it into your business by mapping out your business procedures and figuring out what role it can play and where it can be played. Are you paying for services Social Media can offer for free that comply with your business operations? Maybe you can save some money by using social media or reduce your marketing budget by investing in social media ads that can grow your customer base more than other traditional media outlets. Think of Social Media as a business tool, as opposed to a social application and you’ll start to come up with ways to incorporate it into your business. Feel free to share how you use Social Media as a business tool.
By Dr. Mayo Adegbuyi