The Importance of Social Media
Updated: Jun 11
Social media is the online means of communication, conveyance, collaboration, and cultivation among interconnected and interdependent networks of people, communities and organisations enhanced by technological capabilities and mobility, (Tuten & Solomon, 2018). In simple terms, this means websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
How Has Social Media Evolved
Billions of people use social media because of the ability to connect with people easily. Social media has evolved massively over the years. The first social media platform launched in 1997 and peaked at 1 million members unfortunately it was shut down in 2001, (Allen, 2017). Since then, social media as we know it now has been developing. Friendster and LinkedIn are examples of modern social media platforms which were launched in the early 2000’s. By 2008, Facebook had become the most famous social media platform and it still continues to grow rapidly, (Allen, 2017). The increasing popularity of social media can be seen by the range of social media platforms designed for specific interests and the amount of users who are active on social media sites every single day.
Social media has grown rapidly due to the increase in access to mobile devices. In 2020, the number of smartphone users is 3.5 billion which translates to 45.04% of the world’s population owning a smartphone, (Bank My Cell, 2020). Smartphones enable social media users to upload and create content quickly and easily, this has therefore led to an increase in content available on sites to be shared and reacted to. Smartphones, portable devices and increased WiFi coverage and browsing data has led to it becoming possible for users to access social media from anywhere at any time. (OMNI, n.d). Businesses quickly realised the increase in social media usage and access and as a result, businesses created a presence on social media to market to consumers.
Benefits of Social Media
Many businesses utilise social media because there are a number of benefits of social media. There were 45 million active social media users in the UK in 2019, (Statista, 2019) meaning there is an opportunity to reach a large audience through social media usage. Social media can be used by businesses of various sizes and types as a marketing tool, (Birkner, 2011). Many businesses take advantage of social media as a way to increase their brand awareness and many use Facebook to raise their visibility, market themselves or connect with their community, (Brown, 2012). Social media’s role is used to optimize the customer’s interactive experience and brand engagement across all the channels, (Davis and Piven, 2014). However to successfully exploit the potential of social media, companies need to design experiences that deliver tangible value in return for customers’ time, attention, endorsement and data, (Heller and Parasnis, 2011).
Social media increases marketing effectiveness which can be supported by a 2012 Hubspot report, 63% of companies using social media saw increased marketing effectiveness and 57% of small businesses say social media is beneficial to their business, (Hubspot, 2012). Any message or piece of information shared on social media channels can be seen by thousands of people in a short period of time, (Karimi and Naghibi, 2015). Brand awareness can be increased through social media because it represents a cost effective marketing solution, (Karimi and Naghibi, 2015) and most social media functions are free for users meaning businesses can increase engagement and brand awareness at no cost.
Social media is used by businesses to improve their relationships with customers in terms of engagement, which increases the brand trust to lead to a greater customer loyalty and business value, (Trainor, Andzulis, Rapp, Agnihotri, 2014). Social media has the ability to develop stronger and more meaningful relationships with stakeholders, creating an opportunity to provide much greater value, (Jacka and Scott, 2011).
Implications of Social Media
Social media requires companies to try different methods of engagement on social media as depending on the target audience and nature of content methods may need to be adapted. This is a drawback because it requires time and effort. Businesses need to experiment with social media to test engagement and assess the engagement. This is where we help! We will manage your social media or provide you with advice (depending on which service you require) and this will allow you to get on with running the business whilst we deal with marketing your business on social media platforms. Our assistance will benefit you to be successful on social media. It's important to focus on building great content and a strong online community, (Davis and Piven, 2014).
Our Top 5 Tips
Image taken from our Instagram account - @theintouchgirls
Engage and entertain - creating attractions is key to social media success. In order to gain and retain followers, social media pages need to offer something which no other page includes. Often business pages use fun/interesting images, videos and quotes to add depth to their social media pages, offering something for followers to be involved with and enjoy.
Relate to your target audience - if customers/viewers of your posts cannot relate to the information you are providing then it is likely they will not interact/follow the account. Ensure you handle any negative responses to posts with understanding and discretion, when your customers are unhappy with something, show empathy and the solution/action you will be taking to do better.
Inform and interact with trending topics - this highlights two key viewpoints for your business: interacting with trending topics does not only give you awareness through using hashtags and account tags e.g. @theintouchgirls, but it also allows for a chance to show the business is aware of what is going on in the world around its clients. It's important to stay informed and express opinions on what happens in the news today, and potentially focus on the change your business can bring when appropriate to relate.
Be consistent - showing a pattern and strong brand image allows to build recognition. Through using the same business message/values, branding stamps and aesthetics, repetition of visuals stimulate recognition is the viewers mind that the post is from your brand! This will also help to build awareness!
Measure and analyse - it is critical to ensure what is being posted is working for your brand image. If customers aren't interacting with the post, and you don't gaining the reaction you thought you would via likes, comments or new followers, something is going wrong and it may be required for you to change the methods you are currently using. Measuring the impact can be super easy through different analytics tools.
And thats our blog post for this week guys! Thank you so much for reading, we hope you enjoyed and thought it was informative. Hopefully you've learnt something which can help change you business. Please remember we are here to help and would love to partner with small businesses who need assistance with increasing engagement and growth via their social media platforms. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or queries!
Also let us know if you have any topics you'd like us to cover, we'd love to hear from you!
Hannah and Rebecca would like to take this opportunity to thank you as a reader, follower and supporter of our journey with this small business venture. We have had an overwhelming amount of support over the last few days gaining over 100 new followers across all social media platforms!
Rebecca and Hannah, InTouch Marketing Consultancy