The answer is yes, according to James Debono. It has become as basic a business tool as email and there is no substitute.
Debono makes a good case for his position with a list of 13 reasons social media is inescapable for businesses in this online article published in socialmediatoday. To remain competitive, or even a viable business presence, you’ve got to play the social media game. Here’s why:
- Social proof. With plentiful options and comparison shopping made easy by the internet, having a social media presence gives potential clients a way to feel they’ve checked out and approved your firm before taking the plunge.
- Personal touch. Connecting through social media removes the marketing polish and results in actual conversation and relationships. Your audience feels involved on a more personal level.
- Increased arena. Connecting with others in your niche automatically brings an association with their sphere of influence that adds to yours. Cultivate these relationships.
- Near-universal use. Your competition is on social media. Many times, social media is the first place people look to find new service providers. The reason it’s seen such explosive growth by marketers is because it works.
- It’s where the clients are. The “social” in social media implies the presence of people. Increasingly, this is where communication happens and relationships are forged. If you want to sell to people, go where the people are.
- SEO strengthening. Social media connections count when the search engines analyze your firm’s relevance. If you’re active there your SEO gets a boost.
- Showcase for thought leadership. The nature of social media is such that you can exhibit your deep knowledge of your niche to a lay audience as well as industry peers. Providing good content and relevant commentary works powerfully to establish you as an accessible expert.
- Ripple effect. On social media, everyone has an entourage. An individual’s interactions with your brand are seen by that person’s entire network, and come with at least an implied endorsement. How else will so many people learn that Friend A likes Business B? How else could you get involved in conversation with people thrice removed from your personal connections?
- Page rank. Besides just counting social media pages, the major search algorithms rank them highly. Actively used social media accounts for your firm can have a great effect on your ranking in search inquiries.
- Window to responsiveness. With social media, everyone gets to see how you respond to criticism or client problems. This is yet another aspect of social proof that benefits your firm. Potential clients can see that you follow up to solve problems because you’re committed to client satisfaction.
- Useful feedback. Many people are more comfortable giving feedback in a social media forum than in face-to-face interactions. You may be able to learn about aspects of the client experience that you’d never know about otherwise. Engaging clients here brings insights you simply can’t access another way.
- Crowdsourced customer service. Within the online conversations, you may find that other people take on some of the response-giving tasks simply because they can. Better yet, this free service often comes with plugs for your firm that you’d have been too discreet to attach to the answers.
- Brand exposure. Social media exposes your brand to hordes of people who are interested in your services, as well as many who aren’t yet but could reasonably become so in the future.
While your time isn’t free, most social media sites are. It’s powerful, and it’s where the people are. With all that plus the many other angles of social media that boost your marketing efforts, it’s hard to find a valid reason not to participate. If Debono’s claim isn’t perfectly true yet, it clearly will be in the near future. It’s time for your firm to get on the social media bandwagon.