Social media is ubiquitous for almost any modern business. But how has social media changed how businesses operate? How have businesses changed their approach to marketing, sales, and corporate transparency to fit the needs of the modern online landscape?
The social media revolution shook many traditional business operations to their core. In this article we will examine the top 5 ways social media has changed the business landscape — and explore how businesses have adapted.
In a world of search engines, the man with the best content is king. Social media presents businesses with completely new ways to market their products.
Organic marketing focuses on attracting potential new customers to a business via ‘natural means’ — that is, by creating an attractive online presence.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a common approach that many businesses employ. Put simply, SEO is the process of making a web page appear particularly attractive for major search engines. Companies that are able to place (or ‘rank’) higher on search engine result pages receive significantly more traffic.
Popular, content-rich social media portals are highly effective marketing platforms. With 71% of buyers more likely to buy a product recommended by others, the importance of social media has never been more significant. Businesses that advertise positive customer testimonials on social media attract even more customers.
Paid marketing enables businesses to ‘skip’ the line. The opportunity to pay for guaranteed exposure is valuable — users are sure to see the advertisement. Granted, social media platforms inform viewers if and when a business sponsors a post. And Millennials have a renown distrust of traditional paid advertising — call it disillusionment!
They do respond well to social media posts and paid marketing online, though. If the right social media influencer recommends a product, expect significant rewards.
The most visible effect of social media on business? Easy — it’s the impact on how businesses communicate! In the digital age, consumer-generated reviews are instantaneous. That means immediate feedback on products, services, and customer service.
Sound a little polarizing?
Social media can make companies popular overnight or sink an otherwise stellar reputation. It’s a double-edged sword, but the lesson is clear. Businesses that engage in transparent, honest practices invariably do well on social media.
Avoiding negative reviews is a real motivator for companies in the modern age.
Real-time communication with company staff via social media? Ten or fifteen years ago, it’d be a pipe dream. Now? Companies routinely interact directly with customers on social media.
Social media communication has even replaced traditional phone-based support centers (in some areas). This new form of customer interaction is cheaper, more efficient, and more rewarding to the customer.
Remember the time before social logins sped up the online buying process? Buying something online meant registering a new account with every company you shopped from! Nowadays, nearly all e-commerce websites offer a form of “social login” to painlessly create an account for purchases.
It’s a lot simpler to log in to a single social media account, after all.
Of course, social media platforms don’t stop there. Facebook, for example, offers users the ability to buy items and services directly from the supplier.
Call it content marketing, inbound marketing, content broadcasting, or what-have-you. The underlying concept is sound — build it and they will come.
Social media is an excellent platform for the publication of content users find useful. Still thinking about print ads in newspapers? That might make sense, depending on your target audience. But when the inclusion of videos on website landing pages and on social media accounts can increase conversions by 80%, it’s hard to deny the benefits of social media marketing.
The great thing about content broadcasting? Simple — the gloves come off. Companies put out product information, aim for viral videos, or rely on entertaining Twitter accounts. Content on social media platforms is shareable, allowing businesses to appeal to a huge audience.
A business looking to advertise a new product may opt for a traditional product information video, for example. They may reach out to social media influencers to attract certain customers. Or, the company could publish a humorous or playful post aimed at getting ‘shares’ and ‘likes’.
More content-specific information could consist of in-depth guides (for example, how to use a certain product), interesting blog posts, or ‘listicles’ (list-based articles).
The opportunities for content broadcasting are endless on social media. All in all, companies that succeed at sharing unique content drive more traffic to their websites.
Think of social media as a force multiplier — small companies can do just as well as large companies can. Inbound marketing relies on quality organic content, something that is not restricted to massive corporations. A great guide to low-light photography (for example) is excellent content regardless of where it came from.
For small businesses, social media can provide a much-needed visibility boost. A handful of excellent reviews on social media will set a business apart from its competition. Success builds more success — the more positive reviews a company has, the more likely it is to attract even more customers.
It’s easy to see the benefits of businesses using social media.
But what about the downsides to not using it?
In a nutshell, social media helps keep businesses safe. Customers expect a social presence from most companies. The lack thereof can make potential customers wary. An active social presence helps build a company’s credibility — people know the business is real and trustworthy.
On top of that, social media platforms allow for quick damage control. Negative reviews can spiral out of control if a single user has a bad experience. Companies can use their social media platforms to proactively address concerns as they arise.
Businesses have adapted to the social media revolution in many ways. Innovative marketing techniques have changed how businesses push their products. Companies are far more transparent, accessible, and open to communication than ever before. Likewise, social media has afforded small businesses a way to attract more customers.
As businesses and customers become more intertwined and interconnected, it’s clear that social media will be a force for years to come.