We've all heard about social media. We've heard success stories and tales of epic failures. So how do you know if you need social media? And if you do need it, why?
The easy answer to the first question is yes, you need social media. Remember when we were all wondering whether we really needed a website for our business or not? There were the early adaptors who immediately bought and developed a web presence, gained traction on the search engines with high rankings, and started to see some great conversion rates. And then there was the rest of the world who soon followed suit once they realized a website had truly become a necessity in marketing their business.
The realm of social media is experiencing the same pattern. Those companies that have already put forth the time and effort into social media are beginning to see the payoff - which answers our second question: Why do you need social media?
Social media provides and expands upon quite a few pillars of a good business:
- Social media provides an easily accessible (24/7, universal access) means of creating a community that revolves around your brand. Talk to your customers, let your customers talk to you - the more personal it is, the better the relationship that will begin to develop between you and your customers.
- Social media has become an important part of customer service. Because your customers are already using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, they can very easily ask questions and provide suggestions in regards to your company.
- Social media is where people "hang out" online. If everyone in your city spent their time on one particular block, wouldn't you want your business there?
- Social media is ever-increasingly helpful with your website's search engine rankings. Search engines like Google are beginning to put and extremely heavy emphasis on brands that have active, frequently updated, useful social media streams.
- Social media makes your business less intimidating. Whether your company has 1 employee or 1,000 employees, the idea of communicating with a business can be a bit scary for an individual. Social media lets you give your brand a more personable face.
- Social media is tied to local happenings. More and more, we're seeing networks like Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, Google, Gowalla, and SCVNGR drive people to local businesses. Being active on these sites is like passing out your business card/restaurant menu/list of services/etc. to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people.