You may already be using social media and seeing good returns from it. But for every business that’s making it work, there’s another that’s struggling to see a return, or even justify being social at all. Many businesses (especially B2B) fail to see how social fits into their strategy, or how it could provide a return for the massive amount of time invested.
This is where the problem lies, many businesses approach social with the wrong attitude.
Social is another communication channel
Whether you like it or not, social media is another communication channel between your customers and yourself. Not having a social presence, is the same as not having an email address or phone number. And not monitoring your social profiles is the same as ignoring calls or emails.
The benefits aren’t always obvious
When email first emerged, it had obvious benefits – it was quick, easy, and reduced waste. Businesses could see a real return from embracing it as a communication tool. When it comes to social, the benefits may not be as obvious. They are there; you just need to look at them differently.
Some of the key benefits from social media are:
- The ability to easily communicate with your customers
- A better understanding of your market and target audience
- The ability to respond to situations in a timely manner
- Increased control over your online reputation
- Interact with customers in ways that weren’t previously possible – competitions, surveys, etc
- Networking – social media is the online equivalent of word of mouth marketing
The cost of inactivity
Businesses are often focused solely on the return from social, and in doing so fail to take into account the cost of not embracing it. The question “How much revenue has social media brought in?” is often asked, but the businesses that aren’t using it fail to ask the question “how much revenue have we lost by not being active on social media?”
Without questioning this, businesses that aren’t using it don’t really have an idea of how important it can be.
The return from social media is often judged against an assumed projection of how the business will perform without it. The flaw in this approach is that it fails to take into account any negative effects from not embracing it.
The chart below gives an example of this:
When judging ROI, businesses only tend to look at the potential return, without considering the overall difference that implementing social will have in the long run. When comparing the cost of implementing social media vs the increased revenue it can often seem like there is little benefit early on, but when you consider the negative effects of not investing it becomes a lot easier to justify.
When you approach it as an investment to ensure your business doesn’t fall behind it makes a lot more sense financially.
So why is there a negative return from not embracing social?
Early on the returns were not so obvious. Social media was seen as a gimmick and there wasn’t much data available to back up the benefit for businesses.
A few years later and it’s a different story, social has become a much stronger influence for many of aspects of business, including branding, reputation management and online visibility. It’s importance is widely acknowledged.
Search engines have picked up on the massive importance of social signals and are starting to understand how these can be used to determine the value of a site. Nowadays, the businesses that embrace social see indirect benefits that play a much larger part in securing online presence. It provides a platform for your voice, to promote your content and communicate with your audience.
This is only going to become more important, and not having the ability to do this through social puts you behind the competitors that do. This is where the negative impact of not embracing it is seen.
Understand how social fits in
There are plenty of businesses that still see SEO and Social Media as unrelated practices, and will actively invest in SEO while ignoring any form of social media. This mindset needs to stop.
Social is another discipline which needs to be considered as part of your marketing strategy. So for businesses who still haven’t embraced it yet, stop thinking about what there is to gain and start considering what you have to lose.
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