Creating a business from scratch is an uphill battle. However, with the advent of online shopping platforms, that road is not as steep as it used to be. Smart entrepreneurs everywhere recognize that going online opens up a world of customers to them, literally!
This realization must be followed up with action, though. If you have a business, whether new or established, and do not have an online presence, you are losing out unnecessarily. While a website is the foundation of establishing yourself on the web, the key to business success is social media.
Why Social Media?
One of the most interesting and valuable nuggets of information that scientists have recently discovered is that our attentions spans are becoming increasingly shorter. Most of the world is online and their information consumption habits fall into the same look-and-go category. In the few instances that they go beyond the scrolling stage, the reason may be:
- A particularly interesting text post
- A picture or video that is interesting or unique
- An offer or the promise of a prize
- Content that applies to them uniquely
Few websites can deliver any of these categories of content easily or consistently. Social media, on the other hand, is ideal for creating a high volume of such posts that users may love. Better still, creating such posts requires a far lesser investment of time and effort than it does on a regular website.
Another distinct advantage of social media is that your audience is virtually unlimited. A website requires a user to know its address to have them visit. Social media platforms use tools like hashtags to bundle all relevant content in users’ feeds.
No one has to know your business or your website – the posts that you create are automatically curated into their feed so long as they are marked with the right hashtags.
Can it work for me?
The short answer is: Yes! Social media has been proven to work in literally every single field of products and services.
Every major corporation in the world has a number of social media handles, and uses them as a direct line of communication with its fans and customers. Online platforms like multivendor marketplaces and social sites themselves employ it to magnify their reach.
Governments have begun to use it to interact with citizens. Even the smallest home businesses leverage the incredible reach of social media to build a following of people around the corner and across the world.
This is no coincidence. People are drawn to social media because it gives them a sense of community and helps them find the products and services they need virtually instantaneously. Most businesses that have a solid online presence also employ a full-time social media team to keep engaging existing customers while attracting new ones.
Social media can definitely work for you, so long as you have the right team and the right content to share.
What is the right content?
This is perhaps the trickiest question of all. There are so many genres of content that a business can share that it may seem a bit overwhelming at first. If you are not using a dedicated team and handling your social media handles yourself, a good place to start is with your rivals.
Watch and follow their posts. See how their audience is reacting to the posts they make, both by the type of content – text, image or video – and the subject of that content. Watch out for their tone and the language they use, and how it mirrors how their audience interacts with them.
Another important factor is timing. Most people reach for their mobile devices and look through their feeds at specific times of the day – before work, at lunchtime and on the commute home. They also engage far more on weekends and other holidays. Creating holiday-specific content and other time-influenced content can make a huge difference in user engagement.
Just as important as what to create is also what not to create. Steer completely clear of anything that has even a whiff of controversy. More than a few companies have found that stepping on the virtual toes of their audience with political and social justice messaging can quickly backfire. Don’t pander to the outrage mob and keep your content neutral beyond question.
A final word
Social media is a wonderful, almost always free tool in your arsenal. A simple way to begin using it for your business is to use it as a consumer. Discover what appeals to you and others like you, including your potential customers. Once that foundation has been laid, the subsequent steps will come easily.