For companies not already on – or forced by prospects and customers to be on – the leading edge of social media, there’s often a prevalent question about what value social media has.
From the range of being seen as an untapped opportunity to one of frustration with it being seen as something of a burden, it can be tough to find the right justification for why it is important.
Regardless of industry and organization size, a consistent question I have been asked over the years is what level of social media effort a brand should be investing in. This investment is thought of in terms of internal resources and dedication to content, posting, roles, and volume.
It also includes hard costs like outsourcing the strategy and implementation to a consultant or agency and what the ROI looks like on that investment.
Additionally, the layer of paid social on top of organic complicates the question and consideration to be given.
There are 10 reasons why social media is important to your company regardless of any preconceived answers to the potential questions or to previous commitments and efforts.
1. Reputation Management
Many social media sites – especially for B2C businesses – also serve as review and rating websites.
If you’re unaware which social sites your audience is using and reviewing on in your industry, you can miss out on the opportunity to leverage reviews for your benefit.
Plus, you can miss the negative reviews that you have the opportunity to respond to and address professionally to gain the reputation your company deserves.
Social media is a great vehicle for disseminating important company news and messages.
LinkedIn allows for more professional and press release-like communications, but beyond the corporate feeling content, you can leverage many social networks to get positive news out to customers, prospects, and stakeholders about what the company is doing beyond making a profit.
Spreading cheer and gaining goodwill on social often gains the most engagement from audiences which in turn increases audience sizes over time and impacts visibility in timelines and feeds.
Don’t ignore or underestimate the impact of social on amplifying PR.
In light of Facebook’s changes in filtering promotional content from the organic news feed, we find that PR content does better at getting through in many cases due to higher engagement rates.
There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) about the impact of social media on SEO.
Regardless of the debates over causation, correlation, and whether there are signals built directly into search engine algorithms that relate to social media, there’s consensus within digital marketing that if you’re doing SEO, you should be thinking about social as well.
Creating a clear link between websites and owned social profiles is a must. Beyond that, creating feeds to bring social content into websites and having links back to social profile pages is important.
Beyond that, I strongly recommend putting together a plan to create as much content and gain as much engagement on social sites as industry-leading competitors in the traditional marketplace, search rankings, and social media realms.
4. Local Search
Much like reputation management, local search intersects with social media websites as well.
Many social platforms factor into the local search ecosystem. This ranges from ensuring that you have claimed profiles, consistent NAP (name, address, phone) data, and some level of data refresh or timely verifications over time.
By focusing on the right social media sites that intersect with importance for local search in your industry, you can maintain the importance of both and craft the right strategy for data accuracy and ongoing posting and engagement.
5. Funnel Development
One thing I have to admit in my career as a digital marketer is that in the early days of social when I was heavily focused on search marketing, I had a hard time with dedicating time and resources to social. It was hard to measure (if not impossible) and I knew the ROI metrics in search.
Times have changed.
We have attribution reporting and assisted conversions in Google Analytics among other reporting sources. Writing off the impact of social media without trying and without looking at these metrics is short-sighted.
While I don’t expect the number of last-click conversions to be higher in social than other sources, I do have to consider how social media fits into the funnel and customer journey.
When we are willing to give a social strategy a try and objectively look at assisted conversions, user journey paths, and different attribution models we’ll see how social media has an impact in the conversion funnel.
6. Agile Marketing
While big content investments are still made in gated content, books, ebooks, and research studies, agile marketing has emerged as a necessary approach. It includes small content investments and quick testing to make adjustments.
Rather than investing six months and six figures in a big content project, try out smaller pieces, learn how the audience responds, and use that information to guide the continuing investment in content.
Social media is the perfect place to try pieces of content, ideas, and judge interest and engagement as it is cheap, quick, and easy to deploy within.
Compared to some other digital marketing channels, social can have a different type of reach.
Search relies on people looking for what we have to offer when they plug in a specific query.
Email marketing is limited to our existing audience unless we’re buying lists.
Social media offers the opportunity to get in front of a larger referral audience organically when followers engage with content making it show up in their networks’ feeds.
Additionally, we have many options for sponsoring content and advertising that allow us to proactively target the extended networks of followers as well as choose demographic and interest-based campaigns.
Through the sponsored and advertising options on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook/Instagram, we can expand our prospect audiences proactively in ways that we can’t in other channels.
8. Thought Leadership
If one of your goals is to build and establish thought leadership over time, then social media platforms can help you do so.
While most of the content we’re creating likely is posted and housed on our own websites that positions us as an industry leader, if we’re just posting it on our sites, we’re kind of just talking about ourselves.
When we use social media to gain reach, tie into influencer audiences, and find ways to amplify the content, then we allow our audiences to determine the quality of the content and authority status we deserve in the industry.
9. Gaining Industry Insight
Beyond the focus of our own posting and efforts to gain more attention, engagement, and ROI, we can also listen and learn a lot in social media.
By monitoring your competitors, using social listening tools to keep tabs on shifts in your audience, and staying engaged ourselves and through our companies, we can gain insights.
These insights can advise strategy, inspire content, help with product decisions, and fan out into bigger marketing intelligence initiatives.
Your content matters to job seekers.
LinkedIn is one of the best recruiting tools out there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sources are also important for showing what the company culture is like and help sell candidates on their decision to join your organization.
Yes, recruiter seats are popular and most of the time worth the investment on LinkedIn in addition to job postings.
However, if all you’re doing is recruiting and missing the boat on marketing your company through social to your ideal candidates, you could be losing out on who you want to hire.
The decision on how much time, dollars, and focus to invest in social media comes down to the question of “why?” and “is it worth it?”
These 10 reasons shed some light on why social is important even in industries that are very traditional or that lack a clear last-click conversion showing immediate ROI.