Social media is becoming integral to our lives, whether keeping up with family overseas, sharing your point of view on topical issues or stalking your ex, it’s uses are varied. Nowadays, an estimated 3.2 billion people worldwide have an active social media profile, that’s 42% of the global population!

Should Businesses Be Using Social Media?

As with most things, where people go, businesses are never far behind. In fact, social media marketing and “social selling” are now industries of their own, with thought leaders and consultancies the world over preaching their formula for building meaningful leads. With 60% of businesses utilising social platforms it’s here to stay, but that means a significant proportion still aren’t. Listen to the ‘experts’ and they’ll tell you to throw all your advertising budget into Facebook ads, but is using social media actually necessary for all businesses?

Large businesses are much more likely to be using social media, 90% of those with 1000+ employees have an online profile and are using it as another delivery channel for their marketing messages. So why are the big players almost all on social media while the small businesses are split?

Resources are a key aspect. Advertising on social sites can be expensive and difficult to master so many firms will hire paid advertising specialists, an expense that SMEs can’t always justify. Also, the manpower needed to run an active page can exceed that of a smaller business. Depending on your industry and the customer types you serve, you could easily spend the day replying to comments, sifting through private messages and contributing to interest groups rather than, you know, the stuff you get paid for. Whilst being available 24/7 might be great for a UK exporter with a dedicated social media team, your local bathroom fitter might not appreciate the messages pinging up anytime of day or night and customers are quick to anger when they think they’re being ignored. So there are legitimate reasons why businesses might choose to not use social channels.

However, for a majority, the pros outweigh the cons. Social media is a marketer’s dream as it allows you to get in front of any niche you can think of. Want to meet fans of badly stuffed animals? There’s a group for that. Want to know the craziest things overheard in Waitrose? There’s a group for that. Really love Comic Sans font? Yep, there’s a group for that. Whatever your product, service or interest, you can find like-minded people on social media. Add to this the very specific targeting you can use for your adverts such as “friends of recently engaged people” who might be looking for wedding gifts, or “fans of ecotourism” who might like your new reusable water bottle you can see why Facebook ads have a 9.21% conversion rate compared to only 3.48% from Google ads.

Advertising isn’t the only reason you should be on social media though. By meeting people with shared interests you are able to create relationships that extend far beyond simply buying and selling. Groups such as The Designers League, which connects freelance designers across the world, are breeding grounds for creative thinking, self-employment support and troubleshooting that Photoshop problem that has taken you a week to figure out. You will find a majority of the posts aren’t sales-y at all; they’re asking opinions, sharing insights and, on the odd occasion, passing work to those less snowed under!

Doing It For The Kids is another case of a Facebook group being much more than a potential market. Here they bring self-employed parents together to discuss the challenges that juggling kids and a business can bring. In fact, they are so against spamming the page with sales that they have a dedicated ‘Shameless Plug’ thread each member is allowed to advertise in once a week. That’s it.

These groups should be seen as a networking opportunity, not a pitching panel. Through the connections you make work might come your way, it might not, but the support of fellow freelancers is invaluable and you can learn a lot very quickly by joining a community of like-minded people.

Everybody has an opinion on how often you should post on social media but what you’re posting is just as important. If you’re a small gluten-free bakery your followers probably aren’t expecting 3000-word blogs on politics every week whereas if you’re a freelance journalist they might. The platform you’re using will also help decide this. Twitter’s 280 character limit (double what it was originally) and hashtagging make the platform great for reactive comments on topical issues so you might want to post a quick status 2/3 times a day. LinkedIn users often favour long-form content (over 2000 words) and sharing expertise so you might only post one article a week but it will be relevant for weeks/months/years to come.

In conclusion, a business’ decision of whether to engage with social media or not will depend entirely on their size, the resources available to them and the industry they operate in. Let us know how social media has/hasn’t worked for you and your business by emailing and we’ll feature you in our next social media blog!

Further reading:

18 Tips To Help You Grow Your Brand and Sales on Social Media – Talented Ladies Club

The Demographics of Social Media in 2019 – Social Media Today

5 Reasons Why You Should Not Be On Social Media – Marketing Land