The Value of Social Media

What is the value of social media?  At first glance this should be a simple question, but in reality it leads to some complicated answers.

People may ask this question because they are either considering starting, or doing something more, with their social media profiles, or are looking to justify not “wasting time” on it.  It’s understandable that the average business person, manager, or other service provider would want to know what value Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites bring for business.  The day is already jammed with meetings, providing good services, client relations, and so on.  With limited time, spending time on social media sites has to bring some sort of value or other return.

Yet a concrete ROI on social media is devilishly difficult to calculate.  There are online formulas and calculations out there that provide estimates, but a lot of those are questionable or outright fiction.  Other companies will tell you that you will sign 2.16 more clients per month using social media, and those claims are outright bogus.  Assigning an exact dollar figure to social media remains difficult, but that does not mean there are not measurable outputs and concrete VALUE behind using it.  Here are some of the bigger reasons on why you should use social media for your business and the value that it brings.

1.  A HUGE market.  There are hundreds of millions of people using social media sites.  Facebook alone has nearly 700 million users.  Many businesses will have thousands to tens of thousands of local users living in their vicinity. Being active in social media gives you the opportunity to build your brand and connect with this large and growing online population.  In addition, as these sites increase in popularity people are spending more time on them.  That means less time surfing your existing website or answering your emails.  You want to be where the action is.

2. A new and fun way to interact.  Social media represents a very low-pressure way to interact with potential clients and people who would like to know more.  People can send you messages via social media, read up on you online (especially on LinkedIn), and already be a warm lead by the time they contact you.  You can also serve as an information source for these people, sharing articles, comments, and other areas of interest.  While this is not the same as managing a personal profile on say Twitter, you can and should have fun with your posts.  It does not have to be all drudgery or nonstop selling. Enjoy the information that you post and come across as a member of the community.  In the end, you’re helping people by providing information and insights.

3. Appearing technologically savvy.  In the late 1990s it became increasingly vital for companies and business people to have a website.  This same trend is now happening with social media.  When people hear of a name or a business, one of the first things they will do is look for you on social media sites.  If they find you with a rich and active profile full of content, you go up in their estimation.  If you’re not present on social media sites or have an inactive profile, fair or not, you’re discounted for someone who is.

4.  Getting found online.  Google loves, loves, LOVES social media sites. People will use search engines to find more information about a brand, service, or person.  For those active in social media this means more first page search results on Google.  For example, for a business person active in social media Google will produce a link to a central website followed by a link to his/her Facebook business page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and LinkedIn account.  This alone makes social media worthwhile since more search results boost the odds of someone being able to find out more about you.  Plus the more active the profile, the more likely to get ranked.

5. If you’re not using social media, odds are your competitors are.  You can throw out items 1-4 if you like, but the bottom line is that if you are not on social media, your competition very likely is.  More and more businesses are seeing a value in participating in social media to build their brand, interact with others, and generate buzz.  Type in some of your competitors’ names into Google followed by “Facebook” to see for yourself.  If you wait too long, it’s possible your competition will have already cornered the social media market for your business, product, and/or service.

Even if someone is sold on the value of social media, time can still limit managing an active social media campaign. If that’s the case, consider getting a social media manager for your business.  Setup can likewise be managed if that is a hurdle for you.