Social Media, Does my business need it?

In 2015, there are over 3.01 billion internet users worldwide with 2.07 billion on social media. Individual site statistics are no less staggering. There are 1.4 billion Facebook users; 75% of the platform’s revenues come from ads. Twitter has an active user base of 284 million and there is about 500 million tweets sent out daily. No less impressive are the combined figures from the other sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Google + and even LinkedIN. A fairly recent medium like Whatsapp has upstaged even the mobile SMS and chat features and become a parallel social world.

With so much of the activity happening on social media, can an individual business ignore the wealth of potential user base?

Clearly, connecting and communicating on popular online social media sites now has all but taken over conventional forms across the globe. So is a business entity any different then? Can it afford not to be part of this new social equation? As a business owner, if you wonder if your business needs social media to survive and thrive in this era, the answer is a resounding yes.

The presence of such a substantial number of people on a medium that is both addictive, free and fun to use means that not just social action but also the business side is shifting online. Remember, it cuts across age, income and cultural groups and is almost the de facto mode of communication. That adds that layer of credibility and trust in social media too.

This is exactly what businesses need to tap into a new market and promote their brand. Many businesses have acquisition models built around social media. Word can spread in a non-intrusive and fun way. What’s more, the inherent virality of these media can be harnessed with the trend of users themselves sharing further anything new they come across.

Likewise, once a new user is acquired, social media can greatly help in engaging with him and retaining him. While conventional advertising and PR have been effective, they are costly and also have a pushy connotation attached to them. On the other hand, the interaction that brands can have on a Facebook or a Twitter can be cloaked like a social conversation to have a more personal and customised feel to it. This, instantly, endears a user to this dialogue and even prompts him to share it with his friends and followers.

Many businesses are depending more on social media to announce and conduct product launches. Also, it is possible to market to a particular target market than a general advertising campaign – helping keep costs down. Blogs are an effective way to keep the audience informed.

There are other conventional business practices also that can be done on social media with a smaller budget and greater effect. Gathering inputs on research and trends on user behavior, customer support and complaint handling, proactive PR work on potential brand impact, and cultivating a set of brand loyalists and influencers are some functions that early adopters have already succeeded in.

Clearly, some of the above benefits are either missing in the real world business practices or come at a very high cost. Can your business afford to lose out on these advantages that social media offers?