The roots of social media stretch far deeper than you can possibly imagine. Despite it seeming a relatively recent phenomenon, sites like Facebook and Twitter are the logical outcome of centuries worth of social development among the human population.
But too often we’re asked; “Why do I need social media? What are the benefits? I don’t really understand it…can you explain?”. So, in this blog, I’ll tell you why we use it to market products and services, and how it has become a popular tool for businesses across the world.
How societal communication started…
As a huge history fan, I consider the dawn of social networking to have arisen way back in the 19th Century, with the development of the electrical telegraph. Wires were developed allowing electrical signals to transfer messages from one place to another. These wires were connected to an electromagnet, meaning they would buzz when receiving electricity. However, Samuel Morse (et al) had to come up with a way of communicating messages through one electrical buzz – either a short buzz or a long buzz. Thus, the Morse Code was born, allowing small messages to be conveyed from one place to another, much faster than on horseback. Although the messages were short, it became a revolutionary way to convey news and information and was the first form of electrical telecommunication.
Following this was the invention of the telephone, in 1890, and the radio in 1891, not quite what we know it today, but it was yet another leap in the wider engagement of the populous. Rural communities were no longer disconnected from larger cities, and everyone felt a bit more connected with each other.
In the 20th Century, technology advancement was much quicker, with the first computers coming into use in the 1940s and the earliest version of the Internet, CompuServe, being developed in the 1960s. By 1979, UseNet allowed users to communicate through a virtual newsletter and in the late 80s we were gifted with Internet Relay Chats (IRCs). However, the first recognisable social media, Six Degrees, wasn’t created until 1997.
What do we mean by ‘social media’?
Explaining it is challenging because they offer so much. An easy way to sum up modern-day social is that it’s an amalgamation of previous telecommunication methods put into one platform.
Not only does it offer a solution to message and voice communication, but it also allows people to share information worldwide to different groups of people.
Why is it a great marketing tool?
By the end of this year, the number of worldwide users of social media is expected to surpass 2.5 billion. With so many consumers using it every day, this presents a great opportunity for smaller businesses, as well as the corporate giants, to reach an online audience. It is not just a business to consumer product. It is also a business to business platform, allowing you to connect and create a network of useful business contacts too.
What can social media do for me?
- It is advertising – Although we think of social media as something used by the younger audience, you would be surprised by the stats, more than 29% of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages are 25-35 and 20 – 25% of all users of these three sites are 44-54. Think of it as adding an advert in your local paper, except rather than spending £250 on a small advert, you can create advertising campaigns that are local, national or international, all from the comfort of your own living room and for near to no cost.
- Consumers will be more receptive to your message – Active users prefer the networks because they offer a fun and easy way to connect with what’s going on in the world. Users can create and store lists of things that interest them specifically and search very easily for products, services and reviews. Often, users will interact and follow their favourite companies and brands, making it an easy and cheaper form of advertising and a great method of delivering a message about your company.
- Brand Recognition – Marketing through social networking sites helps to improve your overall brand visibility. Not only does it present a new opportunity for you to present your tone of voice and personality in a less formal way, it’s a great channel to share exclusive, valuable content with your target audience.
- Inbound traffic will increase – Your profile is yet another way of developing a sales funnel. This means that it is another way of driving potential customers to the website. The more quality content that you post out, the more opportunity you have to engage with new leads and direct them back to your website.
- Costs down, conversions up – One of the major benefits to marketing on social is the cost. From a business point of view, it’s the cheapest way of marketing, requiring no extra outlay and will only cost you for the time taken to create a post. This said, we would recommend that you create a strategy if you’re looking for measurable results. According to Lyfe Marketing, the cost for 1,000 impressions on social media is at around £2.50, with the closest alternative, cost-wise being billboards at around £5 per 1,000 impressions.
- Measurable results – You can create a social marketing strategy, you will be able to track, measure and identify the people that you are reaching, as well as having the ability choose the demographic that you would like to target. Most marketing strategies can be applied to social media and when you link this with tracking and analytics on your website you can really follow your customer’s journey and find ways to improve it.
Social Media and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Sure, you’ve heard all about SEO and what you can do increase your ranking on search engines like Google. But, a simple way to improve your SEO is actively updating your social media feeds. This is because successful brands have a healthy social media presence, and this will act as a signal to search engines that your brand is valuable, credible and trustworthy.
Adding social media feeds, to your website, will show what you post on social media onto the website. This will mean that your website is being updated more regularly than planned content changes. Although algorithms that search engines use to find relevant websites are always evolving and changing – having a healthy social presence will end up helping you in a slow and measured way and create authority in the eyes of the search engines.
What if I’m not on social media?
Quite simply, you will miss out on the sheer quantity of largely-free marketing benefits that you can gain from being on social media. Recently, the pub chain Wetherspoons closed all of its social media accounts due to the ‘addictive nature of social media’ and the fact that their staff were ‘just posting pictures of pints.’ Now, it will be interesting to see if the brand reputation has suffered by going in the opposite direction to most brands and deleting social media, but it’s too early to tell.
However, this brings me on to my final point, social media is a point of contact for many firms and many people go on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc to engage with their peers. It’s so-called ‘addictive nature’ is not something that’s a negative when you have a business presence on social media – if anything, it’s a benefit as it allows you to have contact with customers long before and long after they use your product or service. And if you’re spending hours posting pictures of pints, you probably need to re-think your social strategy as you’re definitely not harnessing its true potential. So, get out there and get posting!
If you need any assistance or advice on social media management, you can get in touch here.