Social media all started in 1997 with the launch of “Six Degrees,” a social network website based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, that allowed people to connect with one another online. Social media has been a growing part of our culture ever since. What many thought was just a passing fad developed to be something that many of us couldn’t imagine living without. The more platforms that come out, the more traction social media has. Not long after it became clear that it was not a passing fad, businesses began to adopt these platforms as free outlets to connect with customers, the community, and to promote themselves.
Social media is a free and effective method for businesses to connect with customers and the communities they operate in. With nine out of ten businesses participating in the use of social media, a social media presence is becoming a must-have for businesses. A study in 2016 showed that 90% of businesses that had a presence on social media reported increased exposure for the business.
Utilizing social media is also beneficial because it helps businesses gain information on their customers, as well as build relationships with them. Connecting on social media humanizes businesses and provides an environment to connect with less pressure. Connecting through social media also helps businesses to gain information on their customers and their preferences. They have access to demographic information, as well as likes, dislikes, and anything else based on the pages they follow, posts, and other frequently visited web pages. Getting to know your customer and community better helps businesses best tailor their marketing approach, goods, or services.
Social media can also be a tool for businesses to track competitors in the industry and gain information on them and to see what seems to be working best with customers. It can also be helpful to see what other companies that aren’t necessarily competition are doing to promote themselves and connect with their customers on social media platforms. Businesses can gain insight into the approach of others towards their social media and what seems to be working and not working. This helps businesses to better perfect their approach to social media.
Many businesses struggle in the beginning in deciding which social media platforms to use if not all of them. Each platform will reach a slightly different audience, and this can be used to their advantage. Users vary across social media and the ways that would best connect with them vary as well. For example, the average user is older on Facebook than on Instagram, so selecting which one to post on could be determined by the age of the target market. Compiling all aspects of the people the businesses wants to reach and pairing them with the most fitting social media is an incredibly direct and effective way to connect with customers and people in the community. Depending on the target market, businesses may choose to focus their attention on the social media outlet that will best reach the intended group or groups of people. Or create a mix of social media to capture all possible target markets.