The original title of this blog was: Your business won't survive without social media in the long run.
A bit alarmist. Would've gotten us more clicks for sure. But I think you'd agree that in the state the world is right now, there's a greater need for answers rather than more uncertainty.
But let's ask the tough question:
Can a business survive without social media?
What's the most essential thing you need to survive as a business? The answer in most cases will be: a consistent stream of revenue.
And to ensure that you essentially need:
- A consistent stream of new customers. Depending on how big the market for your product is, you've gotta be able to attract new customers.
- A happy customer base. Your existing customers will stay with you as long as you solve their problem.
So as long as you've got an established channel to keep bringing you new customers, and to retain your existing community of customers, you can survive.
Social media has become the most important touchpoint for B2B buyers
- Buyers will check out social profiles of businesses before buying from them. If you don't exist there, or if you don't bring your A-game, you've lost a potential customer without even entering a conversation.
- Looking for someone's email address is difficult. Reaching out on social media comes naturally to consumers. If you don't exist there, existing customers might get frustrated and choose your competitor who has a social presence.
- Businesses that are not on social media miss out on a huge source of would-be customers. Here's how...
How does social media get you new customers?
This is a gross simplification of how you can get new customers from social media. The limit is only your creativity. The challenge is standing out against your competition.
Step 1: Grow an audience
Most of the thought leaders you can recall right now, you would recall from having come across their content or watched their video on some social media channel. That's because they invest heavily in creating content just to create an audience.
But an audience isn't going to help you survive as a business. It will however get you a step closer to revenue by...
Step 2: Building authority and trust
A couple thousand people following your content every day or week is powerful. They're doing so because you can entertain them or their interests align with yours. And that's why this is the most relevant pool of people to find your future customers in.
Step 3: Convert audience into customers
With a growing audience of people who are interested in what you have to say or show, the right balance of promotion of your practice on social media can convert a percentage of them into customers.
At this point, you haven't even spent a dime. Just the power of your content, a growing audience, and the right message at the right time.
How is this different from any other channel?
Today, social media algorithms show people what they like to see. And that usually means content from people and businesses that they've previously engaged with. Content that entertains them, provides value to them, and that they're enthusiastic about. In other words, not spam.
So, if people are engaging with your content, your content has already won against other content in their social media feeds. They've signaled strongly that they're interested in what you have to say.
However email newsletters also tick this box. If people sign up for a newsletter, it's a strong signal that they're interested, and they're willing for this email to land in their private email inbox.
Here's what email misses out on..
The network effect
When someone likes your email newsletter, it's unlikely that they will tell other people about it, unless it completely blows their mind.
Social media however works differently. If they just press the 'Like' button, their network sees your content on their social media feed. Just like that, your content is reaching hundreds of extra people.
If they turn into advocates and evangelists of your service/business, even better. Unlike on email, one person sharing your product with their social media following can increase the size of your audience by a few hundreds.
This is great for making people aware of your brand too.
Here's where it really outdoes other channels. If your following on social media resembles your target audience, you can show your ads to audiences that have the same characteristics!
Does Social Media replace other channels?
Complaint resolution: As far as correspondence and communication are concerned, social media provides a good alternative to email for Questions & Complaints.
Broadcasting your message: It's a great way to broadcast your message beyond just the people who you have sent it to. With live video taking the internet by storm, this becomes even more promising for businesses.
For more targeted messaging, however, you might find email to be a better solution.
Content marketing: Social media doesn't replace content marketing. It gives you the option to distribute your content beyond just Google search. A lot of the times good content might not get the traction from search visitors. Social media allows you to keep distributing that content to keep getting visitors to your website.
So it increases the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, creates an extra channel to attract customers organically and through paid efforts, and allows you to amplify your message through your audience.
We wrote a brief guide to how your business can start leveraging social media in those ways. Take a look at our free Ebook: Win on Social Media.