8 ways neglecting social media will hurt your business

Your online efforts can determine your company’s success or failure. Ignore popular digital platforms at your peril.

Social media marketing used to be viewed as icing on the traditional advertising cake. It was an adjunct to direct mail, print ads and TV commercials.

Social media is now a primary, essential ingredient in any marketing mix. Print ads and other traditional messaging channels are now the adjunct.

Unfortunately, many businesses are unwilling to commit the resources needed to create an effective social strategy. Neglecting your social media presence is not just a matter of missing out on opportunities; it also harms your business and hampers growth.

Lacking a social media strategy damages your business in eight ways:

1. Your competitors are using it.

Regardless of your industry, your competitors are promoting their businesses online. Facebook alone has 60 million business pages and 4 million advertisers.

You are basically giving business to your competition if you aren’t actively crafting your digital presence.

2. Your competitors are targeting your customers.

Facebook Advertising offers an array of features to target precise groups of people—including your competitors’ customers. It’s possible to target ads toward people who search for specific keywords or who visit specific websites (such as your competitors’ sites).

It’s possible your competition is trying to poach your audience through targeted messaging.

3. Your SEO is getting dinged.

Your social media presence factors into your Google search rank. If your digital footprint is weak, it’s harder for people to find you—much less take you seriously enough to want to do business.

Social media now sends more traffic to websites than internet searches, but you can’t benefit from that unless you cultivate a following online.

4. You’re spending too much on traditional PR, marketing and advertising.

Advertising online is affordable. Facebook ads, especially, can fit any budget. Our clients regularly see their ad cost per view under one cent, and cost-per-click is typically under $1. Advertising online also offers accountability, as every transaction is tracked.

Contrast that with the expense and vague return on investment of print ads, billboards and other traditional channels, which can bust your budget in a heartbeat.

5. You’re missing out on branding and visibility benefits.

Consider these stats from Nielsen:

  • Nearly 70 percent of the total online adult population uses social media.
  • Eight out of 10 online adults use Facebook.
  • Some 75 percent of those using Facebook use it daily.
  • More than half (55 percent) of those using Facebook visit the site several times a day.

Facebook gives you the potential to reach almost 2 billion people. More and more, social media platforms are the first place people look to assess who you are and what you’re about. If your online branding is outdated, stale or sloppy, that’s how your entire organization will be perceived.

6. You’re sending the wrong messages at the wrong times to the wrong people.

Advertising online allows you to segment and personalize your messaging, as opposed to spraying the same generic message to everyone. With Facebook Ads, for instance, you can target people by age, gender, location or homeownership status, or you can send messages to parents, newlyweds, luxury-car owners or people who practice yoga. You can even target Target shoppers.

How specific is your direct mail campaign? Personalization greatly increases the odds your message will resonate or at least be noticed.

7. You overlook the influence social media has on consumer behavior.

According to eMarketer, 75 percent of consumers have made a purchase because of social media. That same study cited the fact that Facebook influenced 52 percent of consumers’ purchases both online and offline.

What message are you sending online? Your social media content has the power to sway behavior and influence buying decisions.

8. You aren’t giving consumers access to your business.

Consumers increasingly are making buying decisions based on social media activity, online reviews and their friends’ engagement with businesses. This is now how business is done and won.

If you aren’t strategically using social media to bolster your business, you could be losing potential customers—and possibly your current customers.

Laura Donovan is president of The Word Pro. A version of this post originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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