Social media used to be a world of posting whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. Just looking back at tweets from my old personal profiles makes me cringe – most of what I tweeted was about what food I was eating! We posted about ourselves and so did everyone else.
For me, it all started with MySpace and MSN Messenger. Facebook and Twitter didn’t even exist until much later. It was as if they came out of nowhere. What’s even crazier is that when I was doing research for this post, I found out that LinkedIn was actually started in December 2002. That was my first year of high school – I had no idea it existed until I started university in 2009!
Thinking about where all these social media channels started many years ago, it’s unbelievable how far they’ve come. Instead of just documenting our lives, we can use social media to grow a loyal customer base and even start a business. The possibilities are endless. But there’s a question I always see people asking: “Do I actually need to be on social media?”
The short answer is, no. you don’t have to be on social media. You don’t really have to do anything. But you’d be missing out on some huge benefits that would make you regret not jumping on the social train in the future. And that’s where the long answer comes in.
This is for you if:
- You love social media, but you don't really have a clear purpose for using it for yourself or your brand online
- You've never really jumped on the social media train and now you're wondering whether it's worth it
- You use social media to build your online presence, but you're not fully aware of all the benefits it has to offer.
#1 You Can Learn About Your Audience & Target Them More Effectively
For every business owner, blogger or individual, knowing your audience is key. The best way to get to know your community is through social media. The relationships I’ve built online started out through Twitter, and now I have regular conversations with some of my blogger friends on there all the time. You can find so many people who have similar interests to you, and not only that, you can learn from them too.
By keeping an eye on the people that interact with you the most and finding out what they’re interested in, you can build your special community of loyal fans. Just check out what they’re tweeting about and their bio description (in a perfectly fine non-stalker way) – you’ll find out everything you need to know.
The trick then is to tweet about things you know they’ll be interested in.
Twitter analytics is great for finding this out too, but that’s a story for another day. I know a lot of my followers are interested in finding out about social media tips. So a lot of the content I create and share is based around this.
#2 The Community
The aspect of community in social media is something very special. It’s quite amazing how many different groups of people you see connecting together. Whatever industry you’re in or whatever your interests are, there is always a place for you to go. From Twitter chats, Facebook groups and Google+ hangouts, each platform has its own way of bringing like-minded people together. This is great for individuals who want to run their own website or already do. You can go about the online world by creating content and reading other blogs you love. But one of the most helpful things is to build relationships. And you do that through finding communities. As an example, we’ll pretend that you’re a fashion and style blogger.
You’re just starting out and you’re looking for other people in this community to get to know and bounce ideas off. There are so many different ways you can go about finding groups to interact with.
On Twitter, the first thing to do is type “fashion bloggers” into the search bar. One of the first results that comes up is the official Fashion Bloggers Twitter account – the official place for #fbloggers (fashion bloggers) to come and connect. You’d follow that immediately!
Then you could carry on looking through the search results to see if any other accounts take your fancy. You could change what you’re searching for to “fashion blogger groups” or “fashion blogger communities”. This might direct you to some websites or Facebook groups that are a place for fashion bloggers to go and hang out.
Facebook is great to find communities – I didn’t realise the true power of them until recently. The same idea applies here – type “fashion bloggers” into the search bar. Then you can like as many pages as you want. But what you’re most interested in is groups.
Again, be careful which ones you join. There’ll be some great ones that you can be part of. Use your instincts to decide for yourself.
And never forget the power of Google. Do a search for “fashion blogger communities” or “communities for fashion bloggers” and see which ones come up. You don’t have to sign up to all of them. Try to pick ones out that attract you the most, where you can see yourself interacting a lot, and ones that have an active community. It’s not a great group to join when the last post was over a month ago!
But not only that – you can also create a community yourself. The more you interact with people on social media the more you get to know them. If you have regular conversations and build relationships, you’ll soon start to create a community of your own. Who knows – in the future you might even be able to start your own Facebook group or regular Twitter chat.
More than anything, communities on social media increase communication, build relationships and build loyalty for your own personal brand – three very crucial factors.
#3 Social Media Generates Leads & Provides More Opportunities To Convert
Something I find with my clients at my job is that they’re always wary when I suggest they should have a social media strategy. They really don’t see the benefits of it and, more than that, they always ask the question:
But how will social media make me money?
There it is – the ‘M’ word. It’s what all business owners want to know. And they’re right to ask. For a while, social media didn’t make people a lot of money. If you speak to people about this today, a lot of them will still say that it doesn’t generate any leads or make any sales. But there’s a lot of businesses who are actually finding that this works.
We can talk about “converting” here in two ways – for website owners who want to sell products to their customers. Or it could be in the sense that you simply want to convert some of your new social media followers into regular readers.
Everything you post to social media provides an opportunity for your audience to convert. As you start to build a following on your different platforms, you’ll be able to chat to new customers, current or recent customers and old customers. You’ll have them altogether in one big community.
Every tweet, blog post, image, video, quote, or anything else you publish is a chance for someone to react. That reaction can easily lead to a conversion. Each positive interaction you receive is constantly increasing the chance of people in your audience converting.
#4 You Can Get Help & Advice
Have you noticed how you’ll probably know what the weather is like by looking on Twitter – before you’ve even looked outside? Or how the latest breaking news story won’t come to you through a news channel or the radio – you’ll probably see it on Twitter first? It’s amazing. You can find out anything just by going on social media.
That’s why it’s the best tool to use for when you need help or advice.
I always rave about the design tool, Canva. It’s completed changed the way I create images for my website. This came from the issue I was having with my lack of design skills. So I reached out on Twitter and asked my amazingly brilliant followers (yes you!) if you knew any tools that made it easy to create images on. One follower told me about Canva, and the rest as they say, is history.
If you need advice about anything – not too personal, of course! – ask social media. So many people will always get back to you, and that’s how relationships start.
#5 It’s a Great Way to Put Yourself Out There
Please don’t think that you’ll never be found through social media. People will always find you through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ - everywhere. All you need is for someone new to mention you, and that lets your personal brand gain access to a whole new bunch of followers.
I’ve already spoken about the idea of self-promotion on A Branch of Holly and how uncomfortable it can make some people feel. But I think it’s about time we realised that we’re all in the same boat. Especially for bloggers and business owners, we need to promote through social platforms so people find out about our brand and continuously know what we’re getting up to. It comes with the job. You’ve got to put yourself out there to be found.
#6 It Increases Traffic to Your Website
Yep, each time someone clicks on a link to your most recent blog post or a page on your site that you share through social media, that counts as traffic to your website. So the more people who click on those links, the more your traffic will go up. Through platforms like Twitter, Facebook and so on, it counts as referral traffic.
And remember, it’s not just blog post links you share. Every social channel you’ve got an account on lets you add your website as a link. So if people keep stumbling across your social media accounts through various ways and click on your site link, that’s a sure fire way to increase your traffic. Which also means your audience is increasing, meaning more people have the chance to convert. Isn’t it great how it works?!
#7 You Can Become An Expert In Your Field
If you continue to share great content created by yourself and others in your specific field of interest, people will start coming to you all the time for this information. And when these people share to their own communities that you are a great source of information for Topic X, they’ll start to follow you too. The more people that start talking about you on social media gives you much more authority. This in turns allows you to become an expert.
Something I’ve found is that people want to know you really know what you’re talking about. If you can convey that in everything you create, that is the most valuable thing to have in your online presence.
That way, you can start to connect with other big experts in your field. Once you do that, you’ll be a permanent expert forever. The more authority a person or website has when they mention you, the more likely people are to join your community. It’s all about trust.
#8 Social Media Improves Your SEO
I’m only going to touch lightly on this slightly more technical point. But it’s still really important, and something people don’t really know about if they’re unaware of SEO.
SEO is constantly changing on a daily basis. It’s no longer easy. We can’t just expect to update our websites with 500 word articles and be done with it. Social media is actually becoming a really important factor in deciding the rankings for your website. Sharing your content and services through your social channels sends out what’s called a “brand-signal” to search engines, like Google. This shows your brand’s realness and trustworthiness, which is why it’s always good for people to be talking about you on social media – in a good way of course!
It’s also about keywords. Let’s use the example of fashion bloggers again. It’s quite general, but it works for this purpose. You want to make sure you’ve got “fashion” included in your bio and ideally, the URL of your website. Then it’s just about making sure the majority of what you post to social media is fashion related. This shows search engines you are what you say you are – a fashion blogger.
I could go on with even more benefits but at just over 2000 words, I think I’ll call it a day! It just goes to show how effective, useful and important social media is for everyone; no matter whether you’re thinking about creating a website or you’ve been running one for five years. Social media is a big passion of mine, so much so that I want to tell people exactly what they’re missing on and just how great it is.
But I also thought it’d be good to get feedback from others too. So I went to Twitter and asked:
What would you say is the biggest benefit of being on social media? Hit reply & let me know! #socialmediatips
You know how I said earlier you should always ask for help? Luckily, quite a few people replied! Here’s what some of my community love about being on social media:
And to finish off, I pulled together some pretty awesome social media stats for you to take a look at. You're definitely going to be surprised by some of these figures...
How do you feel about social media? Do you see the benefits of it? Would you like to find out more? Leave a comment or pop me an email - you know where I am!
Wondering how social media can help you be found online?