Q: Do I really need to be using social media accounts for my local business?

A: We believe there are 5 essential reasons for your small business to use social media marketing:

■ Brand awareness

■ Customer insights

■ Targeted advertising

■ Increased website traffic

■ Customer service There is still some skepticism that lingers around the importance of a local business’s presence on social media. It can seem daunting for some, and we understand that. Rather than viewing social media as another task on the owner’s to-do list, we encourage business owners to delegate social media management to a social media savvy employee or to outsource it to an agency with the knowledge and time to help your brand stand out.

Let’s take a deeper look into the top 5 reasons we believe you should utilize social media marketing for your local business.

BRAND AWARENESS

If done correctly, social media marketing has the potential to introduce your brand to new customers on a regular basis. When you share articles, photos and videos that showcase your brand culture and objectives, potential customers are likely to engage with you on your social media platforms. Fight the urge to make every piece of content that you share on social media a blatant advertisement or sale. You want your viewers to get a sense of your company, products and services so that they can determine if they would like to be loyal customers of yours. If they make the decision to follow your business profile, they are also likely to share your content with their personal followers. This process leads to increased brand awareness and exposure.

CUSTOMER INSIGHTS

Once you’ve established brand awareness, social media offers a way for you to get a deeper understanding of the age, gender and psychographics of your existing and potential customers. Once your social media accounts are up and running, you can browse through your list of followers to gain insight into these metrics. This is a long process and if you don’t have a dedicated intern, there are easier ways to gather all of your followers’ information. For instance, Sprout Social is an affordable software that gives you the demographic data of your existing social media followers. With this information, you can create content that continues to engage your target demographics. For example, if you know that your social media following consists of 33 percent women and 67 percent men, you are more likely to share an article about barbers than you are about the latest rom-com out in theaters. Ultimately, knowing your customer demographics should facilitate higher engagement levels, aid in relationship building and lead to higher sales and brand loyalty.

TARGETED ADVERTISING

Utilizing your customer insights, you can advertise on social media platforms such as Facebook to a targeted demographic. When you’d like to create an advertisement on social media, you often have the ability to choose who you would like to see your ad. Many of the ads are shown in a way that blend with the rest of the content an individual is already looking at in a way that disguises its appearance as a blatant advertisement. Flexibility within advertising on social media platforms also extends into budget. You can choose how much money you would like to spend on your ad (as low as $1 per day on some networks.)

INCREASED WEB TRAFFIC

Increased traffic is something that all business owners want but struggle to get on their own. We’ve discussed SEO (search engine optimization) in the past as an effective method for boosting website traffic. While it is an extremely important part of your overall marketing efforts, social media is another. According to Buzzfeed, 75 percent of their overall website traffic comes from social media. When you write a blog article, share a short blurb and the link to your website on your different social media platforms. Chances are that most people don’t go to your website and check to see if you have a blog. If you are writing quality articles of interest in your industry, you can share them with your social media followers so that they are aware of your latest and greatest writings. When they click on the link to read your blog

article, they are automatically routed to your website. If they like what they read, they’re likely to take a look at the rest of your website while they’re there.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Social media serves as a platform on which your previous customers are talking and your potential customers are listening. If you aren’t utilizing social media, you’re likely missing out on the opportunity for prompt customer service and brand advocacy when someone posts a positive or negative review about your business. Even if you don’t have a brand page, social media users can post reviews about your company. Whereas some would view this fact with fear, it is actually an opportunity for you to interact thoughtfully with your customers in response to their needs. These are conversations that other potential customers are seeing; you want to be a part of those interactions and have the ability to earn their future business. Done correctly, your social media presence has the potential to be your highest return-on-investment earner. If you don’t have the time, give us a call! It will save you time so that you can focus on what you do best within your company.

To submit a question for our digital brand experts to answer, send us an email at digitalagency@ gjsentinel.com or give us a call at 970-256-4387. Need help with your website? We do that too.

From your digital brand experts at Sentinel Digital Agency, happy tweeting!

Julie Norman and Mollie Shepardson are digital brand specialists with Sentinel Digital Agency, a sister company of The Daily Sentinel, that provides marketing services to businesses across the Grand Valley. To submit a question for our digital brand experts to answer, email us at digitalagency@gjsentinel. com or give us a call at 970-256-4387.

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