With its relatively low costs and large audiences, it’s easy to see why businesses see social media as such an essential tool when engaging with consumers and gaining brand awareness.
However, the question of whether social media is surplus to requirements is still valid, which is why we decided to conduct a survey. We wanted to find out what real businesses have to say. Are they using social media? Is it necessary to their business? We reached out to many marketers across the UK for their opinions on the value and effect of social media on their business. The quotes are taken directly from an open comments box we provided.
Crucially, every single marketer who responded said that their business operates on some form of social media platform.
Like many things, social media for business has both pros and cons. Some of the obvious pros were brand awareness and development, networking, increased sales and improved SEO. In terms of cons, things such as brand image can easily be damaged, additional staffing may be required to keep on top of social media demands and there’s more risk of security breaches.
So, everyone uses it, but does social media directly contribute to their goals as a business and provide conversion?
The 60/40 split between the respondents is closer than initially expected. Are the 40% (almost half!) who feel social does not directly contribute to their results, just using social media because they feel they should?
“Our brand uses social media to share our blogs and tools but we don’t actually find there are many conversions directly from social.
"In this day and age, you couldn’t NOT use social media - as a brand awareness exercise it’s necessary, but does it actually directly lead to business for us in B2B? No.”
It almost seems as though using social media as a business is the ‘done thing’ - whether it’s to get additional revenue, or simply just for the extra brand awareness it provides. Though often, brand awareness is not the easiest to measure.
“It helps us reach specific people with specific promotions or offers, which in turn generates business and sales.”
However, there is one brand that has completely shunned social media, stating ‘It’s no worse off without it’. Monocle; a niche global affairs and lifestyle magazine, is not active on any social platform.
With a global circulation of 81,000 it doesn’t seem as though the lack of social presence is directly affecting Monocle as a brand. Editor in chief Tyler Brule insists that a rejection of social media helps to preserve the mystique of the Monocle brand. Monocle online provides a yearly subscription for £80 a year to view articles and receive a copy of the print edition and Brule says: “It’s just common sense. Why would we generate all of these stories and invest in editorial and annoy our core readership by giving it all away free?”.
This non-existent social presence may work for Monocle and it’s a good example of how social media can be ignored and still result in a successful business. That said, many businesses would feel they couldn’t run without the use of social media:
“Social is the heart and driving force for my business. Even in the service industry it is one of the most powerful and important tools that I am using. I cannot imagine a situation in the current climate, where I wouldn’t be using it in business…”
Does this mean that the benefits of social media are dependent on the industry that a business operates in? There’s definitely a lot to say about the type of industries in which social media is most beneficial, such as entertainment, fashion, real estate and marketing, but this is not to say that not every industry can benefit.
It seems as though social media is something that’s relevant to your business if you decide it to be.
“As with all marketing tactics, it's a case of whether the shoe fits. For us it works. For many of our clients, it's not a large or important aspect of their marketing.”
Sacha Mooney, PR consultant, Zazzle Media