Weighing the Impact of Social Media on Business

The impact of social media on business can affect your bottom line. These business owners and experts share how they harness its powers to meet their goals.
January 05, 2018

The impact of social media on business has been mind blowing. Nobody needs to tell you how important it is to communicate with the digital public.

But no matter how plugged in you are, mastering social media for business can still be tricky. That's because it can be very easy to have your business look like a hot mess on social media.

Argue with internet trolls who criticize your business and you could end up looking equally foolish.

Say something impulsive or stupid on social media and it may reflect badly on your business.

Rushed out advertisements could end up being sloppy, condescending or unintentionally offensive.

You've probably read plenty of articles of businesses that have done all of that, and more. That's when you can really see the power of a negative impact of social media on business.

But if you're looking for efficient, positive ways to harness the power of social media, keep the following in mind.

1. Go beyond traditional classified ads when searching for talent.

Writing out an ad and putting it on a career website is fine—plenty of business owners land talented employees that way.

But a video ad may help you find even more talented people excited to work for you. Randy Mitchelson, a vice president of sales and marketing with Bonita Springs, Florida-based marketing firm iPartnerMedia, created a video ad earlier this year when his company was hiring for a few positions.

Along with having trouble finding quality candidates using traditional online board services, Mitchelson says there was also a rumor in their industry that their company was downsizing. That falsehood didn't exactly make prospective candidates line up to their doors.

What's really game-changing in the realm of social media is … providing your audience with the experience of "being in the moment.

—Olga Andrienko, head of global marketing, SEMrush

"To combat both challenges we took matters into our own hands and launched a Facebook video ad campaign," Mitchelson says. "We generated the video on our own using smartphones and a basic video editing app. The fun, relaxed style video showcased our staff with a simple message that iPM is hiring.

"We put a small ad budget—$20 per day for a week—behind the video and used the Facebook ad platform to target our geographic region," he continues. "The results of the campaign surprised even us. Not only was our cost per view extremely low but our audience reach was extensive. People started tagging their friends in the comments of the video post to alert them to the job opportunities. Suddenly thousands of people knew that iPM was in growth mode, dispelling any rumors to [the] contrary."

More importantly, Mitchelson says, the company had extremely qualified candidates sending in their resumes. iPM filled in positions because of the ad.

2. Champion a cause utilizing social media.

Businesses have aligned themselves with charities for about as long as both have been around.

But if you've ever thought about giving back in some way, keep in mind that social media can make it easier to partner with a charity or cause.

Ryan O'Connor hails from Philadelphia, but he now lives in Pai, Thailand, and is the co-founder of One Tribe Apparel, an e-commerce fashion brand that sells handmade clothes, bags and yoga accessories from Thailand. The company also donates $1 per sale to an elephant nature park in Thailand that rescues and cares for abused elephants.

Helping elephants certainly hasn't hurt the business.

“We get comments all the time on Instagram and in our customer reviews that the backdrop of Thailand and our work with the park were the deciding factors in shopping with us, and even our customers wanting to visit Thailand," O'Connor says.

This business adopting a charity approach does seem like something that may well be the future of social media in business. Elephants never forget, as the old saying goes. It's likely that O'Connor hopes his customers will also never forget the good his company is doing.

3. Align yourself with an industry influencer.

Influencer marketing can be tricky. Influencers get a lot of requests for help, and you don't want to be pushy. No influencer is obligated to help you. But, boy, if they do help …

In 2017, Amanda Austin, who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, launched an e-commerce store, Little Shop of Miniatures, that specializes in dollhouse and dollhouse miniatures. She says she increased her traffic five-fold for weeks and got a huge boost in social media traffic by connecting with just one influencer in her industry.

Austin wrote a blog post about the best Instagram accounts to follow if you love miniatures. All of the Instagram owners were “thrilled," Austin says, but one in particular stood out.

“I was able to connect with The Daily Mini, who has nearly 130,000 Instagram followers. She shared my post on Facebook to her audience of 45,000 before sharing a product from my store's Instagram account. This led to a big boost in traffic and followers on two social channels for my new store," Austin says.

4. Predict future trends to see the impact of social media on business.

It may not be your idea of a good time, but you'd do your business a favor if you stay on top of what's the latest and greatest in social media—or hire someone to do that for you.

After all, it's hard to make much of an impact with social media if your mindset is still back in 2006, and you think that people are only using Facebook and Twitter to post what they had for lunch.

If you don't stay on top of things, you could miss out on current and future social media trends. Knowing what's new and coming down the pike may also help you connect the dots and see the future of social media technology before others do.

Olga Andrienko, head of global marketing at digital marketing website SEMrush, points out that many of the social media innovations that are creating excitement have been around awhile. But their increasing popularity does represent something we'll see more and more of in 2018, Andrienko says.

"What's really game-changing in the realm of social media is … providing your audience with the experience of 'being in the moment,'" she says. “The rise of live video, the popularity of chatbots and the widespread buzz over AR [augmented reality] are all direct extensions of this 'in the moment' trend."

And for those who can predict future social media trends, the impact of social media on business will always be far greater than it is for the companies in the middle or rear of the pack.

Granted, not all businesses need to be cutting edge and early adopters. But, still, as far as social media trends and technology goes, while your business may never aspire to be first, you may want to avoid being the last.

Read more articles on marketing & sales.

Photo: Getty Images