We are familiar with Snapchat filters and engagement announcements filling up our personal timelines, but what is the best business use of social media? It is predicted that by the end of 2019, there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the world (Statista, 2019b). This is an astonishing figure to get your head around, but in the eyes of any business, these figures show potential customers.
Globalisation is not a new concept, organisations have been profiting from the global market for quite some time now, thanks to the Internet making the business of doing business a whole lot easier, faster and cheaper. In 2019 however, this means a far more saturated and overwhelming marketplace for the consumer. Businesses need to differentiate themselves from the swarms of competition on and offline, and one of the best tools for this, is the use of social media.
Social media can boost sales, generate leads and even aid crisis management. But where should a company start? Barker, Barker, Bormann, Zahay & Roberts (2017) believe that having clear marketing objectives is the most important thing to begin with. The authors also explain that for the business use of social media to be successful, there must be a strategy in place, including choosing the right platform by looking where the target are spending the most time. Despite the idea that Facebook has become irrelevant, the figures below illustrate just how important the social network giant remains to be.
Choosing Your Platform
I work in the tourism industry, which relies heavily on the business use of social media. Here in TI, we predominantly use Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for our B2C social media communications. Showcasing Ireland visually is a key element in our strategy and at present, sharing the breathtaking landscapes of Ireland via Facebook reaches a lot of our target audiences.
It’s no wonder companies focus on Facebook, with 2.32 billion monthly active users (Statista, 2019a) and the low costs involved. However, algorithm changes such as last year’s update which prioritised ‘family and friends’ content over business content (Mosseri, 2018) has impacted business activity. This disruption among others, shows that times are changing for the business use of social media, hence why businesses usually have a second or third social media account.
Despite the promise of user numbers and followers, it is important to understand that being present on social media alone, is not enough. Customers need to be engaged and fed high quality, inspiring content if you want to convince them to stick around. Brands should master storytelling, the creation of relatable content and encourage a two-way dialogue on social platforms (Barker et al., 2017).
Social posts should have call to actions which lead to user-friendly, optimised and visually beautiful websites. Organic social content should be reinforced by email marketing as well as paid social and search campaigns. Finally, platforms such as Instagram and YouTube should be used as spaces for cooperative campaigns, brand partnerships and influencer marketing.
Final Note for the Business use of Social Media in Tourism
Organisations such as tourism boards and DMCs need to understand the extent to which travelers use digital resources to research destinations before booking (Villar, 2014). Social media is at the forefront of inspiration for trips in 2019 and this is something that we must utilise as digital marketeers. This can be achieved by having solid hashtag strategies, being aware of big trends and as mentioned in the Digital Marketing post of this series, producing fantastic video content.
Below is an example of effective business use of social media: It is visually and emotionally impactful, relatable, showcases Ireland excellently to potential visitors and includes a call to action in the description. Let me know if you think this video ticked all the right boxes!
Here for the TU Dublin Digital Marketing post series? Find the rest below:
- Keeping Track of your Online Profile
- Google Garage: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
- Email Marketing Fundamentals
- Business Use of Social Media (you are here!)
• Barker, M. S., Barker, D. I., Bormann, N. F., Zahay, D., & Roberts. M. (2017). Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach (2nd ed.) Hampshire: Cengage Learning EMEA.
• Mosseri, A. (2018). News feed FYI: Bringing people closer together. Retrieved April 22, 2019 from https://www.facebook.com/business/news/news-feed-fyi-bringing-people-closer-together#
• Statista. (2019a). Most popular social networks worldwide as of April 2019, ranked by number of active users (in millions). Retrieved April 22, 2019 from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/
• Statista. (2019b). Number of social media users worldwide from 2010 to 2021 (in billions). Retrieved April 22, 2019 from https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/
• Villar, J. (2014). Merging digital and traditional lead generation strategies. Journal of Financial Planning, 27(11), 22-23.