Social media has been a popular marketing tool from the start, but its performance hasn’t always matched its potential. That’s not to say it has performed poorly, or anything close. It’s just that marketers identified the massive potential of social so early, and so publicly, that it took a few years to see if the results matched the predictions.
Now the results are in, and it turns out that even the most rosy predictions of social media’s impact actually undersold its potential. Social media now delivers more website referrals than any other digital marketing tool. Yes, that includes search engines. So how did this happen, and what does it mean for your business? Let’s dive in.
The Growth of Social, by the Numbers
First, the big reveal. According to a study of 2014 social media habits by Shareaholic, social sites drove over 31 percent of website traffic in the fourth quarter of 2014. That’s more than search engines, paid advertising, and every other traffic-driving tool. The study accounted for the top eight social networks, though one social site stood out above all the rest.
- 2014 was the first year in which social media delivered more referrals than search engines, and the year-by-year growth is impressive. The Q4 2014 results of Shareaholic’s social study indicated a 22 percent rise over the same time period in 2013.
- Shareaholic’s survey includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Google+, Reddit, and YouTube. But if you’re like most social media users, you probably have stopped paying attention after the first name on the list.
- Facebook absolutely dominates the social referral rankings, with a 25 percent referral rating. Pinterest is second at just over five percent, while no other social network tops one percent.
- While the quantity of social media referrals is certainly exciting for social devotees, it’s the quality that really stands out. The inbound experts at HubSpot report that consumers are 71 percent more likely to make a purchase when referred by connections on social media.
- For comparison’s sake, the same HubSpot report indicates that 86 percent of consumers change channels or mute their TV during commercials. Social marketing is so effective in part because it blurs the line between advertising and interaction in a way that other formats can’t match.
How to Make the Most of Your Social Presence
So we’ve established that social media is very, very popular. Now it’s time to put that popularity to work for your Calgary business. Through every step, remember that being friendly and courteous with your social interactions is always the right move.
- The numbers above show that Facebook is definitely on top of the mountain, but that doesn’t mean you should discount other social sites. Twitter is great for targeting passionate niche markets, Pinterest is very popular among North American women, and LinkedIn is great for appealing to professionals. Your best options depend on what you sell, and your target market.
- Know the basic personalities of social media users. The Informant and Researcher are excellent sharers, while the Inquirer and Assistant love to ask and answer questions. The Entertainer, of course, always keeps things light and fun.
- Participate, play by the rules, and post often. Social success depends on being a real part of the community, so get involved. Respond to direct interactions, and don’t be afraid to comment on the posts of community members, too.
- Include images in your posts whenever possible. Posts with visual content are more likely to be shared, and they simply look better than posts without.
- Maybe you’ve been wanting to get into social, but the prospect of the dreaded faux pas is holding you back. Rest easy. Avoiding a social media faux pas isn’t as difficult as it seems.
- The best tip? Be nice. The second best tip? If you wouldn’t say it in front of a room full of people, don’t say it on social.
The numbers don’t lie. Social media for business has arrived completely, and it’s exceeding even the most optimistic expectations. If you haven’t embraced it already, now is the time. Start by involving yourself in the online community, and genuinely connecting with your target audience. Your social pages will be generating referrals before you know it.
Need help getting maximum value from your social media presence? The experts at Emphasize Design offer all the social media services you need to get the job done right.