Gone are the good old days where all you had to do was build a better mousetrap for your business to stand out. Now, it’s all about location, location, location; and the hottest place to be in for any business is social media.

Facebook has over 1.44 billion active monthly users worldwide. Twitter has 320 million active monthly users, Instagram has 400 million, and Linkedin has over 100 million. Social media isn’t just a fad anymore. It’s an essential tool for any business to establish their presence and reach the most number of people.

But other than the fact that almost everyone is all social media, what other benefits can businesses get from having active social media accounts? Is social media something all businesses should have or are the benefits limited to B2C companies?

How Businesses Benefit From Social Media

First and foremost, social media is essential for any business, whether it’s B2B or B2C. Having the appropriate social media presence gives businesses an appearance of legitimacy. Businesses that don’t have any social media profiles seem questionable, mainly because they’re not as visible or approachable as their more social counterparts.

With the number of social media users growing worldwide, it’s also becoming easier for customers and business owners to reach each other through social networks. Social networks have also been upgrading the usability and design of their features to attract more users; making social profiles an attractive and more intuitive alternative to search engines.

Social media is a powerful platform for information distribution and engagement. With a strong community and loyal following, you can easily have a steady and responsive audience for your content. Engagement from customers also helps in creating up-to-date and cost effective market research.

Last but not the least, social media is also gives businesses the power to harness word of mouth marketing at a larger scale. Studies have shown that over 70% of buyers are influenced by peer reviews and recommendation on social media. By creating a community of loyal brand advocates, you can create a customer pool that continuously promotes, markets, buys and sells your products to their friends and followers.

Long live business websites!

With social media becoming an indispensable tool for businesses, does this mean businesses don’t need websites anymore?

On the contrary, having a strong social media presence makes a website even more important for businesses. Despite the versatility of social media, it still can’t provide all the information and the features that a website. And even though social presence can give businesses an air of legitimacy, nothing establishes a company’s name and reputation like a dedicated website.

Another advantage websites still have over social media is the content lifespan. Best case scenario, tweets have a half-life of 60 minutes but in most cases it’s less than that. Facebook posts only has a 24 hour window before it fades into obscurity. Website content on the other hand can keep their content visible for as long as possible, this allows their primary message to reach more people further for a longer period of times.

Lastly, nothing still converts potential customers as well as website. That’s because most people use networks to interact and share information; not to buy. Social networks are used primarily in the first three levels of a sales funnel. This shift actually helps websites to be more focused on messaging, strengthening their copywriting and sales as opposed to lead generation.

Ain’t Your Momma’s Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing has evolved from a simple posting platform with a captive audience into a noisy marketplace where only the loudest, smartest, and the savviest of marketers survive. Social media marketing services that just posts your catalogue or an ad is no longer enough.

A social media marketing plan has to catch a potential customer’s short attention span, keep them engaged, and encourage them to share your content to reach more people. It has to make the most out of each piece of content and it has to adapt to the changing needs of customers.

And social media marketing isn’t exactly free anymore. Social networks are now monetizing their services to business in exchange for reach and conversions. If you want to reach more people beyond your community, you have to pay for access. If you want your posts to be highlighter, you have to pay for ads. If you want your content to have a longer half-life, you have to pay for promotion.

With the monetization of social media and the increasingly sophisticated demands of users, social media services isn’t something that should be left to the hands of amateurs. To have a cost-effective marketing campaign, you’ll need a strategy that monitors the effectiveness of each piece of content and leads them to a marketing funnel that maximizes conversion.

Social media is a complicated beast to tame. Simply posting and occasionally commenting isn’t going to be enough to maximize the benefits social networks can bring. All businesses need to be social. But if you want to survive and come out on top, you’ll need a skilled social media manager at the helm.