Logging onto Facebook and Instagram has never been as spammy as it is now. The first thing you see is an ad, and there's no escaping them. With the revolution of the internet and social media accounts, businesses have taken notice and are jumping on board (if they haven't already). These days, it's rarer for a company NOT to be on Facebook than vice versa. The real question is: is it a necessary evil? As a business owner, do you need to create a presence on the many social media platforms?
In a word, yes. To gain credibility and a relationship with your customers, you have to be on social media. The average person spends almost two hours a day on social media. If you are not active, growing your following, and building relationships with your followers, you are doing it wrong. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the many different platforms out there, and the different functions they have. You don't have to do it all. Pick a few social media accounts to have and be active on, and that will be plenty.
Choosing the social media platforms you want to be on is tricky. There are so many of them, the most popular being: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Periscope, Pinterest, and Tumblr, to name a few. There is room for every kind of business on each of these, so rest assured that you can find a corner online for your business wherever you choose.
Social media platforms are not unaware of the opportunity they provide to business owners, however. They have grabbed the bull by the horns, and created the ultimate experience for companies looking to expand their outreach. Facebook, for example, has a wide variety of "promotion" opportunities, where you can boost your posts for $5 and they will help place it in front of your ideal customers. There are still many ways that you can boost your business on Facebook for free, but for them the real revenue is in the advertising now, so that's where their loyalty lays.
Snapchat and Instagram are for photo sharing. Instagram has a concept like Facebook; the users post their pictures, and they get sorted on a timeline-like feed, where other users can see pictures from accounts that they follow. Snapchat is a little different. Instead of posting your pictures on a feed, you can send them directly to your friends for up to 10 seconds, and then they disappear. You can also post a "story," which your friends can view if they choose. Instagram is notorious for spammers and direct sales marketers. So many accounts have bots that troll certain hashtags and comment on random pictures to try and gain followers. The problem with this is that it really desensitizes the users to advertisements. It is very possible to find marketing success on either of these platforms, you just have to know how to work it.
Pinterest is very similar to Facebook when it comes to advertising. You can pay to "promote" specific pins that you want to reach more people. You have the option to promote your pins in order to grow engagement, or increase your traffic to your blog. By increasing engagement you are growing your audience, and by increasing traffic to your page you could be increasing your sales. It's nice that they give different options like that, because every business is different. It's important to know what your objective is, and determine how to reach your goals by using these services.
There's no doubt that social media has been a huge game changer for businesses, especially in the last few years. With growing capabilities and knowledge, these companies can help you reach your ideal client, and help you increase your conversions. As it is with anything in life, it's not free. You have to decide what its worth to you, and go for it. If you aren't already on social media you are far behind. There is a place for every business on social media, and you should absolutely claim yours.