The Key to Business Social Media Marketing, whether you are a small business or a large company, chances are that you have heard that you need to be involved in social media to stay relevant in the modern era.

Many social media marketing agencies will tell you that what you need most are likes, followers, etc. They’ll tell you that you only need to hit a certain number of likes before seeing dramatic increases in sales.

The problem with this deceptive practice is that a “like” holds little inherent value. At best, it means that some people are seeing your promotions pop up as they scroll through their friend’s pictures and updates. Without an audience that is actually engaged in your page, those likes are just a number.

Social Media—The New Watering Hole

Another key to business social media is think of social media websites as if they were a watering hole on the savannah.Engaged audience

All sorts of different animals, of different ages and interests, come to drink. They are incredibly vigilant for predators. Or, in this case, companies who focus on using their social media to push sales. There is no surer way to scare off these wary creatures than to simply try to drive sales.

Instead, think of the watering hole of social media as a place of congregation, discussion, and reputation building. Studies have shown that it is very rare for a customer to buy something after spending time on a company’s social media page. You would be better off using an email campaign if your goal is merely to generate quick sales.

Why invest in social media marketing, then, if it doesn’t have a visible impact?

The answer is quite simple. Social media enhances your brand and brings you closer to your target audience. By engaging with your customers through social media, you are putting a face on your company that will greatly impact future buying decisions, even if they don’t immediately proceed to checkout.

The first step is to consider what to actually post. As mentioned above, blatant advertising campaigns reek of the marketing gimmicks that people generally avoid on social media. Instead, consider writing blog posts surrounding your area of expertise. This allows you to show off what you know, provide a free service to your audience, and give you a better reputation.

For example, if you own a small company that focuses on oil changes, consider writing an article on “Five ways to maximize your latest oil change,” or something to that effect. Statistics show that list posts are among the most clicked links on social media sites. There is a reason why these are often termed “click bait!” Even better, if you create a truly fascinating piece, your fans will be more likely to click the “share” button, spreading your message even further.

Man looking to his social network  - isolated over a white backgroundThe next step is working on audience engagement. While people might not use these sites to buy your products, they are more likely to recommend pages that they have liked to friends. Further, company pages serve as a great place for people to talk to other consumers about your product or service, and leave reviews. By being involved in conversations on a micro level, you can draw more attention to the users who are giving you stellar reviews, and address concerns of those who were less than impressed. This is a great way to turn even negative feedback into a selling point.

While these small interactions might not seem as impactful, they contribute to what is known as the “long tail.” Celebrities, bloggers, commercials, and other mass media outlets have a major (and noticeable) affect on your brand’s performance. However, the sum of all of the smaller outlets like forums, social media, and word of mouth add up to be just as effective.

Bottom-line – The Key to Business Social Media

The most important takeaway is that social media marketing is about so much more than the number of likes or followers your page has. Without interpersonal interactions, your company’s social media efforts only serve to create a sort of bulletin board for your company.

Step away from trying to sell and take the opportunity to build your brand’s reputation. Whether you run a mom and pop shop or an international company, visitors on your social media pages should feel a personal connection they would expect from a friend.