Recently I talked to a friend who is thinking of taking over a small online business startup. She said, “if I do this startup thing, I need to talk to you. As you know, I am so totally not into Facebook and such.”
A few minutes later she told me about her teenage son who is obviously in a science and experimenting phase. He finds a lot of experiments and explanations on Youtube which he then tries out for himself at home, like how to cut a glass bottle without a glass cutter or how to melt metal.
And I realized how much my generation or even people a little older who did not grow up with social media are missing out for the simple reason that they do not know what they can do with all that “Facebook and such”.
And I am not at all talking about only marketing reasons.
Yes, I signed up for Facebook a few years back because I co-founded a startup, but the main reason for me to be on Facebook is not marketing – I am doing most of that on other social networks 🙂
Since I published the first version of this post, I have come a long way. Recent worldwide events led me to use social media in new way or become aware of more use cases for social media that I participate in. So this second version of this post got slightly longer. Instead of the original 11 advantages of using social media, I came up with a list of 24 reasons why I think you should be using social media.
Here are 24 ideas for using social media.
1. Keep In Touch
This is the one reason why I used Social Media before I started my own company: To stay in touch with people or even connect to new people. I used LinkedIn (or the German Language equivalent Xing) as an automatically updated address book. This way I always have the option to get in touch with former colleagues or fellow students.
This comes especially handy since I worked for some companies in other cities. If I visit the area, I can easily get back in touch and ask if some of my old acquaintances would be up for dinner or coffee while I am around.
Even better for staying in touch for me is Facebook. While networking in the startup community, I met quite a lot of people from all around the world. On Facebook, I do not lose the connection completely. I can communicate on an unintrusive level. I see what they are up to and once in a while talking to some of them in comments.
2. Get in Touch
I have not only made new friends in Social Media. I have also used various social media platforms to get in touch with people I did not know before. Especially on Twitter, a short tweet can open doors. Whether it is asking for a guest blogging opportunity or cooperation, talking to an influencer, or asking for advice, Twitter proved to be an easy and uncomplicated way of starting a conversation that you then can move on to email or skype.
But other social networks like LinkedIn also offer multiple chances of getting in touch with other people. It is more a question of coming up with the courage than that you should not do it. Most of the time people are very open to being approached by new people on social media. Just stay friendly and do not start promoting your service in the first sentence…
3. Build an Audience
There is no doubt about it that Social Media is a great place to build an audience for yourself and your business. It is your following that listens to you and stays with you. If done right, you can start, nurture and grow an audience for various purposes with Social Media – and it is your audience to utilize over and over again.
Social networking sites allow any business or freelancer to market their business with a very low budget.
And you know what is best about building an audience on social media? You can start growing your audience long before you start your business or your product is ready. And then once you have something to sell, more people will already listen to you.
That is awesome!
4. Build a brand and a brand reputation
As Jeff Bezos of Amazon put it: Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.
And social media allows you to “see” what people are talking about your brand, you can influence it and avoid falling into traps in your brand building.
Great work in Social Media can help you paint a picture of yourself and your business that you want the world to have. You can influence how you are perceived and monitor what people say about you.
In today’s social media world, there are influencers who never influenced anywhere else than on these social media sites. Their brand only exists because of what they do on social media. And that power can be used by anyone to build their brand.
5. Increase brand awareness
By building an audience for your brand, you can also increase brand awareness. Social Media for business can be a great equalizer where money does not always win over great branding. With a little knowledge and endurance, you have the power to compete with huge brands by simply getting it right.
And do not get me wrong. No brand needs to be on any social network just to make a handful of people aware of them. Understanding ONE social network will be enough for most brands to tremendously increase brand awareness. Just make sure that in this one social network, your work is consistent towards painting your brand picture the right way.
6. Do Research
Most social networks have a great search engine that helps you find the right content and information for almost any topic. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest – you name it, whatever topic and type of content you are looking for: choose the right network and you are certain to find what you are looking for.
As mentioned in the preamble, even teenagers can find a ton of valuable information – not only for their homework or studies but also some great experiments and how-to videos. It is not all just chit chat what is going on. Social Media is gaining on Google as the go-to place for research.
Every social network works in a different way as a place for research. You have to choose the network according to your own preferences and according to the questions and the audience you are asking.
7. Keep informed
Do you want to stay up to date on what is happening in your niche? Follow the influencers, competitors and partners, listen to them, check what they share and join conversations. There is almost no better way to get all the important news and ideas and stay in touch with the topic and the people talking about it. Twitter is a great network for this. Facebook also does a good job if you follow the right Fanpages and your niche is active on Facebook.
I have Twitter lists on marketing, my Pinterest feed tells me a lot that is happening in the blogging community and Facebook groups are always actively discussing some topics that are on the minds of people from our marketing and blogging niche.
8. Connect with people
In the end, social media is still social. You can connect with new people via social media for almost any reason.
There are Facebook groups for dog owners – there is a tight-knit community of Newfoundland dog owners on Instagram. In case you did not know, we have a black-and-white Newfoundland Dog and we are totally into this brand having had Newfoundlands in our family all our lives.
There are Facebook groups for gardening and painting stones, new moms and rescue dogs. I have met people on Twitter that I later met in real life. You can find dates, friends and just like-minded people.
Social media is social – you just have to be open to meeting new people without meeting them face-to-face.
You cannot only keep in touch with people via social media. I have made some acquaintances on social networks that feel like friendships even though we have never met in person. These relationships are a great starting point for taking the conversation to the next level, either meet in person at an event or for coffee or take the dogs for a walk.
Social Media and networking sites are great for building relationships.
You can use the power of relationships in your business too. The stronger the relationship to your audience the more will you be able to turn these connections into new business.
10. Grow Traffic
Social media marketing is a great “tool” to get traffic to your content, blog or website. Once you are building your audience, you can share valuable information – or links to the information which you publish on your own website or blog. Interested followers will gladly click on the shared links and thus become visitors to your website (=traffic).
Social media has been the key to traffic success for many blogs – including ours.
11. Build an email list
Yes, you can transfer social media contacts to your email list. And you should, too.
The path usually is: Find people on social media, share a link to your content on social media, ask website visitors to subscribe to your email list.
Either you offer a lead magnet (some piece of valuable information) people can download in exchange for their email address directly on your social media accounts, or you get people to your website and offer a lead magnet or a signup form there.
An audience in social media is usually not as valuable as subscribers to your email list. But you can use your social audience to help you build your email list faster. For instance, you can tweet about your lead magnet.
12. Find leads
I have heard people voicing doubts about the value of social media for lead generation. But I think these doubters are wrong.
Image Source: Sprout Social
Of course, you can get leads from social media. Sometimes you just need more than a promotional message to get these leads.
On-topic groups are great to find leads. Or Twitter conversations.
Do you need more ideas on how to get leads from social media? Read my article on how to get leads from Twitter!
13. Get inspiration
Sometimes when I am running out of ideas for new blog posts, I simply browse around social media and see what others from my niche write about. Just seeing the content from others usually gives me a ton of new ideas on what to write about. That does not mean I copy anything; that is not the way to go. But I get inspiration and unanswered questions I can tackle in my next post.
Also, conversations, especially on Twitter, are often a great starting point for a new post. Jonathan has done that in a couple of his articles.
Whenever I am running out of ideas for new blog posts, my first place to look for inspiration is social media.
I check my marketing Twitter lists, I check some Facebook brand accounts. Facebook groups always are an inspiration for topics anyway. And my Pinterest feed throws topic ideas at me all the time!
How do you find your inspiration for new blog posts if it is not social media?
14. Find a hobby
No joke! Do you have some spare time that you want to use to do something that is fun, entertaining and maybe even brings you some new friends? Social media could be the place to look.
I recently got invited to some awesome new Facebook groups. I have not made a decision for commitment yet. But these groups could be a great start for a new hobby.
Need an example: One group is all about Walking Stones. That is a crazy trend of painting on stones, putting them out into the wild were people can find them and take them to a new place. When people find the stones they (hopefully) post it on social media. Since I love hiking, I find this really cute and I have actually seen some painted stones on some of my recent hikes. But since I am a moron when it comes to painting, I am not all in (yet.)
The lesson from this is: There are so many hobbies out there, that our parents did not know existed (or rather these hobbies did not exist without social media). If you have not found what you like, just browse around and keep your eyes open. There is a fun hobby to be found by you, too!
15. Communicate with friends or colleagues
I know, sometimes too much communication can be annoying. But social media has made communication in groups so much easier!
And I admit that I sometimes love my little chitchat in a group of like-minded people.
I have chat-groups with friends that are using the same gym as me. I communicate with the people from our search and rescue dog team. I have a chat group with the friends I often go on hikes. I have a chat with the friends that I meat for the morning dog walks. And all these cha groups help me not go crazy lonely while I work solo on my couch.
16. Express an opinion
There are days when I am rather going crazy with everybody having an opinion on social media and social media giving everybody a voice.
But this can be a good thing.
With all the craziness going on in the world, sometimes it can be good to make a public statement with just posting a single image or one sentence.
And sometimes when I feel I am going crazy, just writing about it into Facebook can help… even though reading all the other opinions on Twitter can also drive me nuts. Jonathan can relate because he then receives my cry-for-help messages: “I should not go on Twitter.”
17. Follow the news
Yes, I read some news sites. But you know where I also go for news? Twitter.
While the news sites I visit are my personal preselection, Twitter gives me more. I can see trending hashtags, search for keywords or even follow hashtags that are not yet trending but will give me al the updates around an even happening.
This way, I can follow news about sports, current events like the current corona pandemic, and even get more information about the protests from the black community in the USA this June 2020.
Facebook also gives me additional information, as some of my friends share their favorite sources.
This way social media is a very informative addition to the news sites that I regularly visit.
18. Follow People, Brands and Topics
I am not the person to follow an endless number of brands on social media. But a select few I like to follow. And doing so on social media is much less of a hassle than visiting their website and looking for news there.
You have to see which brands are on which social network. For many brands that I am interested in my favorite channel is Instagram. But this also depends on your preferences.
The same way I discover news and information, I can use social media to share information too. I can share links to news – or links to our blog posts. I can answer questions in groups and on Twitter. All this will also help me to how my audience, connect to people, and build a relationship. Because all the aspects of social media work hand in hand – they are never stand-alone benefits.
Image Source: Kim Garst
20. “Stalk” friends, stars and brands
Ok. when I say “stalk” in combination with friends that sounds a little weird. But basically, I can see where my friends are, what activities they shared. I can also follow stars and brands with their stories.
Nobody HAS to share information on social media. Whatever you share should be for the public or at least for the audience that you shared it with.
Why is stalking people a benefit? Because we can get a ton of motivation from it.
Your friend just completed a run? I have been inspired to go for a run because I saw such information shared by a friend.
Your friend went to a concern? Did you think about going to a concert too? Book your tickets!
Social media can allow us to share experiences even though we did not really share them…
21. Find a job
A friend of mine always lets everybody know when he is looking for a new job. And then everybody can think about people we know, who might have something to offer or he should just connect to.
And that is just how it works in real life.
If you are looking for a job, let the world know – you never know who of your friends and acquaintances can help you with an introduction. Because let’s be honest: The best jobs never go to strangers. People like to use recommendations to fill crucial positions!
22. Brings the world together
I admit that I am really bad at staying in touch with people if I cannot just ask them out for a fun evening and some beer or wine. Just calling for the sake of staying in touch always gets postponed until it is rather too late and I lost contact.
Social media allows me to stay connected and even grow connections all over the world.
I work and live in Germany. My clients are all over the world – why should my friends not be?
23. Allows you to sell stuff
From a blogger’s point of view, this one is important. Because I do have to earn a living. But you should not start out your social media career by trying to sell stuff.
That said, of course, you can sell still via social media or earn some side-hustle money. You just have to learn how your audience reacts to the promotion and how you should promote to make them click!
Image Source: Smart Insights
24. Get entertained and waste time
I am not so sure if this is a benefit or a downside. But I can find endless entertainment on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
Pinterest can be used as an endless magazine filled with all your favorite topics. Twitter will give me real-time posts about current events around the world. On Facebook, I can communicate with hundreds of people in groups talking about my hobbies and interests.
Sometimes, I just have to stay off social media because I have to get some work done and can’t waste so much time – even though I would find that highly entertaining.
Final words on the advantages of using social media
By not being on social media you are missing out. And while you sure should give a little of your personality, it is not at all necessary to put all your life online and for everyone to see and comment on. There is so much more to social media than becoming an influencer or showing off a fancy lifestyle.
Even if you stay more or less silent or in the background of things, you can still profit in various ways from using social media.