How Social Media for Business Is Different from Personal Social Media
Updated By Patrick Oney on July 8, 2020
Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in social media marketing or you’re looking for ways to utilize social media for business growth and exposure, you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive article, we cover the following topics:
- The evolution of social media and what it means for the business world
- Five key differences between personal and professional social media
- Actionable tips that you can use to successfully harness the power of social media for business
Grab a beverage and something to take notes with, because we’re diving right in!
The Evolution of Social Media
Social media has come a long way from its rudimentary MySpace origins. With the release of Facebook in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg started a digital revolution of social communication. What began as a fairly simple way to stay connected with old friends has since exploded into a multifunctional conglomeration of different social networks that provide users with an instant, effortless way to accomplish a long list of objectives:
- Find and connect with calculated love interests
- Engage in virtual communities filled with people who share your interests
- Plan and host events online and in the real world
- Stream and share movies and videos
- Network with other professionals in your industry
- Participate in public discussions and seek advice from experts online
- Buy and sell goods, services, and even real estate
- Share creative works and seek feedback from a like-minded community
- Seek physical and behavioral help from virtual healthcare practitioners
In just the last decade, social media has completely transformed the way we communicate, shop, acquire information, and so on. It has become an undeniably dominant part of our society that will continue to expand and fulfill a variety of different functions.
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
According to a report published by Statista, the social media business is booming with 2.62 billion users across the globe, and this number is projected to rise to more than three billion users by 2021.1 In the United States alone, there are over 200 million social media users.2 So, what do these numbers mean for businesses? To put it simply, the current state of social media creates the potential for phenomenal growth for businesses of all kinds. The key focal points of what social media has the power to do for business include the following:
- Company exposure is no longer restricted by print advertising and cold outreach. Professional social media practices can be utilized to drastically expand a company’s customer base with a significantly wider reach.
- New startups and smaller companies now have the means necessary to build brand familiarity on a limited budget and compete with mass corporations that have dominated their industry for decades due to a sheer lack of accessible alternative options.
- Companies of all types and sizes have the potential to make personal connections with consumers to expand their audience and improve customer loyalty.
- It’s easier than ever for brands to obtain valuable insight and feedback from real customers without having to conduct polls, surveys, and focus groups, which can be a big strain on company hours and spending.
- Businesses have the opportunity to stay present in the minds of their consumers by being active on various networks.
The bottom line is this: Companies can utilize a strong, consistent social media presence to reach a larger audience, humanize their company, and benefit their bottom line with an increase in sales, brand familiarity, and customer loyalty.
5 Important Differences Between Personal and Professional Social Media
Professional social media marketing can become a company’s most profitable asset—if done correctly. There is a fine line between personal and professional use of social media, and if that line isn’t respected, companies can easily damage their reputation online. Use these five key differences and actionable tips to master social media for business and succeed on a variety of different networking platforms.
The most obvious difference between personal and professional social media is the objective behind the strategy. Personal objectives can range anywhere from connecting with friends to receiving solicited praise, but professional objectives should serve a greater purpose. Social media for business should clearly be geared toward achieving goals and getting a return on investment. These objectives might include promoting a new product, acquiring feedback, or making personal connections with current customers. Before you begin marketing a business online, it's imperative that you first create a clear list of objectives. What do you want to achieve by using social media for business? Once you know what your objectives are, you can plan effective, transparent content that will aid in achieving your goals.
You may not have any problem starting conversations on your personal profile, but it's a whole new ballgame once you've logged into your business profile. Active engagement is crucial for keeping followers interested in your brand and building customer relations, but it's not always easy for companies to do. Place engagement at the forefront of your social media objectives and brainstorm topic ideas you can use to start meaningful threads of customer interaction on your profile. Use questions, images, and other thought-provoking media to improve levels of engagement and stand out in a sea of posts and pictures.
Unless you're a social media influencer, it's likely that you haven't had to put much thought into your personal social media activity. You post a selfie, your friends like it, you share a video, a discussion begins. That's all fine and good because your business doesn't depend on it. Effective professional social media requires a detailed strategy that incorporates what, when, where, and how to post your content. Creating a successful social media strategy requires an abundance of market research, data gathering, and an understanding of your target audience. This is why there's such a high demand for social media marketing professionals. If you're pursuing a career in social media for business, provide yourself with ample time to educate yourself on the inner workings of the industry. Earn your degree online and use your knowledge to grow businesses of all types and sizes.
Another obvious difference between personal and professional use is the promotional aspect. Social media gives businesses the opportunity to create paid advertisements that can be used to reach millions of people around the world with the intent to sell products, spread awareness, and obtain new customers. Take full advantage of paid advertisements to grow your company with cost-effective pay-per-click ads. Just make sure you know what you're doing or hire a professional; otherwise, you could waste a lot of money on inadequate attempts.
Content is king, especially on social media and especially for businesses. A powerful content strategy is vital to the success of professional social media efforts. Unlike personal social content, business content should look and sound professional, include high-quality graphics, and be consistent with the brand. Businesses should use a balanced mix of images, text, videos, and other forms of content to promote their brand, provide helpful information to their followers, and share the magic that happens "behind the scenes."