You might have seen that sites within the Facebook family were down on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019. Memes were created in the days following, national news outlets picked up the story, and users even turned to Twitter, another social media site for news from Facebook about what was happening. In Australia, a television news program even released official advice to not contact police about the outage after calls started pouring in.  It’s safe to say that the outage didn’t go unnoticed. The so-called panic or at least a general sense of discomfort felt during this time of up to 12 hours in many countries is a much larger sign than just the number of people who are avid selfie-takers and #foodie account admins. It was an indicator of just how big of a player sites like Facebook are in the world of business. It has been speculated conversationally in recent years that Facebook may be on a downturn, but this most recent event would indicate otherwise. The question is, if you aren’t using these platforms for your business, what are you missing out on?

These Sites Have a Huge Audience

According to Zephoria, there are over 2.32 billion users on Facebook currently and that number just keeps continuing to increase annually with a 9% increase just last year. Instagram follows just behind with over 1 billion users and counting. Taking a closer look at Facebook, each of these users is then connected with an average of 338 friends. Let’s say you decide to run a Facebook ad, when one of those billions of users interacts with your ad, there’s the possibility of hundreds of interconnected viewers who will then also see that ad. It’s huge.

Users Spend a Lot of Time on These Sites

Users access Facebook an average of 8 times a day followed by Instagram at 6 times a day. The New York Times reported that users spend around 1/16th of their waking time each day on Facebook at 50 minutes. This doesn’t even include other sites within the Facebook family such as Instagram or Pinterest. While this is still only about half of the average time spent watching television at 2.8 hours daily, put it in perspective of the fact that television came to homes nearly 80 years ago whereas early ideas of social media weren’t around until just 20 years ago with Facebook only around 15 years old. A sign that change is happening rapidly and our ideas about marketing our businesses need to be moving forward as well.

These Sites Allow You To Connect Directly To Your Consumers

In a poll, 63% of Facebook users expect companies to offer customer service for their business through Facebook. While 40% of Facebook users have never actually liked a Facebook page, one-third of users still interact with businesses on Facebook. With the power of interconnected friend profiles and targeted Facebook ads, it’s never been easier to get your business in front of not only more eyes than ever, but consumers who would actually be interested in exactly what you’re selling. Take for example the dwindling percentage of television viewers who just happen to view an ad for gutter repairs while watching re-runs of The Golden Girls. You might catch a few sales with a pricey ad. Or, would you rather target people who have already been researching gutter repairs in your city where you know your ad dollars will result in a higher number of conversions?

Social media sites not only allow you to reach more of the people you’d like to be reaching, they allow you to directly connect with them. 1 in 3 social media users would rather use social platforms for customer service than over telephone or email. It’s not only an easy way to provide excellent customer service, but you can reach out and interact with potential customers directly. For example, Starbucks uses social media to ask consumers how they feel about new products, resulting in high engagement, and LaCroix water interacts directly with customers on Instagram for User Generated Content that reaches their 163K followers.

Facebook is a Central Hub

Social media sites drive 31.24% of traffic on the web with Facebook responsible for a whopping 25% of that. Not only is Facebook responsible for driving traffic to outside websites, it is a huge part of the incoming traffic to other social media sites as well such as Pinterest, Youtube, and Twitter. One in five web page views in the U.S. starts on Facebook. In 2015, Facebook was responsible for influencing 52% of consumers purchases both online and offline. The platform serves as a central hub of the internet where you can easily connect information in a highly reactive and constantly updated environment.

The results are in! Social media is an important player in today’s business world. The mid-March outage was enough of a sign that the reach of these sites are so much more valuable than we thought even a mere 5 years ago. Bob Dylan was quoted, “The times they are a changin’”. Taking this seriously and adapting with them is a sure-fire way to make sure your business doesn’t get left behind.

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