JB Communications presented to Kenner Business Association (KBA) on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 in Kenner, Louisiana. Jacquie Bonano, owner of JB Communications, LLC and Shop Local Nola, discusses the sheer necessity of social media and the love/hate relationship businesses have with outlets such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. The good news is that billions of people use social media every day to discover new restaurants, stores, services, and tourist destinations. With the right tools, social media can be a powerful and cost-effective marketing ally.  

Businesses Love / Hate Relationship with Social Media

Before we review why social media is a necessity for businesses and building business relationships, let’s discuss why many businesses and consumers hate it so much. It can be time consuming, overwhelming, stressful, frustrating, and manipulative. There’s a lot of bullying, false accusations, and rumors that make their way through the networks. For a business, social media is primarily an investment in time, and money to manage it properly. So why should a business even hop on the social media bandwagon?

Quite simply, with 81% of US adults utilizing YouTube and 69% actively on Facebook, businesses must invest in social media. The social media chart examines Social Media Usage by Adults, ages 18 and over. There are a lot of questions about TikTok. It’s definitely 1 to watch, but currently – No user demographic prefers TikTok as its favorite app. Users between the ages of 16 and 24 rank Instagram as their top choice: 22.8% of males, and 25.6% of females. Only 8.9% of female users in this age demographic selected TikTok as their top choice, and just 5.4% of males.

Amount of Time People Spend on Social Media

Facebook is the largest social media platform with approximately 3 billion active users worldwide. That’s 39% of the world’s population. It is still the platform that most people spend the most time on, with an average daily time spent of 33 minutes. TikTok may have bypassed this usage time by the time you read this article, as it is currently the fastest growing platform.

News Consumption and Social Media

While it is no secret that consumers spend a lot of time on social media. It is interesting to take a look at what they are spending their time viewing on social media. Aside from the obvious, keeping up with connections and engaging with brands, news has become extremely important. Studies report that nearly half of Americans regularly receive their news on social media (pew.org). Nearly a third of them use Facebook, followed by YouTube at 22 percent. Interestingly, even though there is a high concentration of social media in this respect, there is not a high confidence level in its accuracy.

Why is this important to a tourism professional? Because over the past 18 months, news of shutdowns, Covid hospitalizations and restrictions, crime, natural disasters, and other negative factors have hindered travel. If consumers are looking to social media for news, travel and leisure, it is important that you align your business and help direct the narrative.

Social Media and Organic Reach

Social media platforms are free, to an extent. The price you pay as a consumer is offering up your information; its data mining. The artificial intelligence is tracking your habits, spending patterns, and interests. Organic (unpaid) reach for businesses quickly declines as more users adapt to the platform. Social media companies are in the business to make money. You must be willing to spend a percentage of your marketing budget on social media to reach your target audience. Today, Facebook business pages’ organic reach can easily be less than 2% of a page’s followers.

LinkedIn – Is it Worth It?

LinkedIn users don’t spend a lot of time on the social platform, approximately 17 minutes a day. Why waste your time? If you are in sales, targeting B2B customers, or recruiting employees – you should be using LinkedIn. Fifty percent of its users make more than $75,000 a year. You should use LinkedIn as a virtual networking tool.

Here are a few tips on best practices for LinkedIn:

  • Be selective on who you choose to connect with. Only accept invitations from people you would ordinarily network with.
  • Use the articles feature on LinkedIn to post blog type information with links to your website.
  • Tag people and company pages relative to your posts for greater organic reach and encourage engagement
  • Use LinkedIn Search Tools to identify potential networking opportunities
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups and actively participate

Social Media Tips

Here are a few tips to help you navigate social media for you and your business:

  • Identify your target demographics and focus on the respective platforms.
  • Do not rely on one platform.
  • Change up your post types if you use multiple platforms.
  • Create your own hashtag for your brand. Research and utilize additional trending hashtags.
  • Make a habit of linking back to your website in posts.
  • Tag people or brands that are relevant to your post. It essentially links them to your post.
  • Utilize pixel or tracking plugins on your website to collect data for conversion tracking, re-marketing, and building audiences for future ads.
  • Plan ahead. Prepare engaging content on monthly basis and adjust the content based on the medium.
  • Set aside a budget for social media marketing.
  • Improve your organic reach by joining groups and sharing your content. You can even create your own group.
  • Encourage reviews from satisfied customers. Share the positive reviews on a regular basis.
  • Engage with other people and vendors by leaving comments or contributing to a post.
  • Use the tools and features of varying social media to expand your organic reach, such as Facebook Events, LinkedIn Live, or Instagram Reels.
  • Reputation Management. Respond to positive and negative engagement. Don’t forget to monitor your branded hashtag.