You’ve probably heard about Pope Francis’ TED Talk video that was shown in April. The 18-minute video became a worldwide sensation. The Pope really knows how to use social media to speak to his audience. He has almost 11 million followers on Twitter and around 4 million on Instagram.

The Pope’s presence on social media illustrates the ability of the platform to reach people. It has become an invaluable tool to help change the way people think about his leadership. Social media allows him to speak directly to an audience he may not have been able to reach any other way, and that is the crux of the power of social media. So, the question is, if you’re not on social media, why not? The Pope can harness the potential of social media, and you can too.

Even if you already have a presence on social media sites, you can still work to improve your reach. Whether you’re representing yourself or an organization, here are some reasons you should be maximizing your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites:

To Spread the Good News

It’s easy to sign up for any of the social media sites. But once you’re on, how do you get people to follow you? Sure, your mom will probably follow you, but you want to expand your reach past people you already know. Getting people to follow you isn’t difficult, but it takes time, so be patient.

Rather than worrying about who is following you at first, look for people who you want to follow. Finding like-minded individuals gives you a window into learning how to attract followers. See how many times a week they post items, and pay attention to what they post. Experienced social media users know that engaging content is the most important way to draw a crowd. You’ll find that successful users post content consistently to keep people coming back for more.

Also, make sure you’re inviting your website visitors to follow you on social media. It’s easy to add links on your website to your accounts on social media sites. Write informative blogs on your website and highlight them on social media with links back to your website. That creates a two-way street of attracting more people to your website, and website visitors checking out your social media posts.

To Give and Receive

Social media is an inexpensive and direct line of communication to your followers. Many professionals use social media to not only catch up on what their friends and colleagues are doing, but also to use them as a resource. For instance, if you post a question on Facebook about employee benefits, your followers will be able to chime in with their experiences and advice to help you better understand the issue. Some posts on Facebook can be seen by both your friends and their friends. This further extends your reach to attract followers.

To Speak With Authority

Establishing yourself as an expert in your field is a prime way to differentiate yourself from other social media users and attract a larger following. Jump on a #hashtag to provide insight on a trending topic. Also, don’t be afraid to re-post relevant content from other people. It demonstrates to your followers that you know what’s worth reading, and can help you build a relationship with the original poster.

To Build Relationships

Speaking of relationships, social media allows you to stay top of mind with your followers. They get to know you and your organization in a more personal environment than they would from traditional marketing, like a newspaper ad or direct mail. Social media, when done right, gives you the ability to create long-term relationships with your followers. You’re more like a friend than a marketer. Think about who you can talk to on your social media sites – leads, customers, suppliers, employees, industry experts. One post can not only reach them, but also be relevant to all of them.



To Use Funds Wisely

Social media can be an effective marketing tool to grow your organization. While posting content doesn’t cost anything, you still need to pay people to take the time to develop your online strategy. The question is whether the time and money you spend for online marketing pays off.

The Web marketing firm, Hubspot, surveyed 972 marketing professionals who reported that over 50 percent of their leads came from their website blogs. Close behind was social media with 45{cd266c1509fca34f59dc93da7daf12a6ee52c6401aabb2126e757d9de7c223fc} of leads generated. To give you an idea of the effectiveness of lead generation, that same survey found that tradeshows were the most expensive way to create leads. Only 19 percent of all leads came from trade shows, but think of all the expense that went into them – booth space, booth cost, flights/hotel, staff time.

It’s crazy to think some people sitting in front of a computer have the power to generate over twice as many leads at a fraction of the cost of trade shows. But it’s true. You can use social media marketing to garner leads and give you a better chance to convert them to sales.

To Invite Feedback

One of the most powerful tools of social media is to provide real-time customer service in an open and transparent way. Internet users put great stock in how companies deal with issues they post on your sites. Think about how important customer reviews are when you’re deciding on making a purchase on Amazon. If you get negative feedback on your product or service on your Facebook or Twitter feed, don’t let it sit there. Answer it quickly and honestly. Even a simple, “Thanks for your feedback,” is better than ignoring the complaint. Negative comments give you the ability to strengthen a relationship and even help you identify how you can improve your product.

To Establish Your Presence

Harnessing social media isn’t a battle of good vs. evil. It’s requires a disciplined approach to expand your following and help you gain influence. It’s a constant and evolving process to establish yourself as an expert in your field. But it takes time. Even Pope Francis has work to do to grow his audience. After all, Kim Kardashian West has almost five times as many Twitter followers as the Pope.