Why should a business create content for social media? Well, let's start with a story. Inu and Neko is a dog and cat grooming business in New York City, run by lifelong pet lover Carlos. After settling in the city with his wife and dog, he quickly grew frustrated with the lack of specialized pet grooming services. Carlos started Inu and Neko to provide personalized services to dog and cat owners who value giving their pets a healthy lifestyle. Carlos opened a location, built a website, told his friends about his new business, hang some flyers, and waited. He figured his business would grow by word of mouth. Pet owners, especially dog owners, are always out chatting at the park, but New Yorkers are busy and many had their own grooming place already. Carlos started paying for advertising which brought in some customers, but wasn't cheap for a new business. If he couldn't figure out how to bring in more clients soon, the dream might end before it truly began. One day, one of his customers asked him if he had seen the thread about organic pet food in the Greenwich Village Pet Owners Group on Facebook. "They were wondering where to buy a certain kind of organic food that you sell," she told him. "You should jump on that and let them know." Carlos hadn't yet planned out a social media strategy, but it couldn't hurt to offer some advice. He created an account for Inu and Neko and started answering questions in the Facebook group. Someone asked him if he was on Instagram, so he created an account and started posting photos, finding that the ones he posted of the clients' dogs and cats paired with a little story about him, got the most likes. Carlos joined Twitter and shared resources and blog posts about pet grooming and healthy lifestyles and soon gained hundreds of followers who are pet owners with the same interests and values as him and his business. Carlos started making tutorial videos for YouTube and TikTok and began selling grooming supplies on Pinterest. Soon pet owners in Greenwich Village began booking appointments, not because they saw an ad, but because they knew the story behind Inu and Neko. They knew the values it stood for, saw Carlos as a knowledgeable expert in his field, and wanted to partake in the experience. Why should a business create content for social media? Because social media is where the people are and where the conversations are happening, and as a business, you want to be in the midst of it. Gone are the days of a business gaining customers with the use of a TV spot and a good jingle, or making endless cold calls or sending mailers hoping the right person will see your ad and take action. Carlos at Inu and Neko did these things but it wasn't until he started engaging with people on social media that he saw a return. Because, once he started providing content of value, answering pet owners' questions, providing resources to his followers, sharing cute pet pictures, his audience found him. Like Carlos, we always want our business to focus on customer engagement, and social media can help us achieve our engagement goals in four ways. First, social media content helps increase our brand awareness, recognition, and trust. We want people to know who we are and what we do. By posting valuable content consistently, we show our customers that we're present and responsive, which also builds trust as well. Social media is like an active ongoing conversation. If we are in the conversation, people will notice us, become more familiar with our voice, learn what content we tend to post, and may like, comment, or even follow us. Second, social media content provides value for our customers or followers. This could be by letting them know about the products that will help them, sharing information that will inform them or telling them a story that will inspire them. By providing valuable content instead of sales pitches, followers know that the business sees them as humans to interact with. Valuable content should be sharable as well, so the sharer can provide their followers something of value too. Social media content allows us to connect with our customers and help them. Social media is a great tool to use to connect with people on a relatable, authentic level. By sharing our business's stories, photos of our employees, or behind the scenes video followers are able to identify with and relate to our business because they see the human side of it. Even through posting reactions to pop culture that may not even relate to our industry, businesses are signaling that there are people behind the accounts. Social media also provides a great opportunity for real-time customer service as well. Fourth, social media content gets people to become customers, fans, and advocates. We want customers to purchase or interact with our products or services, but we also want them to become our biggest fans. Social media is a great way to create initial awareness for customers, and once they follow us, we can engage with them with valuable relevant content. They can buy our products and services through social media and contact us for help. Once they become loyal fans, they will then share our content with their followers and become new cheerleaders for our brand. With these benefits in mind, let's take a closer look at how interactions on social media work.