The number of social media users may have leveled off since 2013, according to Pew Research Center surveys taken between 2005 and 2013, but that’s still a staggering 65 percent of American adults, a 1,000 percent increase over the span of a decade.

Rather than being in decline, these figures suggest we have all integrated social media into our lives. It may not be the buzz term of the quarter, but social media is still an integral part of how we do business.

Social media allows us an unprecedented connection with our customers, clients, and audience, letting us keep a continual watch on how our brands are perceived. This allows a speed and adaptability that old-world business just can’t match.

In today’s word-of-mouth, hyper-competitive digital world, social media may be more important than ever before. We talked to Dmitry Oreshko, creator of the social media search engine Social-Searcher.com to learn more about the importance of knowing how you’re perceived on social media.

Social media marketing has been the buzzword of the past couple of years. Is social media as important as it was when you started Social-Searcher.com?

A few years ago social networks were considered more like an additional promotional resource, which can be helpful in growing customers’ awareness of the brand. Today, most of the social giants moved forward in the on-board e-commerce by introducing “Buy” buttons and virtual shops for the desktop and mobile apps.

This social selling boom leveled up the entire social media industry by reducing the number of selling funnel steps, leading to more engagement and greater revenue. At the same time, it’s a very challenging way for the networks not to overwhelm users with direct sales offers and keep on facilitating relationships as a primary goal.

With so much competition in the world, how can brand perception help a company stand out from the competition?

While modern companies can offer almost similar pricing for the products, active community and public recommendations can be your missing trigger to finally close the deals. Building up the trust with your audience is the right way for taking a lead in competition. Start sharing your experience via social accounts and showing your openness as well as the human face of the company.

What are some different buzz words people can look out for, to better understand how they’re perceived on social media?

Social monitoring of their name, product or brand should be enough in this case, all the rest is up to the service analytics: mentions with negative or positive buzz words in the text will be identified in appropriate ways and become available for the sentiment filtering.

Mobile technology continues to grow and spread. What are some reasons mobile makes social media marketing more important than ever?

People spend more than half of the time accessing social networks via mobile apps. Surfing content on the go and adding media files like photos or videos directly to your social account makes mobile phones a perfect environment for the social activity. Social solutions are also successfully competing with specialized apps by providing calls, video calls, voice messaging and other mobile-focused features, proving their domination in user engagement.

Another great opportunity for the social media marketers in the mobile era is highly targeted ads based on the user’s location. It seems to be the most promising way of getting profit out the mobile trend for the business.

One of the great thing about social media is its immediacy. How can paying attention to how you’re perceived on social media help a business to prevent problems before they have a chance to spread?

Social networks are a great place for supporting your customers and collecting their feedback. Lots of people, including me, are digging for the negative comments about the product or service before the purchase. It can really hurt your business if the number of unanswered questions is allowed to grow, while on the other hand it looks pretty safe and professional when all reported issues are followed up with accurate answers.

Needless to say, that viral effect of the social media can dramatically boost the impact of the user’s post. Curating your competitors fails and wins can also be very valuable input for your product management team while adapting to the market needs.

Customers tend to be resistant to pushy sales methods on social media. How can a brand bring real value into their customers lives, and how can they turn into actual revenue?

Rich content of a high-quality is a key for marketers in capturing a significant audience. Social networks brought real metrics of the content popularity into marketing, making it possible to effectively filter out engaging user-generated content. Marketers just can’t ignore that gold mine of information being a good source of inspiration, creativity and up-to-date trends in your industry for constructing a useful brand feed. The only problem is data collecting across the vast landscape of platforms. Social Searcher provides an easy way to monitor all popular social channels with the help of keywords or hashtags, as well as to highlight the most valuable posts in comprehensive analytics.

Instagram has been rapidly rising in popularity, the last few years. Is Instagram good for business? How might a business owner use Instagram to improve their brand perception on social media?

Instagram is increasingly important in creating an effective brand image to reach a variety of established goals: hashtags mentions, brand awareness, site traffic, and sales. At the moment you can’t add direct links to the Instagram posts, however, there are some workarounds like adding QR codes, product IDs, promo codes, referring to your profile description with the site link.

Branded hashtag is also a good idea for efficient promotion, encouraging followers to share relevant photos with the same hashtag and involving new potential customers. Collect a list of the most shared hashtags in your niche and smartly use them in the posts mixing up with the branded one.

Expand your Instagram presence by following and interacting with the industry influencers, competitor’s clients and engaging users. Take some time to uncover successful Instagrammers’ patterns: posts schedule, entertaining vs. sales content balance, media type and cross platform promotion.

Keep in mind that Instagram is a mobile-focused network, so consider how easily your image can be seen on a small screen, choose one style of the filters or watermarks for the published content to help you stand out in the general feed.

Posts geotagging can be another possible way to gain followers and communication when users are exploring posts in this area.

Which other social media networks are particularly useful for business?

No doubt, Facebook is still the primary social platform out there. It perfectly matches to any size of business and target audience. In May 2015, Facebook deprecated open API for searching public posts by keywords narrowing down the options for mentions monitoring.

I also like Twitter for the open spirit, it’s so easy to jump in relevant conversations and interact with users.

Google+ is a must-have network in your business marketing plan. Content tagging works extremely well for generating exposure for the brand feed. Google+ is especially attractive for bloggers and SEO-focused marketers being a part of the Google products family with all appropriate benefits like Google Authorship integration in the search results.

B2B sales perform well on LinkedIn while video content can’t live without Youtube.

How much time should a company spend monitoring how they’re perceived on social media? Also, how can they best use social media to improve their brand perception?

It’s all about effectiveness of the time and budget for the social media marketing. The reality is that most of the companies can’t afford to deal with all of the rapidly growing social platforms and need to clearly identify the ones to push on. Start with monitoring of the conversations and prove user’s interest in relative topics on a given platform, before you start investing in brand visibility and reaching out.

Tune up content for each social network accordingly, there should be a real value for the end user behind each post, otherwise it might be frustrating to get duplicating push notifications from the favorite brand via multiple social channels.

Constantly evaluate your media plan with smart and measurable insights from the social networks.

Consider using social listening tools that can be a good time saver for the marketing team leading your business to the information-driven decisions.

For more updates from social-searcher.com, connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

To learn more about how to stand out in today’s social media climate, check out our Content Marketing Academy.