Someone said to me last week, “well it’s all about Gen Z now, isn’t it?”. Sorry, Gen who? Oh, Generation Z. Yes, I’m with you now. The term’s just not fully sunk in with me yet, and it just doesn’t quite have the same ring to is as Millennial, does it?

If you’re a small business or SME then Generation Z certainly do need to be on your radar. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this first. It’s as important now, more than ever, that your business speaks volumes online. Not just to make conversions (i.e. sell things) but to get your brand ethos and message across too (more on that below). It’s important to make damn sure people know how fabulous you are, and what you’re all about. Portraying that efficiently is a skill no less suited to excellent online content creators.

There are a gazillion reasons why you should invest properly in social media if you’re not doing so already. But here, we list six super sassy and *really important* ones, each backed-up by data. Great if you’re thinking about making the investment, or even better if you want to take your online presence to the next level.

Reason 1: Gen Z is using social media to make purchasing decisions.

And to be in with a slice of that action, you’ve got to have presence where they’re looking.

This 2016 study from Marketing Charts showed that 85% of generation z are using social media to learn about new products. So if you’re in this for the long term and you want to build up a basis of future purchasers, now is the time to invest. These youngsters are doing pretty much everything on mobile too, which means soon mobile will overtaking web as the main source of online info. So, to show up in app scrolls and searches you have to have your own, dedicated company accounts (that ROCK).

Reason 2: Because your competitors are doing it.

Go and take a look right now to see if your three main competitors are on Twitter or Instagram. If they are, then that’s another reason you should be. Twitter is all about conversations in your industry, and Instagram about harnessing your brand and company ethos. If a potential customer is torn between you and a similar brand (who have an excellent Instagram grid) well, chances are you’re gonna miss out. In 2015, Deloitte showed us that shoppers are 29 percent more likely to make a purchase the same day when using social media to help them shop. So it really can pay to have (really excellent) presence!

Reason 3: It’s a great way to learn something from (and about) your customers.

Can’t decide which dish to put on the menu next, in your vegan cafe? Ask Twitter! Wondering how your Instagram followers found out about your brand? Run a poll. Or trying to figure out if your fans on Facebook are mainly male or female? Find out the exact split with Facebook Insights. Social media is interactive, it connects you to the people who are ultimately going to put their hands in their pocket and buy something from you. Social media allows you to connect with them, ask them questions, and gain useful insights all about them, just as if they walked into the front door of your shop on the high street.

Reason 4: It’s an opportunity to thank those loyal to you.

It’s always nice to give a little something back, don’t you think? Social media opens up endless opportunities for you to run giveaways and competitions. Not only do they get people excited about your brand, but they give you a chance to say thank you and make somebody really, really happy. The prize doesn’t have to be big, either. Trust us, a little gesture goes a long way in the world of social. Plus, giveaways are an excellent opportunity to expand your reach, gain more likes and engagements and get in front of some eager new faces.

Reason 5: Showcase your knowledge and expertise.

Nobody likes a showoff, but you know what? If you’ve got it, we say flaunt it. If superfoods are your thing, then tell the world about the difference between green tea and matcha. If gardening’s what you dig, then let people know the best time of year to plant those bulbs for spring. Or maybe you make all-natural products, and could advise on how to make a homemade face mask? Whatever your niche is, social media gives you platform with a voice to the masses. And if you’re talking about the right things, at the right times, you can watch your following grow into a community of like-minded individuals.

Reason 6: It can help your visibility in the search engines (yep, we mean Google).

This one might seem a little technical, but trust us, it’s simple really. The internet is kind of all interconnected, and when people search for something you provide (using Google), it pays to have as much visibility in those search results as possible. Having active, engaged social media accounts help you achieve this. So if you make “doughnuts in Manchester” you want that search to showcase not only your website but also some of your social media presence too. You see? It’s all working in harmony to get your brand out there in front of the right eyes (and mouths, as the case may be!)

Sophie is a freelance social media manager and food blogger at www.sophiesscran.com.