Thanks to social media, the way we do business has changed forever. If your business is not using social media right now, you are definitely missing out. With Facebook now boasting over 1 billion active monthly users and the likes of Twitter and Instagram hot on its heels, it is safe to say that social media is here to stay. It has had a huge impact on the way consumers buy and has completely changed the way that products are marketed. Simply put, a marketing strategy that doesn’t make us of social media is out of date.
To take advantage of this huge pool of easily accessible and instantly available customers, you need to learn the secrets that can get your brand noticed online, and this is where we can help, by sharing our expertise and knowledge with you. Whether you have a product to sell or a brand and service to promote, you can discover how to leverage the power of the big social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr. If you use them right, they will help your business get noticed and spread the word. With our help, you’ll be producing content that has global appeal.
In a nutshell, social media marketing is about using the various social networks to build up a buzz about your brand or product. Content marketing is an important part of the social marketing mix. Essentially, this means taking the content you probably already produce in your existing marketing campaigns and using it in your social marketing. You need to have a product or service to promote because there is no point shouting, no matter how loudly you do it, unless you have got something to shout about.
For example, let’s say that you a wedding dress designer and you have created some stunning designs for a client. You could share one of the designs on your social media accounts as promotional activity, along with a link to your website. If the design is good enough and plenty of people like it, they’ll start to share it on their social media accounts, and this can create a buzz about your work.
In most cases you will see an initial spike in activity, which steadily tails off over a period of time. However, in rare situations this growth can be significant. If an image, video or campaign achieves the status of ‘going viral, it can be enough to launch a whole new business. While a viral hit can boost your product or brand into the stratosphere very quickly, it’s a rare event and exceptionally difficult to engineer. The reason why is because it is virtually impossible to predict what will go viral so don’t count on it as being part of your social media strategy.
Instead, you need to make sure that your social marketing is done as part of an organised campaign, which builds up a decent amount of interest over time, steadily building your brand. Remember that social marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Although it is important to understand social marketing across the major social networks, and share your content effectively, you should never underestimate how important it is to have quality, engaging content in the first place. Without great content that people are proud to share with their friends, you will fail.
On the other hand, if people see great content being shared, then the chances are high that they will want more of it, and that they will head to your website to learn more about what you and your business have to offer. We realise that not everybody has an instantly accessible stream of memorable content that’s reliably shareable, especially if you are too busy running your bricks and mortar business too. However, if the thought of content being key to your social strategy makes your nervous, it might be time to investigate the power of storytelling or using a company like ours to help you.
Why Storytelling is your Secret Weapon
Simply put, people respond to stories and story telling is one of the best secret weapons you can have when it comes to social media marketing. This story telling technique is what creates a buzz and brings followers and fans to your business. When you start telling a story it shows that you are coming out and reaching to people. It makes you and your business more human. Social media users don’t want to interact with a business that is anonymous and has no face. However, if you start telling stories of your business in the form of images, videos and written commentary, you actually start showing the human side of your business and brand which makes it more attractive to your target audience.
Measure Your Success
One of the great benefits of social media marketing is that you can measure its success by leads and customers, rather than the more traditional web metrics, such as page views, time spent on a page and bounce rates etc. Each of the social networks have their own analytics to help you assess the impact of your efforts. For example, in Facebook you can instantly see how many times a post has been shared. On Twitter you can see how many times your most recent Tweet has been re-tweeted.
However you can you also get a much more direct feel for how successful social media marketing has been by how many sales or leads you get. The results should be instantly apparent. A major advantage of social marketing is that there are no charges to post on social media networks, and provided your posts are interesting and they are being viewed and shared, your message is getting out there without you having to pay for it.
Of course doesn’t come without some cost because while the medium is free, your time isn’t. You will need to invest a significant amount of time in your social marketing efforts if you want to get it right. An important part of social marketing is managing the conversation you have with your customers and there’s no more direct, or public way of doing this than via social media.
You might have noticed that social networks are placing a lot of emphasis on displaying adverts or charging companies to promote some of their messages. Your initial reaction might be that it doesn’t make sense to pay for a promotion if you can get your message out for free with good content. However, we do recommend that you consider social media adverts as an option. Facebook advertising and promoted tweets can be very cost effective in the right circumstances. We can advise you or give you some assistance if this is an avenue you want to take.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
While there are many advantages to social media marketing, lets not forget that the power of social media can be used for bad as well as good. There are many cases where businesses have reacted badly to some feedback or comments made on Facebook or their other social media sites and have been embroiled in public heated debates with their customers and potential customers. Perhaps you have witnessed something like this yourself or know of some examples of your own.
Even large companies are not immune to social media slip-ups. Early in 2014, MasterCard’s PR company recently made a hashtag of things by asking that all journalists seeking to attend the 2014 Brit Awards make at least one tweet with mention of MasterCard and that they include a specific hashtag that they wanted the journalists to promote.
The request instantly backfired and journalists started to use the hashtag to criticise the request. The PR company defended its action but you can imagine how hard it is to try and shake off negative publicity like that. It was a huge social media faux pas. It emphasises the importance of thinking very carefully about every Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram picture you post. Never act on impulse. Every piece of content needs to be carefully thought out and planned.
Bringing it All Back Home
Social marketing has to lead somewhere. Even if you think it is just your job to promote your brand and to get it into as many peoples minds as possible, somewhere there is a product you need to sell, and most of the time that product is on a web page. A landing page is the place where anybody engaged with your social marketing will arrive when they click on a link to your website. Don’t let them arrive by accident. It must be part of your marketing strategy. To help make your customers experience of your website as good as possible you need to have a specific message or product to view once they arrive there.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about social marketing is that it constantly evolves. At the moment, Facebook is by far the largest social network, with Twitter nipping at its heels, but the social media landscape could look very different five years from now. It’s possible that an entirely new medium for social media could emerge and take over the space in the public’s consciousness that is currently being occupied by the big players.
Photo sharing networks such as Instagram appear to have strong momentum right now, and Facebook’s expensive purchase of WhatsApp demonstrates that instant messaging shows signs of becoming a dominant communication medium. Inevitably. Social networks will continue to evolve and it’s those businesses and brands that evolve their social marketing message at the same pace that will succeed.
How to Make the Most of Social Media Sites and Stay Sane at the Same time
A few years ago, nobody really understood the power of using social media for their business. These days everyone from the government to your local restaurant has an online presence on a number of social networks. If it is handled well, social media can deliver a huge online audience that hangs off your every tweet, but that audience doesn’t come easily. Growing and managing the interactions that come your way can be a full-time job. As we mentioned earlier, it also brings great responsibility, making the difference between helping or hurting your business.
If you find the prospect of social media marketing daunting but really want to make the most of the social media channels at your disposal, don’t despair because help is at hand. We can provide you with all of the advice and help you need to plan a very successful marketing campaign. With our expertise we could help your posts go global in no time.
Why not contact us today to find out how we can help your business to spread the word on social media sites.
Burnside | A technology professional with more than two decades of experience writing. He has served as contributing author for ‘Talking Tech’ Column in the Pride of Durham News Paper(NC), and has an ongoing contribution here on CyrilBurnside. He is a professional services consultant with PC99Solutions, an IT consulting firm for small business. Contact us today and watch your online business grow.