If you know you need social media for your business but don’t have a clear understanding of how to proceed, this blog’s for you. It will help you understand why you need social media, which sites are relevant for your business, how to target them, and how to measure the success of your efforts.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS SOCIAL MEDIA
Increase Brand Awareness -Social media marketing gives companies exponential reach, empowering brands to leverage their content and messaging more efficiently than other marketing channels.
Build Your Reputation -The right social media strategy will allow you to share who you are with potential customers in an authentic and powerful way. When what you share on your blog, Facebook and Twitter truly represents you, people feel safe and more likely to move from interested bystanders to converted visitors. Social media provides a platform to tell your story (both the good and the bad).
Drive Web Traffic- Social media channels can be used to bring relevant visitors to your website - visitors who will convert into customers. In a recent study by Social Media Examiner, 74% of marketers interviewed found a substantial increase in website traffic with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing.
Generate Leads- The best source of a website lead is a recently-satisfied convert from one of your social media channels. Prospects who have enjoyed what you have to offer on social media can be encouraged to share their experiences with their friend via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
This will increase web traffic and bring more relevant visitors to your website. In this way, social media acts as a referral service for your business.
Improve Customer Relationships - Loyalty and trust play a big part in social media success. Businesses are using social media to build brand advocates. Customer analytics firm Forsee compiled data from over 300,000 consumer surveys on more than 180 websites across a dozen private and public sector industries showing that people who are influenced by social media have a higher average order size, customer satisfaction, and loyalty than those who aren’t influenced by social media.
The following graphic from UMass Dartmouth’s 2011 study of social media usage among Inc. 500 companies underscores the importance of social media for business:
DETERMINING WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS ARE RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS
A big mistake many companies make with social media is to just set up profiles on all the available networks and assume that by doing this there will be some sort of benefit. Chances are this could do more harm than good. Set down your shotgun and grab a rifle.
An effective social media strategy depends on having a clear understanding of who your target audience is and which social networks they prefer. After all, there's no point having a Twitter account if your customers aren’t using Twitter.
Before doing anything, you need to identify exactly who your target audience is by creating buyer personas. Once you have a clear profile of your target audience, you can identify which social sites to focus on.
It is also useful to follow social media marketing trends. For example, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and YouTube are the top five social media tools used by most social media marketers. As a general rule, B2C marketers are more focused on Facebook, while B2B are more focused on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. Emerging social media sites like Pinterest and Google+ are attracting more interest from marketers in 2012.
TARGETING SPECIFIC SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
Once you’ve identified which social media sites to zero in on, set up your company profiles and provide relevant content that speaks to your target audience. Make sure to give your followers a clear path to deeper engagement by including calls-to-action, landing pages, or links back to your website on any premium content offers (e-books, promotional videos, or tip sheets, etc.). Providing targeted content your audience will find informational or otherwise useful will help you drive web traffic and generate more qualified leads.
You may want to experiment with paid social media ad campaigns. In particular, advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn allows you to drill down your customer demographics with incredible accuracy.¹
MEASURING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
Getting on the best social media platforms, sharing quality content, listening and engaging with your potential audience, and collecting valuable lead information is not enough. You also need to analyze how much traffic and leads you're generating from the various social platforms you're participating in.
Measuring key social media metrics allows you to evaluate your efforts and make adjustments if needed. For example, you may want to spend more time engaging the community that tends to convert into more qualified leads. Or perhaps you've discovered that Facebook fans prefer different types of offers than Twitter followers. You can use this data to tweak your social media campaigns and improve their efficiency.¹
Understanding why your company needs social media is the only first step. You need to build a social media strategy that targets your audience, engages them on their terms, and measures results. Then you need to integrate your social media and website to establish a consistent online message.
Social media is only one aspect of a comprehensive approach to online marketing. If the prospect of doing all of this work yourself seems overwhelming, you may want to enlist the help of a professional inbound marketing services provider.
Whatever you decide, remember that a properly-managed social media profile is an effective tool to build brand awareness, engage consumers, generate qualified leads, and increase website conversion.
Are you using social media to its fullest potential? What’s holding you back?