To some entrepreneurs, social media marketing is the “next big thing,” a temporary yet powerful fad that must be taken advantage of while it’s still in the spotlight. To others, it’s a buzzword with no practical advantages and a steep, complicated learning curve.
Because it appeared quickly, social media has developed a reputation by some for being a passing marketing interest, and therefore, an unprofitable one. The statistics, however, illustrate a different picture. According to Hubspot, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites. And according to Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.
This demonstrates a huge potential for social media marketing to increase sales, but a lack of understanding on how to achieve those results. Here’s a look at just some of the ways social media marketing can improve your business:
1. Increased Brand Recognition. *Every opportunity you have to syndicate your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and content. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and more accessible for new customers, and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers. For example, a frequent Twitter user could hear about your company for the first time only after stumbling upon it in a newsfeed. Or, an otherwise apathetic customer might become better acquainted with your brand after seeing your presence on multiple networks.
2. **Improved brand loyalty. *According to a report published by Texas Tech University, brands who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers. The report concludes “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into being brand loyal.” Another study published by Convince&Convert found that 53% of Americans who follow brands in social are more loyal to those brands.
3. More Opportunities to Convert. *Every post you make on a social media platform is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers, and old customers, and you’ll be able to interact with all of them. Every blog post, image, video, or comment you share is a chance for someone to react, and every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion. Not every interaction with your brand results in a conversion, but every positive interaction increases the likelihood of an eventual conversion. Even if your click-through rates are low, the sheer number of opportunities you have on social media is significant. And as I pointed out in my article, “The Four Elements of Any Action, And How To Use Them In Your Online Marketing Initiative,” “opportunity” is the first element of any action.
4. Higher conversion rates.* Social media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. Perhaps the most significant is its humanization element; the fact that brands become more humanized by interacting in social media channels. Social media is a place where brands can act like people do, and this is important because people like doing business with other people; not with companies.
Additionally, studies have shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing, and a higher number of social media followers tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand, representing social proof. As such, simply building your audience in social media can improve conversion rates on your existing traffic.
5. Higher Brand Authority. *Interacting with your customers regularly is a show of good faith for other customers. When people go to compliment or brag about a product or service, they turn to social media. And when they post your brand name, new audience members will want to follow you for updates. The more people that are talking about you on social media, the more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users. Not to mention, if you can interact with major influencers on Twitter or other social networks, your visible authority and reach will skyrocket.
6. Increased Inbound Traffic. *Without social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor. The more quality content you syndicate on social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate, and more traffic means more leads and more conversions.
7. Decreased Marketing Costs. *According to Hubspot, 84% of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not a significant investment for a channel as large as social media. If you can lend just one hour a day to developing your content and syndication strategy, you could start seeing the results of your efforts. Even paid advertising through Facebook and Twitter is relatively cheap (depending on your goals, of course). Start small and you’ll never have to worry about going over budget—once you get a better feel for what to expect, you can increase your budget and increase your conversions correspondingly.
8. Better Search Engine Rankings. *SEO is the best way to capture relevant traffic from search engines, but the requirements for success are always changing. It’s no longer enough to regularly update your blog, ensure optimized title tags and meta descriptions, and distribute links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor, because of the fact that strong brands almost always use social media. As such, being active on social media could act as a “brand signal” to search engines that your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy. That means, if you want to rank for a given set of keywords, having a strong social media presence could be almost mandatory.
9. Richer Customer Experiences. *Social media, at its core, is a communication channel like email or phone calls. Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your customer service level and enrich your relationship with your customers.
For example, if a customer complains about your product on Twitter, you can immediately address the comment, apologize publicly, and take action to make it right. Or, if a customer compliments you, you can thank them and recommend additional products. It’s a personal experience that lets
customers know you care about them.
10. Improved Customer Insights. *Social media also gives you an opportunity to gain valuable information about what your customers are interested in and how they behave, via social listening.
For example, you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content syndication lists based on topic and see which types of content generate the most interest—and then produce more of that type of content. You can measure conversions based on different promotions posted on various social media channels and eventually find a perfect combination to generate revenue.
These days, it isn’t enough to have a website for your business – your digital storefront extends to social media marketing sites like Facebook and Twitter, and it’s time to start capitalizing on it. If your company still doesn’t have a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page, it’s time to get with the program and bring yourself up to speed (or risk falling behind your competition).
Still not convinced? Here are nine reasons social media marketing should top your to-do list:
1.) You get to see your target market, up close and personal. Part of what makes marketing with Facebook and Twitter so cool is the interaction you get to have with your customer base – you can read their tweets and status updates to get insights into their daily lives (and maybe adjust your marketing strategy as a result).
2.) You can respond to problems immediately. If there’s a problem with your product or service, you want to know about it immediately. With the feedback you get in the process of social media marketing, you’ll be the first to know when there are issues – and you can take steps to resolve them right away. Study after study has shown that consumers appreciate companies that respond to customer complaints (and don’t hesitate to rant online to anyone who will listen when companies don’t take the time to make things right).
3.) Your competition is Tweeting and Facebooking like crazy. The early bird gets the worm, and the sooner you start up Facebook and Twitter pages, the sooner you can start amassing a ton of fans and followers. This isn’t something you want to fall behind the competition on, because it’s much harder (and more expensive) to play catch up than it is to get in on the game early. Truth be told, your competition is probably already marketing with Facebook, and maybe even Twitter and LinkedIn, too.
4.) People are receptive to your messages. People view Twitter and Facebook as social networks, not marketing machines. As a result, they’re less likely to see what you post as an advertisement and will be more likely to hear what you have to say.
5.) It will get you more sales. Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell. Social media marketing doesn’t just keep your company’s name in front of potential buyers, but it also gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. Try Tweeting or posting coupon codes, good only to those who are your Facebook fans or Twitter followers (around The Content Factory, we call them “Tweeps”). You’ll be surprised at how many people make purchases using the code!
6.) You will find customers you didn’t know existed. If you follow specific keywords in Twitter, you can find people who are looking for the products you sell (and then direct them to your site). Using Twitter for marketing is great that way – telling people who want your products how to get them from your company is just an @ sign away.
7.) Customers you didn’t know existed will find (and buy from) you. In the process of marketing with Facebook, you’ll probably join a ton of groups related to your products, industry and customer base. By posting links in these groups, you’ll help influence customers to check out your site. Post a link today, and two weeks later you might see a sale from it.
8.) It’s free. How can you argue with that? If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media management or online PR agency, it will cost around $3,000-$7,000 per month, but it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills leave something to be desired, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital PR presence.
9.) The social media marketing arena is a (fairly) level playing field. Unlike the brick and mortar world where you need to have millions of dollars to run traditional ad campaigns, all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The people who thrive and go viral in cyberspace are the people with the most clever, attention grabbing tactics and the most useful, link worthy content. If you want to get lots of traffic and really increase your sales online, you’re going to have to outwit, out network and out write your competition while offering superior products and customer service. Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?
Simply put, social media marketing is part of doing business in the new millennium. Marketing with Facebook has been hot for quite a while now, but recently more and more companies have been using Twitter for marketing. If your business isn’t already active on social networking sites, now is the time to start. Who knows, you could be missing out on sales opportunities right now.
Increase your online exposure and look legit
Your digital storefront isn’t limited to just your website. Your Facebook,
Twitter and LinkedIn all represent your company in the eyes Internet
browsers and buyers. In fact, some may even say that your business’ Google
results (relevant, irrelevant, positive and negative) all constitute parts
of your digital storefront.
People expect businesses to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and they expect to be able to use them to get in touch with company representatives, if necessary. If you don’t have social networking profiles set up for your company, you look less legitimate. Ditto if your website looks like it was ripped off of somebody’s GeoCities page circa 1998.
Social media marketing is a must-have for businesses, but it’s also just the tip of the iceberg. Having website content that drives sales, a solid SEO strategy and products that consumers actually want to buy are all important pieces of the web PR puzzle, too.
As if you needed another reason to use social media for business
At the very least, social media marketing will help drive traffic to your site and increase brand awareness. That’s a huge part of web PR in and of itself, and is an outcome anyone would be happy with. Have questions about how to get started?