Social media has the ability to increase exposure for your company. Take a look at a few statistics from the 2012 Social Marketing Industry Report:
- 93 percent of business-to-business marketers use social media to market their business.
- 85 percent of marketers reported that the best benefit of social media marketing is generating more business exposure.
- 74 percent of marketers reported that social media marketing has increased their website traffic.
- 59 percent of marketers use social media marketing for six hours or more every week.
Effective Social Media Marketing
For social media marketing to be effective, messages should be beneficial, educational, and factual; they should be true to the outcome and results-oriented. By moving to social media as a marketing tool, businesses are moving towards their buyer and incorporating peer-to-peer marketing tactics. Social media and conveyed messages can impact perception and perspective of potential buyers or audience members, influence buying behavior, help make a difference in the lives of people, impact available services, and offer options and influence.
As a social media expert, specializing in the appropriate social media forum, a marketer, and someone who helps companies/service organizations drive revenue and opportunity to individuals, it is always recommended to have a precise and strategic social media plan driven by supporting tactics that convey the all-important message of what is in it for the audience. The individual reading the social media post needs to understand how they can use the information, product, or service to better improve their quality of life or solve an unanswered question.
Connecting with the Audience
Social media is the perfect platform for answering your audience’s questions. It provides insightful or educational product or service information, creates valuable business relationships that promote sharing, and encourages appropriateness for the purchase and engagement.
We are in information overload with e-mail, texting, Skype, FaceTime, and other streams of contact and details we receive. By our own volition through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and so on, it can become a burden; oftentimes, hours are spent weeding through what we have created by signing up or buying into the need. The key is relevant information and beneficial information.
For spas, service providers, and professionals, social media can offer benefits through the provision of information on your services, products, reminders, and what differentiates your business from the competition. For social media to be effective, it should be used as a strategic tool, woven into your marketing plan and followed by chosen tactics and tools to be utilized to offer timely and appropriate information to your followers.
Key social media feeds would be those that offer access to the demographic or customer base which is most prevalent… or to new audience members, for which you are now servicing to expand reach. For instance, if I am offering men’s skin care for ages over 40, Facebook – based on the audience – may not be the most appropriate placement. Choose wisely and ensure that you have a plan for expansion as well as social media person who will dissect and recommend those who are most appropriate for what you strive to achieve. Just because everyone has a Facebook page does not necessarily mean it is relevant to your business. By the same token, the number of followers does not necessarily reflect revenue. Followers follow businesses for interest and other reasons, but it is not necessarily linked to buying. They are also not necessarily linked to interest in product. The activity of selecting the most beneficial avenues will increase exposure and leads, generate awareness, and subsequent demands for appropriate customer base. The key message is to focus your energy and investments where audiences will be most receptive.
For a product company, the same rules of offering viable products with a particular purpose would apply. Appropriateness of social media websites, relevance of message, ease of positive communication, and what you offer are paramount. It is imperative to success and satisfaction to all concerned that the social media message is absolutely cohesive to the marketing plan, merits, and links to outcome. Three facets that should not be overlooked (amongst the many as part of a plan) are to ensure at the very basic level that there is a strong call to action; messages add value; and social media is not a blast at the consumer, but a two-way street that should include relevant and prompt reply, with information gathered and feeding into marketing plan adjustments and data analysis (quantitative or qualitative).
The task or mandate of implementing successful social media strategies are an adjunct to traditional marketing, not a replacement. The benefits, when objectively implemented and achieved, increase demand, awareness, can alter the perception of your company or brand, and change perspective. Social media, in essence, is not a stand-alone marketing tool; it is to be used to amplify your marketing efforts. All these factors, with data collection and follow-up, can increase bottom line revenue, but most importantly, benefit your clients, building loyalty, compliance, and repeat business.
Relaying Your Message
My title is chief ventriloquist for a reason. I effectively relay the messages according to a methodical plan in the appropriate streams to influence behavior or provide education and offerings. It is providing details on the strength of your service or products. When integrated, full-circle, there is a closed loop in communication and valuable information relayed that can make a difference. The word relay is important, as social media marketing is no longer business to consumer. Truly, one of the best ways to engage your audience is by providing them with a compelling reason to share your message across social networks in a way that is natural and seamless. Word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations are extremely powerful ways to increase brand visibility; people will believe their network of peers versus a brand-driven campaign. If your target audience’s friends and colleagues are talking about your product or service, you are more likely to gain their trust in a much more meaningful way than by running an advertisement campaign in your local newspaper.
With social media, as with any type of advertising or marketing tool, first understand your demographic and knowing their hang-out spots. It is not instant gratification, but with consistent messaging that offers benefit and is shared, there becomes a tipping point at which ‘stage the message’ is simply out there in broadcast to be heard and shared by many.
Four Basic Steps to Relay Your Message
- Step 1 – Hire a professional or ensure that you have enough of a team in place that can contribute and engage in social media, while following a concrete set of rules as to the types of content and exposure you wish to achieve. What you say, how you say it, and what you post as pictures are essential to the message and perception created.
- Step 2 – Plan. Outline the objectives, dissect the various social media streams, and choose which is best-suited for your business. Direct the content and choose variable messages based on audiences, if they vary.
- Step 3 – Expand aiming for peer-to-peer engagement and sharing of knowledge, which creates brand recognition and awareness.
- Step 4 – Link to blogs where if you receive feedback, you can immediately respond. Gather information or data to link to analysis tools and link your message to the marketing plan to assess any necessary adjustments, as well as link the information to valuable offerings or the need for more detailed social media messages.
These are four basic steps. You have just begun. How do you monitor the activity and is this linked to return on investment (ROI)?
There are many social media analysis tools in the market. You can always reviewing the hashtags and key word searches to determine the number of mentions and for smaller available company services, there are social mention, post rank, and brand monitor. The most recent I found is Evalueanalytics, as well as others for a cost conscious evaluation method.
Measuring Your Return on Investment
After researching every avenue of your marketing plan – tweaking, analyzing, and adjusting, with patience and understanding that there is a ‘tipping point’ to mass awareness leading to brand recognition – how do you measure return on investment or maximize? If you are looking for a direct answer, there is none, unless linked to a special promotion or event. It is hard to measure direct sales based on social media; what it does do is expand awareness, recognition, and generate demand. The key is what you do with the demand and how you respond to blog enquiries or react to activity. Look at two factors: As I increase social media, is there an increase in traffic to my website? And if I increase my social media efforts, does my revenue increase? Albeit, there may not be an obvious direct link that is easily recognizable, but there must be some correlation.
If there is not enough to satisfy your expectations, perhaps there is a review of the channels or a review of your website. Do you need to do more? For instance, could you utilize a blog to drive traffic or other streams such as e-commerce websites for your anchor service or product? There is an array of questions as social media is a complex octopus with many legs and variable options that need to be strategically planned. It is key to remember that this tool does not lead to instant gratification; tweets, activity, likes, and followers are not necessarily linked to return on investment. Social media is exposure, brand recognition, and demand generation. Very often, there could be few followers, but high revenue or other marketing or sales tools may be the driving force once brand recognition is achieved.
My advice for your service, brand, or company is to choose wisely, seek effective and appropriate media, and integrate as a part of the marketing and corporate objectives to ensure relevant, quality communication. Less is more when it comes to messages, unless they are valuable, engaging, or offer insight or benefit. It is not the amount of activity that is a necessity, but the benefit, education, or useable message for the reader – useable enough to share and take action upon.
Katrina Kamstra is a chief ventriloquist at Maia International, Inc., a specialist in social media marketing, touch marketing, traditional marketing, demand generation, and creating awareness. In traditional terms, her expertise is in social media to create awareness and generate demand, which results in expanded revenue, and reach and depth of sales to multiple audience members. Kamstra believes social media marketing is a skill that requires precise messaging and valuable information.