Every marketer seems to be talking and doing social media. Admittedly, more and more businesses are realizing that social media is an integral part of gaining customers, keeping them and engaging with them when it matters the most. According to a study by the research group Constant Contact, up to 73% of small businesses have began using social media to market their products and services.
In essence, social media marketing is word of mouth marketing facilitated by technology. It allows marketers to actively build relationships with their customers with the goal of generating repeat business through customer recommendations. Social media has also made it possible for marketers to spend less money to advertise and promote their services to a wider audience. This is made possible by the simple to use tools and social media ad platforms that are accessible to small and big marketers.
TURNING THE FUNNEL ON ITS HEAD
In marketing, the funnel is the structure marketers use to gain prospects and to turn them to buying customers. Traditional marketing entailed investing time and money in finding and converting prospects. Maintaining the customers once you get them was more of guesswork than it was part of the marketing strategy.
Traditional marketing, unlike social media offers little in the way of keeping the customers that a marketer works so hard to gain. The costs and the channels for keeping customers are high and virtually non-existent. A marketer would simply hope that the customer comes back to buy more products or services and recommend others.
However, social media has served to somewhat turn the funnel on its head. This means social media marketers are now more focused on keeping their customers once they find and convert them. Marketers have a feasible way to follow up on customers and call them to action through features such as retweets, tweet buttons, shares and likes.
At the heart of social media is the recognition that your present clients are the most important assets. This is because the nature of social media participation is such that users are increasingly reaching out to their social media networks before making purchasing decisions.
Nonetheless, social media should not replace other efforts and strategies for marketing and promoting a product. Traditional online and offline advertising efforts are still critical aspects of your marketing mix. These should be used in conjunction with social media.
GETTING YOUR GOALS STRAIGHT
When starting out with social media for business and marketing, the landscape may seem quite confusing. There are many social media platforms, numerous metrics to track and measure and more than a handful of best practices for each platform. However, setting goals will allow you to get clear on what you want to do with social media, what you want to achieve and what you can do to enhance the impact of your social media campaigns. Here are several ways that you can improve your campaigns:
Tell prospects and customers about yourself: There is more to social media than just signing up and creating a profile. To get the most out of these platforms, you need to tell people about your brand, product and service offering. That is the only way social media users will know about what you have to offer them.
Use social media to boost sales: Use social media to make your brand go viral. Of course “going viral” should not be the primary goal of your social media campaigns. Instead, offer great deals that will compel your social media community to share the offers with their friends.
Engage your existing customers: One of your social media campaign goals should be to keep the customers you currently have; through their social networking, they will help you to generate even more customers. Build relationships that exude trust and that show customers that their opinion matters.
What Really Matters With Social Media Marketing
Social media is still a new concept for a good number of marketers. However, whether you are a veteran in social media marketing or you are just getting started, here are some fundamentals to consider:
Customer Recommendations Are Important: Many studies show that while web users hardly trust brand ads, they trust what those in their social networks say. As such, many web users make their purchasing decisions based on what their friends on social networks recommend. What will social media users say about your brand or product/service offering? Ensure that what they are saying will enhance repeat business as well as attract new customers.
Customer Service Matters: Remember also that it is easy for a brand to have bad press on social media. Be sure to have a community management strategy in place to ensure that your brand is presented in the right light. This means that your customer service must first be impeccable; build relationships that will keep customers coming back and spreading the word about your business. Offer remarkable customer service and social media will generate positive reviews for your brand. Thankfully, social media offers marketers the chance to contact their customers and to directly interact with them about concerns they may have.
Permission Marketing Is Essential: The practice of marketing is increasingly moving away from interruption to permission marketing. According to marketing strategist, Seth Godin, permission marketing is the opportunity to offer targeted and anticipated messages to an audience that is actually interested in the messages. Treat your customers with respect for example by:
• Not spamming their accounts
• By sending them relevant messages and also being resourceful
• Following and liking them, for example on Twitter or Facebook; this shows that you are genuinely interested in building a relationship first before marketing to them
Listen and Engage: Social media marketing is less about telling people about your message. It is mainly about listening to what users have to say and responding effectively. To really engage with your audience, you must invest time to listen to what they are saying about your brand, you niche as well as your competition. By tracking and listening to the social conversations, you are better placed to respond to your audience by providing the solutions they need.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT NETWORKS
There are numerous social media platforms where you can engage with your audience. How do you choose the right network for your business as an online marketer? No specific answer will fit all. Yet many marketers usually begin with Facebook because there are more people on this network. It may also be easier to use to reach your audience.
To determine the social networks to engage, consider asking your present customers which social networks they use; you can do this through an email survey. You may also integrate this question within the conversations that you have with customers for example in blog comments.