So, what do you do to fully use social media marketing to derive the most benefits? As a rule of thumb, don’t just get right into it without proper planning. You need to figure out how you are going to execute your plan in a manner that guarantees success. Here is what to do before you jump right into social media marketing and end up making some costly mistakes.
Gone are the days when small businesses could not advertise their products
to the masses because of cost restrictions, as large corporations that have huge marketing budgets scramble for all TV and radio ad space!
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA
Table of Contents
But before we go there, what do you understand by the word “social media?” Well, much as it seems like an obvious word that you would know, you probably don’t have any specific definition of what it is. Nevertheless, it refers to applications and websites that make it possible for users to create and share different kinds of content or take active part in social networking.
In simple terms, these are platforms that enable the user to participate in the communication process (at least you should know that the internet is nothing more than just an information database that we all try to access). With social media, you can add comments, add videos, like or ‘participate’in any other form.
It includes social bookmarking, social news, wikis; social networking and social photo and video sharing just to mention a few. In this context, it is worthwhile to consider the history of social media and how we have adapted to it as a race.
HISTORY OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The World Wide Web was developed circa 1991, and immediately attracted a community of people with like interests – this was a necessarily limited
number, since few people possessed access to the internet, and fewer still the sophisticated skills required to connect to it. However, the rise of the personal computer and the graphic interface made using a computer much more simply and intuitive, giving rise to a new generation, which began taking the Internet much more seriously.
Through this time, the Internet began becoming more and more important to businesses and families alike, allowing people to meet and bond over shared interests. The nucleus of a social network was formed with the idea of creating fan zones for popular media. This allowed fans of the same TV shows, games, or books to create a community around the media.
These communities began to become stronger and more diverse as more and more people from around the world began to have access to the Internet. Blogs and websites are thus the oldest form of social media, which were formed with the intention of creating a space where like-minded individuals could engage with each other.
THE RISE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS
The first major social network on this note was MySpace, which saw a
huge swing in numbers from 2002-2004. However, issues with privacy led to the site closing down, losing a majority of its members, as it happens, to
Facebook, which has consolidated that position into being the largest social
Twitter also emerged a few years later, and achieved first a niche in celebrity social media and then became a vibrant network on its merit. The success of Twitter opened up the possibilities for what could be done with the idea of social networking-.
Pinterest focused on communities around shared interests, Snapchat on chatting through photographs, Instagram through a feed of photographs, and many others. Suddenly, social networking had become different from what it was when Facebook was consolidating its position – it had evolved to become the main reason why someone would use the Internet.
MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Marketing was still slow to realize the potential of social media. Most
brand pages were formed merely by fans, and while they were happy to
advertise on Facebook, they did not consider the potential of being able to
interact with their customers.
It was only when Facebook revolutionized their Pages feature, making it much more streamlined for the benefit of brands that companies and brands began to take to Facebook in a big way.
Today, social media marketing is one of the chief focus of any advertising agency. The number of people (constantly growing populations of adoptees) is too much to ignore. The question we have to ask when talking about social media, thus, is why people use social media.
Undeniably, the reasons why people use social media have changed. From
becoming a way to break socio-cultural barriers over like interests, social
media has begun to be appreciated for its own worth.
Now, social media exists as a blueprint for the kind of a person someone is. Before meeting them, all you shall need is their name and you can know much more about them. Thus social media presence becomes a kind of footprint that you leave online. It informs almost every portion of our lives to such a high degree.
SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
Why do we need to think about this? The answer is that we cannot truly target audiences in this medium until we understand the medium. If we know the purpose for which our audience uses, say, Snapchat, we can best use the medium for our purposes. However, I hope another key point about social media has come to light. It has been a very personalized experience.
It is very individual, while being focused on a community. This has meant a somewhat startling change for brands. Now, brands can speak directly to their audience, in real time. Customers may complain about the service, the products, or the brand itself. However, there will also be loyal customers who will stay with the brand. It is in this context that we frame the first critical question that we need to answer if we are to use social media for marketing purposes effectively: why are we using social media?
Let us return to the basics of marketing on social media. The journey building a strong social media brand entails having a strong positive presence in as many of these forms of social media as possible. Social media enables a brand to connect with its target group in an impactful and memorable manner – and along with its ability to provide exposure, and brand recognition, also remains an exciting and interesting media for the purpose of marketing. If you are still wondering why you should really embrace social media or die, here is why:
BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Increased brand recognition
Think of different social media sites as a street intersection that attracts different numbers of people at different times and your presence in the different platforms as your billboard at that intersection. The more pronounced or outstanding your billboard is, the m ore the number of people who are going to notice who you are. Just like the billboard, having a strong social media presence will help boost your brand recognition since as we have seen, 1 in every four people uses social media.
Increased opportunities to convert
Think of every new post you make on social media as a prime time ad. This
simply means that you have an opportunity to sell (even if it isn’t hard/direct selling) to your audience, which in turn means that there will be some conversions. Unlike in a TV or radio ad where those who are not actively watching or listening don’t get to see your ad, the fact that the post is written or in picture format means that current, past and future followers/customers will have access to such content, which simply means that the conversions will be perpetual.
With every post, video, comment or image, you are presenting an opportunity for your audience to react in the form of a visit to your website, email subscription, or purchase or any other form of conversion
that you have set.The basic goal of social media marketing is to take one step further from conversion – from liking the brand, to loving the brand, and finally, to swearing by the brand.
Reduced marketing costs
Most small businesses cannot compete with large multinationals that have
huge marketing budgets for advertising space on TV and radio. This means
TV and radio advertising are out of the question for them as far as advertising is concerned. The internet and in particular the social media has made it a lot easier and less costly for small businesses to target their audience with great ease.
Enhanced customer insights
You can easily listen to what people are saying about you, about themselves
and about different issues that concern them that might be of interest to you.By following people’s comments, likes, shares and follows, you can easily tell what it is they really like. This can in turn help you make an informed decision with respect to the kind of content to share, when to share it and how to share it. You can then try different campaigns just to help you understand what works and what doesn’t. In fact, social media marketing campaigns can be goldmines of data, which can provide you an insight into the kind of products, advertisements, and brand identity that your target group prefers, and which find a better response from customers.
Enhanced brand loyalty
A research published by the Texas Tech University has proven that by
engaging your current, past and prospective customers through social media, you are likely to enhance brand loyalty. This could be mainly because people want to be heard and answered whenever they have anything that they need answers on. Actually, another research published by Convince & Convert showed that over 50% of Americans actually follow the brands they are loyal to on social media!
Better customer experiences
Engagement could be taken as interacting with your friend; as you well know, the more you interact with anyone, the more you get to know them and the closer you become. The inverse is true; if you don’t interact, you will grow part! Social media is a communication tool that allows direct communication between you and your current and prospective customers.
The more you engage your customers, the greater their level of
satisfaction, which as we all know is one of the top ingredients to nurturing
customer loyalty. Social media can help you clear confusion and
misunderstandings making it easier to keep customers happy.
Improved brand Authority
Have you noticed that people always tend to brag about their experiences on social media? When more people are talking about great experiences they have had when using your products or services, you definitely stand to gain if you have a good social media presence. Actually, as people talk about you, new users regard the brand highly. This ultimately results to more conversions and easier attainment of your company’s objectives.
Tap SEO power
If you have any experience in marketing a business online, I know you are
aware of how hard it can be to appear in the top search results of the different search engines. Actually, updating a blog as often as possible, having excellent meta descriptions and having backlinks isn’t just enough to make you get a spot in the top searches for your targeted keywords. The truth is that search engines nowadays largely consider social media presence in determining the rankings of different sites. Therefore, the more presence you have on social media, the higher you are likely to rank in the search engines since you are considered trustworthy, legitimate, and credible.
Greater inbound traffic
Before using social media, the only people who will probably visit your
website will be those who are already familiar with your brand and those who are currently searching for the keywords that you rank highly (if you have any). When you create a new social media profile, you are actually building a new avenue for people to visit your website and check out what you have on offer. This coupled with the fact that every post is an opportunity to attract interest means that you are actually increasing the number of ways through which people can see you
GETTING STARTED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Marketing on social media is slightly more difficult than just forming a
page or a profile, and then just posting content. Since social media provides a flexible avenue for all kinds of marketing, a dedicated plan is a necessity to take the maximum advantage of the opportunities of social media. While social media will provide you a lot of leeway with any plan – a broad strategy in how to approach the medium can save you a lot of time, effort, and money.