Social media has never been more popular. Most users access their favourite platforms on at least a daily basis and some even more frequently than that.
For it to be a worthwhile tool for marketing your business, however, you need a return on your investment. If you do it right, you can get that return on investment.
Doing it right involves persistence, creativity, diligence and a willingness to let go of conventional business practices where your doors are firmly closed to all onlookers and your customers only see what you want them to see. To do social media well you need to adopt openness, project friendliness, have a willingness to help and chat to your clients and potential clients as much as possible online.
Social media users who follow your business online expect to see you there, chatting, answering questions, being helpful and demonstrating your expertise. They expect to see others who have used your services singing your praises and reassuring them that you’re the right company to ask for the products or services you provide.
Simply posting content and hoping for the best is not going to get your social media presence rocking, no matter how good the content is. If you’re not being social, you’re not doing social media. More than this, whatever you do, don’t go in for the hard sell the second you connect with someone. It’s just not the done thing. People will switch off immediately.
Done the right way, there are many benefits of social media marketing. Here are the main ones.
Increases brand recognition
This is one of the main benefits of social media marketing. In fact, social media is one of the most cost-effective ways of getting your brand in front of a large audience on a regular basis. Most people use social media in some form or other. Not being there to engage with them is missing a trick.
Enhances trust and credibility
Simply having large numbers of followers is enough to demonstrate that people have an interest in your brand. However, it’s not enough to show you have a brand that people trust. To elicit trust you need to have others, brand advocates, giving testimonials online. So, encourage your happy customers to leave comments about the service you provided. There’s nothing like unbiased testimonials to improve your trust and credibility.
Humanises your brand
Social media is a place for conversational messages and showing your brand’s personality rather than corporate language and formal communication. Also, communication on social media is two-way. This lets you create personal connections with your audience.
Builds brand loyalty
Building brand loyalty is incredibly important in business, so this is one of the major benefits of social media marketing. After all, it is much cheaper to keep a customer than it is to find a new one. Social media helps you build brand loyalty, and research backs this up. In one study, 53 percent of consumers said they were more loyal to brands they follow on social media.
Target specific groups of people
Unlike many other forms of marketing, social media lets you target specific groups of people. You can, therefore, target your messages to the people who are most likely to buy your products or services. In addition, you can deliver different messages to different audiences. This includes geotargeting where you can tailor the message depending on the location of the audience.
Every interaction on social media with a customer has the potential of moving them closer to conversion. As I said earlier, don’t go in for the kill immediately upon connecting with someone, but that’s not the same as keeping in contact, building a relationship and even taking the relationship offline, i.e. meeting in person or by video call. After all, why would it work differently online than in the ‘real’ world? Build relationships first!
The first thing to understand when considering the cost involved is that social media is not free. While you can set up a page or create an account for free, implementing an effective social media strategy will cost money. Even if you decide to do it yourself it will cost you your time. You’ll probably find it makes better business sense to get a professional agency to run your accounts for you. The costs involved are often considerably less for a much greater reach than many other forms of marketing, e.g. newspaper or magazine adverts, leaflet drops, etc.
More traffic for your website
Part of your social media strategy should include sharing content from your website. When you do this, you will get more traffic to your website, providing the content is engaging enough. Once someone is on your website, you have a better chance of converting them – getting a sale, for example, or getting them to sign up to your email list.
Search engine rankings
Social media does not have a direct influence on high organic rankings in Google and should not be considered a ranking factor. However, it does create an opportunity to engage your brand’s followers on many touch points and Google gets a clear indication of this by the number of times the page is liked or shared. Good social media campaign results often seem to correlate with high organic rankings.
Social media tools are also great for understanding what customers really think about your brand or service. This includes when customers leave negative feedback. If you have an open strategy for dealing with negative feedback, it can actually work to your advantage. If someone leaves a negative comment and you deal with it professionally and successfully, it will improve your relationship with your customers and prospects, rather than diminish it.
Customer service and support
Social media platforms also give your customers another way of contacting you to ask questions or get help. They provide an efficient way of communicating, but are also a preferred method of communication for many people. In other words, social media platforms let customers communicate with you using a method they are comfortable with.
Get a message to customers quickly
This is beneficial in a range of situations, including when running a live event. You can use social media to keep your audience up to date with what is happening in real time.
Learn more about your customers
Finally, social media gives you a better understanding of your customers. It does this through the statistics you can glean on your audience: gender, location, age, etc. You can also learn about your audience by analysing how they react to posts and by observing conversations and interactions.
Everyone is online. OK, maybe not everyone, but it’s pretty close to everyone. Social media can be an effective part of an overall marketing strategy if done well. It allows you to communicate with customers in new ways, and it delivers tangible results for your business.