What is Social Media Marketing Really Good For?
As friends, colleagues, and relatives, we have found hundreds of ways to use social media sites to enrich our lives.
We've discovered that social media can be great for spreading news, sharing thoughts, keeping in touch with loved ones, or even finding a laugh in a few spare moments. In fact, many of us now treat Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as regular parts of our daily routines.
For all of these personal uses for social networking, however, things get a little cloudier on the business social side. With hundreds of millions of users on these sites, and counting, there are certain to be lots of commercial uses for social media. But aside from traditional advertising, lots of companies are at a loss.
Many of them are wondering: What is social media marketing really good for?
To find the answer to that question, you have to go back and think about the ways that people are using social sites personally. Most don't visit Facebook or Google+, for example, as shopping portals. And so, smart marketers need to use them as indirect tools to help spread a message or find new contacts. Some of these roles might include:
- Sending out news, such as announcements of specials, discounts, new products, and events
- Beginning one-on-one conversations with customers and colleagues to build brand loyalty and handle customer service issues
- Find targeted new contacts and drive them to websites, blogs, and other sources of information or direct sales
- Forging relationships with colleagues and vendors, and creating other relationships and connections within those groups
One thing to note about each of these jobs that social media marketing can do is that they are very rarely standalone activities. That is, social profiles and content are best used in support of blogs, business websites, and other tools, rather than a "one-size-fits-all" Internet marketing strategy.
Could you do things differently and rely on social networking as your sole – or primary – source of new business? Absolutely, but then you wouldn't be using it in the best and most efficient way.
With that in mind, here are a few ways we help our clients to organize their social campaigns to emphasize the strengths of the medium without using time, money, and other resources when they could be better spent:
By setting the right goals.
The most popular way to measure progress (and success) on social networking sites is through new "friends," "likes," and so on. These can certainly be valuable indicators, from a numerical standpoint, but your target should be new revenue and opportunities, rather than pure gains in popularity. Accordingly, we work with businesses to establish realistic goals for bottom-line improvement based on their social profiles. You should look for the same kind of measurable results from your own campaigns.
By customizing profiles and updates.
An interesting thing has happened right alongside the growth of social media: People are paying less and less attention to new contacts. Just as your business website has to be special to get customers to spend their time, your social profiles really have to stand out if you want to use them as an effective marketing tool. With that in mind, one of the first steps in any social media marketing campaign should be to design custom profiles with the right logos, photos, search keywords, and more. Without them, you'll always be fighting a losing battle to get others to notice you.
By committing to a long-term plan.
Unfortunately, building the kinds of relationships (or at least connections) that will impact your bottom line is going to take a little bit of time, whether you're doing it through social media sites or on a person-by-person basis offline. This sometimes comes as a surprise to business owners and executives, who expect results within a few days or weeks. By committing to a steadier approach, however, you can lay the groundwork for a campaign that will continue to pay off for years to come.
By measuring social media marketing results.
As we have already mentioned, too many companies measure social media marketing results the wrong way. It's important to not just look for the right kinds of improvement, but to see that it's happening gradually over time. Like any part of your Internet marketing plan, your social profile should be monitored and analyzed to ensure that everything is moving in the right direction.
There is no doubt that enormous opportunities exist in social media marketing, but it's also clear that a lot of companies don't quite understand what social sites are good for, or how best to use them. We hope you'll take these tips and use them to get an edge on your competitors by using social media in the smartest way possible. But, if you'd like a little bit of expert help, why not contact our team today and see what we can do to put together a comprehensive plan for you?
Don't forget to follow Mark (@MarkAtKayak) and Randy (@Kayak360) on Twitter and connect with Randy in Google+.
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