Social media is a term that invokes fear in the hearts of many business owners, but really, it is not that bad. In fact, once you understand how to deliver an effective social media marketing strategy, it is quite easy. Most people perceive marketing to be all about promotions and sales, which is not the case. Marketing is a holistic process that begins when a product is created. One of the mediums that have sprung up in recent years, for this purpose is social networks. Social media marketing encompasses all the other aspects of traditional marketing such as sales, promotions, customer research, and customer feedback.
In fact, it is possible for a company to do all of its digital marketing activities strictly on social networks and still make amazing sales. The social media includes phones, social networking sites, and all other mediums through which people interact socially.
The Tools Used
The social networking sites used for this purpose by big and small businesses are well known. However, the discussion has not focused on the tools that are used to derive the most amount of benefit from social networks. These are tools used by experts to analyze trends, which are important to the success of a certain product. Some of these tools are:
- Social Network Analysis Tools
Just like businesses, traditionally carry out surveys to find out the extent of brand awareness, social network analysis tools are used to test social networks. They cover blogs, new websites, social networking sites, and many other forums in the digital space. The other tool used to complement the analysis tools is social monitoring. This is where professionals with marketing experience, used the insight gained to develop a strategy and tweak products.
The tools used in analysis and measurement are still developing. The ones available are quite many and have a wide range of capabilities. Some of them are offered free while others that are more powerful are for sale and are used by big organizations. These tools usually focus on two areas:
- Data: These tools collect and analyze data exhaustively to predict trends. The tools help companies identify areas in which they need to adjust.
- Social Centric: These tools track brands and propose solutions that can help to grow user engagement and brand visibility.
- Aggregating Social Networks
Since there are so many social networking sites, most users often create one account and use it on all their social networks. All of the sites contain unique sets of information. For a marketer, going through all these networks and the accounts can be quite difficult. To deal with this, most marketers use the network aggregation approach. Through it, they are able to collect information from different social networks using one platform.
These aggregators encompass a wide range of tools that allow users to carry out different activities on various social networks all at once. For instance, the tools allow marketers to access profiles, track friends, and combine messaging in one area.
- Social Network Bookmarking
This field has emerged in recent years. With the growth of user-related information on the internet, there has emerged a need to compile all of it at a single point. This compilation reduces the time needed to find information on social networking sites users.
This is an area of digital marketing, which allows a business to analyze data on its consumers present on social networks. Many companies have emerged in recent years to do this. Essentially, they gather information on certain market segments. Customers interested in this information approach them for it. They could be business themselves or marketing companies working for businesses.
Besides companies that do social analytics, a business can also buy tools and conduct the analysis themselves. A number of major companies in the banking and airline industries have successfully used these tools to accomplish their marketing goals.
- Social Marketing Automation
Marketing purists often have a negative view on automation. However, it does have its advantages on businesses. Automation simply makes it easier to engage with customers. However, a degree of responsibility is needed when utilizing automation. If not controlled it can lead to spammy marketing, which can be an annoyance to customers.
For instance, if you write an interesting blog, you would need to share it with all your social networks. However, with automation, the blog is shared across all platforms and sent to emails with ease. The viewers will get the message all at the same time, which is great since timing plays a crucial role in an effective marketing campaign.
The main reason why these tools have emerged in recent years is how effective marketing on social networks can be. Social networking provides marketers with a wealth of information and the ability to target audiences in a manner that would be impossible in the past. There are three main reasons why social network marketing has become so popular in recent years:
Rapid Spread of Information
No other medium has the ability to spread information faster than social networks. These sites are built in a way that allows even a small piece of data to spread like wildfire. For this reason, even small business find it to be a very effective tool in helping spread awareness on their products.
The main reason why businesses love social networks is the level to which it allows users to engage with the information shared. Earlier on, most social networking sites only allowed ads of a limited range. However, continued development has made it possible for marketers to share information of all kinds. On social networks, text, pictures, and videos can be uploaded with ease. Even when one social network does not support a type of content, sharing a link to it on another network is quite easy.
It is Cheap
Affordability is another major reason why social network marketing is booming. Unlike putting up a billboard or running an ad on TV, social network marketing is quite cheap. This has made it possible for even small businesses to compete with large businesses as long as they get their strategy right.
How to Get Things Right
As with any medium used for marketing, there is a right way and a wrong way to do social marketing. Even with all the tools and advantages mentioned above, you might still not get it right. Here are a few pointers to help you get it right the first time.
First Impressions Matter
It is less costly to spend time creating the right first impression than it is to try to fix the wrong one. With social network marketing, it only takes one customer who is dissatisfied with your services to ruin your image. There have been cases where companies have had to withdraw a whole line of products because of accusation of being racist or sexist. Companies have also lost millions in potential profits when they have made ads for social networking sites that do not get the messaging correct.
The Marketing Message Needs to Be Unified
Social network marketing should not be viewed as something that is different from your other marketing efforts. All the marketing tools used should work in harmony to achieve a goal. For instance, do not just use social networks for branding purposes only. Make it an integral part of your strategy.
Have a Social Network Marketing Strategy
Various social networks attract different types of people. Do not assume that all of them will work for your brand. Besides that, do not just use tools because you have heard they worked for another company. Always have a clear roadmap of what you want to achieve with a certain social network.
Find Your Audience First
There are thousands of social networking sites, all of which attract different kinds of people. It is important that you choose sites populated by your target audience. Take time and conduct enough research to find out which ones work best for you. People are that if they advertise on the top two social networks, they will find their audience there. That is not always the case.
Engage the Audience
Social network marketing is about giving your brand a personality. It is about creating a relationship with potential customers, which they find helpful. If you have a social network account, that is not to be used to sell your products. Your aim should be to create content that adds value and directs customers to other good content. Once they get to your landing page, you can begin selling products to them there.
Just like emails, it is possible to become spammy on social networks. If you post too much, people will stop paying attention to your posts. If you do not post often, customers will lose interest in your content. It is best to have a regular schedule through which you post content. That way, customers can learn to anticipate your posts.
Make Good Use of Automation
There is both effective and spammy use of automation. Being spammy is offering promotions all day on social networks. Instead, use social networks to have a real conversation with the audience. Happy supporters of your brand will eventually convert. Automation helps to ensure that all new content is pushed out at the same time. It is especially so for large brands, which operate on numerous social networking platforms. It also ensures that mistakes are not made when pushing out the information since only one copy needs to be reviewed and edited before publishing.
Listen to the Customers
Most social networking sites have a comment section or a way for you to send messages. For a big brand, ensure that you have an expert who reads the comments. Besides that, ensure you have a system where you can reply to any major issues by the customer. By doing so, customers will see you are listening to their concerns.
Part of listening is taking action. When many customers raise an issue in the comment section, work to fix it. Once a solution has been found, use social networks to announce that the issues, which raised so much consternation have been resolved. Be sure to mention it was based on the advice you received from customers. This will make customers feel that they have a voice in how the company runs.
Covert Content into Different Formats
For instance, if you once created a blog post that attracted many readers, you can always convert that into a video. Post it on another social network that allows for easy sharing of video content. Readers will be able to engage it, and those who have no interest in reading long posts will engage with it. This will create more brand awareness and grow your marketing efforts.
Analyze Past Content
When you use social networks, some posts will do much better than others will with time. It is up to you to analyze the past posts and see what worked and what failed. If you dig deep into the data, you will begin to see trends that you may have missed. The good thing with social networks is that there are many tools out there to help you with the analysis. As you use social media, you will get good at it with time if you make use of analysis tools.
Take Time to Understand Social Networks
If you are a business owner, you can tell what will work and what will not by joining social networks. Use a personal account and explore how it works. Once you have the full immersive experience, you will be able to tell whether it works for your brands or not.
Start Out Small
When you do get an understanding of what social network marketing is, you will want to start small. Social marketing is cost-effective, but costs can rise dramatically if you do not use the right strategy. For instance, using some platforms can cost you hundreds of dollars for just a few clicks.
Besides limiting the number of sites you use, you also want to limit your budget. Test the waters with only a few dollars and see the kinds of returns you get. If the feedback is good, grow your budget gradually. This will allow you to cut your losses and advertise elsewhere if it does work out as planned.
Work on building Your Reputation
Use social networks to spread your message of dependability and reliability. Most people are likely to buy from you when they think you are a reliable brand. Do not use social networks to sell things as much as to build a good image for your brand. Besides that, when you build a good image, the customers will be the first one to defend you for free when things do not turn out well.
Social network marketing is highly dependent on how customers behave. The success of your marketing efforts will depend on your ability to identify what customers like and what they do not like. With time, social network marketing will evolve as the technology evolves. However, right now you need to ensure you are part of that evolution. Do not try to catch up later when everyone has already advanced the marketing strategies. Join now and be part of the future.
About the author
Sarah Barnes is a content marketing manager at Omnicore UAE. She contributes on a number of blogs sharing useful marketing tips from her research. She is fuelled by tea and long phone calls. Proud owner of teacup yorkie.