Do you know how social media can help market your business?

 In today’s digital world, social media is the way to market your small business. It is an inexpensive way to create an online brand identity and increase your business’s exposure. According to the Optus Business Social Media Index, a study showed that only 28 percent of small and medium sized businesses use social media, such as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, as a marketing tool. Done the right way, a social media campaign can grow and develop a business and reach countless potential customers.

A social media marketing campaign is all about attracting visitors to your website and ultimately turning those visitors into customers and clients. You need a strategy and knowledge of how social media marketing works. It is essential for a successful campaign and for your business.

  • Small to medium sized businesses using social media 28% 28%
  • Marketers who thought social media marketing was important to their business in 2014 92% 92%
  • Marketers who indicating social media marketing increased traffic to their websites 80% 80%

Why market with social media?

The ways of marketing businesses has changed dramatically over the past several years. Placing an advertisement in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages used to be the only option. Today, potential clients and customers search the web to find a particular service or business. In addition to having a website, a business needs to utilize email and social media to not only attract new customers, but stay in contact with existing ones.

According to Hubspot, 92 percent of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important to their business with 80 percent indicating increased traffic to their websites.

A business’s social media usage is one of the main factors search engines uses in calculating how your web presence ranks. Your competitors are already involved with social media reaping the benefits of attracting customers. Social media is a way of business reaching out to their customers, clients and suppliers one-on-one – a way that no other tool can match.

The reason social media works so well for marketing is that people not only want information, they like to share it. While email is critical for notifying customers and clients of new website content posts such as blogs, social media is the way this content can be shared and drive traffic to your website. Social Media Examiner says to think of using social media as a publicity engine and content distribution channel. It’s like a word-of-mouth effect where new people are exposed to your company daily.

Related Article: Promoting Your Business with Email Marketing

There are 10 reasons a small or medium size business should create a social media campaign, according to Forbes magazine:

  1. Increased brand awareness – Social media networks are new channels for your business’s voice and content. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and accessible for new customers and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers. For example, a frequent Twitter user could hear about your business for the first time only after stumbling upon it in a newsfeed. Or, an otherwise apathetic customer might become better acquainted with your business after seeing your presence on multiple networks.
  2. Better search engine optimization (SEO) rankings – SEO is the best way to attract relevant traffic from search engines, but the requirements for success are always changing. It’s no longer just enough to update a blog or distribute links leading back to your site. Google and other search engines use social media presence as a significant factor is calculating rankings. Being active on social media is a signal to the search engines that your business is active and credible.
  3. More opportunities to win new customers – Every post you make on social media is an opportunity for customers to convert to your company. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers and old customers and you’ll be able to interact with all them. Every blog, post, picture, video or comment you share is a chance for someone to react and that reaction could lead to a site visit and eventually a conversion. Even if your click-through rates are low, the sheer number of opportunities you have on social media is significant.
  4. Higher conversion rates – Social media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. The most significant is its “humanization element.” This means that companies become more humanized by interacting in social media channels. Social media is a place where companies can act like people do. This is important because people like doing business with other people, not companies.
  5. Increased brand authority – Interacting with your customers is a show of good faith for other customers. People turn to social media to compliment or brag about a service or business. When your business name is posted, others will want to follow you. The more your business is talked about, the more authoritative your company will seem.
  6. Increased web traffic – Without using social media, your web traffic is limited to people already familiar with your business and individuals using key words of which you currently rank. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site and every piece of content you post is an opportunity for a new visitor.
  7. Decreased marketing costs – Having social media as part of all overall marketing campaign is very cost effective. Just a few hours a week is all that’s needed to generate more web traffic by utilizing social media.
  8. Improved loyalty – A Texas Tech University study showed that companies who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers. Their report concluded that “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into brand loyalty.” Another study by Convince & Convert found that 53 percent of Americans who follow companies on social media are more loyal to those businesses.
  9. Richer customer experiences – Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your level of customer service and enrich relationships with your customers. If a customer compliments your business or service, you can thank them and recommend additional services or products. There is nothing better than personal service.
  10. Improved customer insights – Social media gives you the opportunity to gain valuable information about what your customers are interested in. You can tailor content based on customer comments.

What is a social media campaign and how do you build one?

A social media campaign is a coordinated marketing effort to promote a business using such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. It is a targeted effort of marketing to reach countless potential customers.

A social media marketing campaign isn’t just about posting anything on social media. It involves targeting such goals as increasing web traffic, building email marketing lists, improving overall brand engagement and getting feedback from customers.

Having frequent and fresh content, such as blogs and photos, is important to keep people wanting to check in with you to see what’s new.

A strong team and a day-to-day plan are essential for a successful social media campaign. Here are some examples of what it takes to build a social media campaign according to Social Media Examiner:

  • Have a marketing team– Not everyone understands how social media works. It’s best to have a proven marketing consultant to build and maintain the campaign.
  • Plan the campaign – Whether you’re launching a new product or promoting a specific service, a plan should be formulated. Short-term objectives should be set for each platform being used. Keep the plans focused and build momentum, curiosity and excitement among your audience.
  • Choose the most effective platforms – There is no one perfect social media platform to use. What works well for one company, might not for another company. Before choosing your primary and secondary platforms, think about what where your target audience is likely to spend the most time. Also, check industry benchmarks to see what platform the audience for your specific service or product would likely be using.
  • Establish an editorial calendar – Print publishers have used editorial calendars for years. They help leverage content across all media. For example, on one day, list posting a blog at a certain time, and the next day an article on a particular subject.

Related Article:  Do You Need an Email Calendar?

Using Different Social Media Networks

There are several social media networks to utilize for your marketing program. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are the most popular and successful. Social Media Examiner suggests having a strong presence on three or four platforms instead of having a mediocre presence on several.

Here are some examples of marketing on social media networks:

FACEBOOK – This is the jack-of-all-trades in social medial marketing. Facebook is a powerhouse with some 1.23 billion users. You can post pictures, video and snippets of blogs and other content and engage your customers. It has three tools businesses can utilize – pages, ads and groups.

  1. Facebook Pages are used by businesses and are similar to profiles. Using key words about your service or product on your profile and posts will catch the attention of search engines and drive them to your page.Users can “Like” a page and automatically receive updates from that page for their news feed. While profiles require a mutual relationship, pages can be liked by anyone. Your company logo and “about” section should be prominent on the page. Posting content frequently gives your audience a reason to keep coming back to your page.
  2. Facebook Ads is an excellent advertising platform. Ads can be created to target a specific demographic age, education level and even the type of devices used for browsing. The ads are targeted according to your profile information. The ads appear in news feed, on mobile or desktop.
  3. Facebook Groups allows members to connect and share among a smaller group of viewers compared to Pages that has a broader audience.

Related Article: Advertising on Facebook

TWITTER – This is a short message communication with up to 140 characters. You can include a link to any web content such as a blog, video or photo. Nothing expresses your brand more than your username that will appear on your tweets. Adding your photo gives the tweets a personal touch.

Start following your customers, vendors, trade organizations and even your competitors. Send out tweets promoting and talking about your business and how it benefits customers. Tweet a link that will drive people to your website. Tweets can be embedded in a blog post on your website.

Expand your Twitter network by using hashtags. The # symbol is used before the identifier of a particular subject or topic. An example, #NCAA is the hashtag for college sports. Click on the hashtag and you’ll see tweets with the same hashtag and you can join the conversation.

GOOGLE+ – This is a must for any small business since it works hand-in-hand with Google Search, according to Business News Daily. This can help your business rank higher on search results and help draw customers in by providing key information such as location and phone number right on the search pages. Google Plus also lets you promote posts and other content to a wider audience.

An important fact about Google + is its SEO value. Adding key words and images related to your business increases the search rankings. Just like with Twitter, you can use hashtags with Google+ to categorize your posts. Keeping content fresh and posting frequently will build your audience.

LINKEDIN – A company page can be created on LinkedIn and is more suited for business-to-business than business-to-consumer.

PINTEREST – This is a platform where users can share and save content to virtual “pinboards.” Pinterest has a unique demographic where more than 70 percent of users are female.

INSTAGRAM – A mobile photo sharing app, this network allows you to share pictures or video of your products or services.

 

Measuring Social Media Campaigns

How can you tell if your social media marketing campaign is working? A social media campaign can be measured and you can see the results of how it is paying off for your business. You can determine what is working and what is not. Most platforms have resources to track your traffic and determine your Return on Investment (ROI).

Using metrics – a method of measuring clicks and views on social media platforms – will show you how many people viewed or downloaded a piece of content, the number of times it was shared with others, how the content resulted in a lead, and if the content realized revenue. Metrics can show how your social media campaign is performing and provides specific details. Facebook Pages, for example, can show you who “Liked” your posts, their age group, gender, and which posts are the most effective. Your performance can even be compared to that of a competitor without the competitor knowing.

Measuring the performance of content to see if it results in leads is key to a successful campaign. Here are five metrics Social Media Examiner suggests to measure:

  1. Measure referring traffic – According to Shareaholic, social media has become the number one source of website referral traffic. Google Analytics is an excellent tool to measure traffic being referred to your website from various social media channels. Sprout Special tracks such metrics as audience growth and engagement.
  2. Review quality and relevance of content – Content is the fuel for your social media engine. If it’s not relevant and useful, it’s a waste of digital space. To assess a piece of content’s value, monitor time of page, unique views and total pages viewed. If unique page views grow, it’s an indication that your reach is growing; increased time on page shows that the content is interesting to the visitor; and a hike in total page views means that the visitor wants to learn more by clicking on other pages on your site.
  3. Share of voice – This refers to the number of conversations about your business compared to your competitors.
  4. Track the size of community and engagement -Measuring and tracking the size of your collective communities and overall engagement is essential in determining the value of your strategy.
  5. Measure sentiment – Review your mentions and tag them as positive, neutral or negative. Add up the totals and measure over time.

Using Metrics To Improve Your Campaign

If your metrics are not moving in the right direction or are stalled, mix up your messaging and try different posting times. Redefine your goals and strategy. A social media consultant can help you set up a program that’s tailored to your business objectives such as do you want to develop leads or strengthen your brand? If you find that social media marketing isn’t living up to your objectives, you need to determine your strengths and weaknesses.

Social Media Examiner offers several suggestions to improve your social media marketing. Customize your sharing tactics. Remember, each social media channel has its own focus. Some are all about images and others about conversation.

  1. Use brief summaries on Twitter – Twitter stands apart from other social media networks because of its 140-character limit. It forces users to choose words wisely. A good way to repurpose content on Twitter is to go over your blogs or articles and tweet a standout sentence. Before choosing a summary, ask yourself, “Would I would click on this tweet?”
  2. Be more conversational on Facebook – Use a conversational tone and mix business with status updates about friends and family.
  3. Invite professional discussion on LinkedIn – This is not only a networking and recruitment site, but also a great place to share content and discuss trends. Conversations should be centered around business related topics.
  4. Share strong images on Google+ – One of the draws of Google+ is the emphasis it places on images. You can share animated GIFs in your followers’ streams. You, of course, still need written content, but choose an image to can tell a story without words can be really eye-catching.
  5. Include hashtags on Instagram – More marketers are using hashtags on their photo captions to be part of a larger conversation. It’s an easy way for people to find and share your content. Create your own hashtag or use an existing one. A custom hashtag is a great way to gain traction for your campaign.

Social Media Marketing Goals

You also need to look beyond the numbers and explore what needs to be adjusted to increase your reach. Determine which statics matter. Are you opting for sharing or clicks? Analyze your content strategy and see what gets the best response so you can create more of it. Remember, fresh content is the key to a successful marketing campaign.

A social media campaign should be based on SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific (your goals should be clear, simple and defined), Measurable (attach a metric to your goal to measure progress), Achievable (can you achieve your goal), Realistic (Do you have the resources and drive to attain your goals) and Time sensitive (Your social media campaign should have a reasonable time frame).

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The SMART goals approach is particularly effective since it helps guide businesses to target specific, rather than, vague goals. For instance, most business owners would say they want to just “increase followers” or “get more likes.” Using SMART goals would turn that mindset to “we want to increase Facebook followers by 15 percent in two months by participating in Facebook Groups.”

Having clear objectives, realistic goals, a strategy, knowledge of how social media marketing works and an expert team to carry it out will result in a successful campaign. A successful marketing campaign makes for a successful business in today’s digital world.