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What is social media marketing?
In the last decade, use of social media has exploded. According to Facebook, as of October 2014, 1.35 billion people worldwide actively use the site on a monthly basis and 864 million people use Facebook daily. Meanwhile, Twitter reports having 284 million monthly active users, with 100 million logging onto the site on a daily basis. Not far behind, and gaining, is Pinterest, with 70 million users (80% of whom are women, although the company is introducing new technology to attract more men, such as filters that will personalize your search results based on your gender.)
Whether you personally use social media or not, businesses cannot afford to ignore it. Just like when consumers have an expectation that a reputable business will have a relevant and up-to-date website, people will also look for your brand on social media. If you are not found, then you could be seen as a company that is not forward-thinking. If you do not have a social media marketing strategy in place, then you could potentially lose customers to competitors who have implemented a social media marketing strategy. Social media marketing is a large part of your online marketing strategy, without social media marketing, you are already behind your competitors.
Using social media marketing to grow your business
Social media marketing is unlike traditional marketing in that you are engaging in a conversation with your customers—not talking at them. Yes, your ultimate goal is to sell your product or service, but unlike traditional advertising where your focus is touting all the benefits of what you’re trying to sell, with social media you’re taking a softer approach. Think of it as the difference between making an announcement over a PA system versus talking to someone at a cocktail party. Yes, your PA system message may reach more people in one shot, but you probably won’t win the word-of-mouth that is so essential to successful marketing as you do when you make friends and influence people at that intimate social gathering.
Social media works best when you identify your niche market, and then appeal to that group in ways that will get them talking about your product or service. Offering free products, first dibs on a new service, or a chance to actively participate in a branding exercise (such as a book publisher asking their followers to help them choose a cover design for their latest thriller), creates a favorable relationship that the user will report about to their friends—either by sharing your post, retweeting it, etc. And, because the average Facebook user has 338 friends and the average Twitter user has 208 followers, that one share can increase exponentially in a way that a print ad in one magazine cannot.
What are the basic ground rules for social media marketing?
Just like someone who talks about themselves incessantly will lose friends fast, so goes over-posting on social media. Limit your posts to once or twice a day on Facebook. Conversely, spotty posting is like being an inconsistent friend who doesn’t always return phone calls. You want to have a steady presence on social media, so don’t even start a social media strategy if you don’t have the time or interest in committing.
If you are trying to make friends in the real world, you show an interest in people—their likes and dislikes, their activities, their passions. The same is true in the virtual social world. Show an interest in your followers (which, by the by, will help you gain new ones) by replying, sharing, and reposting others’ relevant posts, tweets, or pins. If someone starts following you or “likes” your page, follow or like them back (unless of course they are a spam account, which is easy enough to spot.)
You can stay professional and on-message without sounding like an advertisement. You do this by choosing who you follow wisely (do their interests or preferences relate in some way to what I’m selling?) and frequently linking your posts back to your website (so even a friendly, non-sales message ultimately leads people to your place of business)
Often, businesses will post a blog or a monthly email newsletter on their site as part of their digital marketing strategy, offering relevant content that is useful to their customers. These blog posts and eNewsletters often contain links to third-party thought leadership articles and white papers. All of this content can be discussed on social media and linked back to your website (just remember that if you are citing a third-party to always include proper attribution).
Businesses that do not consider incorporating a social media marketing strategy do so at their own peril. Be sure that you contact Five Dog Solutions to get a website designed and built along with your social media marketing strategy. You really shouldn't have one without the other.