Social media has grown to such intimidating proportions that it’s understandably challenging for businesses and marketers to stay abreast of developments in the space. Worse, when it comes to social media marketing, many might not even know where or how to begin.
After all, it’s one thing to gain digital points like a Facebook “Like” and something else entirely to make sure that thumbs up leads to actual impact on the bottom-line.
Fortunately, there are some fundamental concepts you can follow to avoid getting lost in the wilderness of social media.
Today, social media marketing can be a crucial and significant part of a company’s entire marketing and branding effort – not just an “icing on top,” optional marketing channel. If you intend to succeed in social media, you need a strategy. Preferably, one that goes well beyond just creating social networking accounts and posting random updates every so often.
Consider this very simple but cohesive two-step approach:
- Craft your social media strategy around a specific, realistic objective – something concrete, measurable, and obtainable, such as increasing conversion rate through social channels by X%.
- Choose in which social networks to interact with your target market and apply a specific consumer-level strategy.
- Your consumer level strategy will dictate what types of posts to put up and when, as well as how often. This same strategy will guide performance monitoring, though of course your social platform of choice will have their own native analytics platforms, most likely.
For instance, HubSpot research indicates that Google+ is ideal for a strategy that revolves around organic search and markets to a technologically-savvy male demographic that does not spend much time in the site. Pinterest, on the other hand, attracts more female users who spend an average 100 minutes browsing boards, and is perfect for referral traffic.
Methods of social media optimization may not be as refined as the technical aspects of search engine optimization, which has become a staple of modern digital marketing campaigns. There are ways, however, to optimize your social endeavors.
Each social networking platform offers its own advertising program and business page or profile options. When it comes to optimizing social ads, the task is similar to tweaking paid search campaigns. In optimizing business profiles and pages, there are varied tips and tricks for different social networking sites.
Facebook Fan pages, for instance, can easily reach three levels of consumers: the fans themselves, their friends, and whoever can access their Facebook Timeline and view their activities. From here, it is only a matter of optimizing social content to draw in as much of this three-tiered audience as possible.
As social media marketing continues to evolve, so too does social media analytics. Data from social media comprises what is typically called “social intelligence” – a collection of social signals that show, among other things:
- How well you’re doing on social media
- How much your company is being talked about
- How much buzz is negative and positive
Both the overall picture that social intelligence can provide as well as the more granular bits of information it consists of can help you better understand consumer behavior on social media.
If you’re not listening in on social interactions regarding your brand – conversations, comments, shares, and blogs – you’re missing out on actionable data.
Research by European digital marketing firm Reevoo shows that in the new sales process, social engagement can account for as much as 177% increases in conversion rates. Your conversion rates almost triple when you have effective social content that consumers interact with and engage.
This is why social engagement is a powerful medium of marketing and ecommerce. Engage your audience – social media is all about sharing, connecting, and interacting. Many companies do just one of these things: sharing. All they do is spam posts on social profiles and hope that something comes of it.
You need to do all of the above; not just one, and definitely not with half-hearted effort.
Measuring social data gathered through listening and engagement completes a self-contained cycle, and also restarts it anew. Social media is a constantly shifting industry, and the consumers within it are also a crowd that can be loyal one moment and fickle the next. To be consistently successful in your social campaigns, you need to listen, engage, measure, and from analysis of measured data, tweak your efforts and then repeat the cycle.
Listen, engage, measure. You can then re-strategize and re-optimize, and then go through the cycle again. Measuring campaign performance tells you your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
Social media is an ever-changing landscape of networking, shares, and trends dictated by two major power players: the brands and the consumers.
This means that tactics you employ in social efforts today might not be so effective a few months from now. You need to consistently research the industry, your market, and your consumers to figure out the right time to perform the right move.
You don’t have to launch a social media R&D team. Your current level of business development research will suffice, just make sure to also prioritize information regarding social media, current events in the social networking space, trends and patterns, and of course, your own brand’s place in all the chatter (remember: social intelligence!).
Procter & Gamble found out through their own research that social media is a sound investment. According to the Wall Street Journal online, Procter & Gamble wants to shave $10 billion off of its expenses by 2016, and $1 billion of that will come from their marketing budget – cost cuts achieved through researching where they can spend more efficiently, such as low-cost digital marketing like social media.
How much can you save or gain through proper social media research?
It’s plain to see that social media is not limited to setting up social profiles. Depending on how much you want to prioritize social in your digital marketing campaigns, it can turn into a business process of its own that demands significant investments of time, effort, and human resources.
Small to mid-level businesses typically don’t have the capability to keep up with the demands of a holistic, gainful social media strategy. This is where they outsource what they do not have the time, resources, or expertise to manage soundly. Luckily, like other aspects of digital marketing, social media also lends itself well to outsourcing.
Social media marketing can be a lucrative venture for those who know how. These seven fundamental tenets are meant to show you a high level, conceptual approach to social media marketing that you can then use for your own purposes.