Social media marketing carries many benefits. One of the most important is that you don’t have to front any cash for most social media services. Of course, there’s a downside: Most services require a significant time investment to initiate and maintain a social media marketing campaign, and many limit distribution of unpaid posts, charging for advertising and distributing posts to your desired markets.
Casting a wide net to catch your target market
The audience for social media is huge. By the second quarter of 2021, Facebook claimed 2.85 billion monthly active users worldwide. Slightly less than 85 percent of Facebook’s traffic comes from outside the US and Canada
Basic marketing focuses on the need for branding, name recognition, visibility, presence, or top-of-mind awareness. Call it what you will — you want people to remember your company name when they’re in need of your product or service. Social media services, of almost every type, are excellent ways to build your brand
If you’re focused on only short-term benefits, you’d better shake that thought loose and get your head into the long-term game that’s played in the social media world. To build effective relationships in social media, you’re expected to
- Establish your expertise
- Participate regularly as a good citizen of whichever social media world you inhabit; follow site rules and abide by whatever conventions have been established.
- Avoid overt self-promotion
- Resist hard-sell techniques except in paid advertising
- Provide value with links, resources, and unbiased information
Watch for steady growth in the number of your followers on a particular service or the number of people who recommend your site to others; increased downloads of articles or other tools that provide detailed information on a topic; or repeat visits to your site. All these signs indicate you’re building relationships that may later lead to if not a direct sale then a word-of-web recommendation to someone who does buy
Improving business processes
Already, many clever businesses have found ways to use social media to improve business processes. Though individual applications depend on the nature of your business, consider leveraging social media to
- Promptly detect and correct customer problems or complaints
- Obtain customer feedback and input on new product designs or changes
- Provide tech support to many people at one time; if one person has a question, chances are good that others do, too
- Improve service delivery, such as cafes that accept to-go orders on Twitter or Facebook, or food carts that notify customers where and when their carts will arrive
- Locate qualified new vendors, service providers, and employees by using professional networks such as LinkedIn
- Collect critical market intelligence on your industry and competitors by watching content on appropriate social media.
- Use geolocation, tweets, and mobile search services to drive neighborhood traffic to brick-and-mortar stores during slow times and to acquire new customer
Marketing is only part of your company, but all of your company is marketing. Social media is a ripe environment for this hypothesis, where every part of a company, from human resources to tech support, and from engineering to sales, can be involved
Improving search engine rankings
Just as you optimize your website, you should optimize your social media outlets for search engine ranking. Now that search engines are cataloging Twitter and Facebook and other appearances on social media, you can gain additional front-page real estate for your company on Google and Yahoo!/Bing (which now share the same search algorithms and usually produce similar results)
Selling in the social media marketplace
Conventional thinking several years ago suggested that social media was designed for long-term engagement, for marketing and branding rather than for sales. However, more and more social media channels now offer the opportunity for direct sales from their sites. In addition to selling on major social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter (using the Buy Now feature), and Instagram (using third-party add-ons such as Olapic), you will also find selling opportunities on smaller, niche social media:
- Sell music and event tickets. SoundCloud and ReverbNation, which cater to music and entertainment, are appropriate social media sites for these products.
- Include a link to your online store on social-shopping services. Recommend products — particularly apparel, jewelry, beauty, and decor — as Stylehive does
- Offer promotional codes or special deals to followers. Offering codes or deals on particular networks encourages your followers to visit your site to make a purchase. You can also announce sales or events
- Place links to online or third-party stores such as Etsy on your profile pages on various services. Some social media channels offer widgets that visually showcase your products and link to your online store, PayPal, or the equivalent to conclude a transaction
- Include a sign-up option for your e-newsletter. It offers a bridge to sales