Social Media Marketing

What is social media marketing?

It could be advertising on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. It could be spreading your sales message across those same social networks. I like to think of it as communicating on social sites to engage your potential customers, build trust and connections and promote your values, brand and ideals. Those people who match you will naturally be more inclined to do business with you.

Using Social Media For Marketing

social media marketing influenceIf you search on the web for social media marketing you’ll find a bewildering array of articles, blog posts, videos and white papers, all offering advice of some sort.

If you were to search the Google Webmaster forums for how important social media is to getting taken seriously by Google, you’d again find an impressive amount of advice. So the question is, why do so many small and medium businesses still shy away from engaging in social media?

At first sight it could be because the headlines are confusing, take this one for example

Which at first glance would seem to contradict the hype around social media, read on though and you’ll see the real picture emerging. This report indicates that the benefit to businesses from social media is in the ‘influence chain’ where many instances of the brand being noticed causes a consumer to trust the brand more.

It’s been known for many years that any sort of advertising or marketing needs for the most part to be repeated before consumers will buy. This means that before someone trusts you enough to make a purchase your name needs to seep into their subconscious.

Of course this is superseded by word of mouth from close family, friends and colleagues, because we tend to trust the judgement of the closest to us and so don’t need to trust the company. We trust the person making the recommendation not to refer us to a company or person they don’t trust.

This word of mouth marketing in the off line world is quite restricted, it only really occurs with those with whom we socialize the most. On line however it’s a vastly different story. We can and do socialize on line more regularly than we do off line. We can ‘chat’ with friends on Facebook on the way to and from work, while shopping and even while out in a restaurant or cinema.

On line, we can ask our ‘friends’ what they think about services, products and people and often get back immediate responses. This is where the ‘influence train’ can be seen working, you may see an ad on Facebook, you see it many times but you do nothing. Then one day you mention you’re think of buying whatever product that ad was for, you ask if anyone else has any experience with it.

Your friends reply and often you’ll go straight to the corporate website or to a review site to check further. You never click the ad but, seeing it time after time, influenced you to enquire further. Of course, if the company has a Facebook page and one of your friends ‘like’ the page, the influence now that you know someone who thinks this company or product ‘safe’ enough to like it. Even if you’ve never noticed the ad before, you probably will now because you’ve been made aware of it from a ‘trusted’ source.

You may decide to ‘like’ the page too, your friends will see this and you’ve now become someone else’s ‘trusted’ source. That’s influence at work on social media and only on one site. Image that effect multi[lied over several social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google + pages.

Social media, even if it doesn’t bring direct sales is still crucial to your marketing mix and you ignore it at your peril.

Social Media – Can you really afford to ignore it?

social media for small businessesFor those small businesses that still think Social Media is not for them, it’s time to wake up.
If your prospective customers expect to find you on Facebook and Twitter, then hadn’t you better be there?

If they can’t find you, but can find a competitor, who’s going to get the business?

Most small businesses start out ‘doing’ social media by posting lots of ‘sales’ type messages.
Then wonder why people don’t respond. Guess what? People go on social media sites to be social!
Obviously you can sometimes post about your products, especially when you have special offers.

What are you going to do with Social Media? Have you got both a Social Media policy and strategy?

      • Have you clear guidelines for employees?
      • Do they know what they can and can’t post to their own SM profiles?
      • Are you going to manage your 5M campaigns or are you going to appoint someone in your company to be responsible?

Either way you need to have a plan of action. You need to know what you want to achieve, how long it should take and how you’re going to get there.
You need to know the steps along the way and what tools you should use.

Tools you ask? Yes, tools, things to engage people and get them participating in SM with you.

  • Polls
  • Contests
  • Questions
  • Survey
  • Images.
  • Videos
  • Podcasts.

All these are tools you can use to connect and interact with your existing and prospective customers.
Ask them what they want, how they feel. Post images to make them laugh, cry or wonder. Post videos that do the same.
Create videos that educate them about your product or service. Do it in a way that entertains (see Will It Blend on Youtube).

  • Create competitions for them to create content for you.
  • Help them understand how to get the best out of your product or service.
  • Ask how they use your product or service, share it with everyone.
  • Offer discounts only available to your followers.

Remember always that there is fierce competition out there and that the consumer has more choice today than at any other time.
Consumers are better educated now too, research is so easy to do, so always bear in mind the question the consumer is asking. “What’s in it for me?”
Will it save them money, improve their life, make them smarter, better looking or raise their status.
What exactly will your product or service or the content you post on Social Media, your blog or anywhere else actually do for them?
This is at the heart of how to use SM for your business. By focusing on how you can help the consumer, you automatically position yourself as the expert they can trust.
You begin to dominate the place the majority of your customers hang out on line, Social Media.