You may ask why people are making such a big deal about social media, rather than focusing on the traditional marketing techniques such as television, magazine and billboard ads. With over 90% of marketers using social media as part of their marketing strategy, if you don’t get involved with social media, your competitors will leave you behind.
In the United States, Facebook actually has more traffic than Google. YouTube has become the second largest search engine behind Google.
Why all this hype? Information posted on social media sites can be instantly seen by just about anyone. This creates more business exposure and when utilized properly can generate more traffic, therefore improving your search rankings. Benefits of this kind of exposure include raising awareness about a service or product, increasing customer loyalty and trust by connecting with them in a more interactive way, and you are able to listen to what your target audience is saying about your products or services.
Developing Your Service or Product’s Awareness
You must be dedicated to the amount of time you spend on social media sites and be consistent with your posts. Being consistent will overtime increase exposure, which will lead to an increase in sales. By posting updates, tweeting and blogging, you are able to develop a network among clients and consumers. The more time you spend on social media sites, the more experience you gain and you can become more established with your company on the web.
According to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the time commitment for marketers using social media is 6 hours or more for almost 60% and 15% use social media for over 20 hours per week. You may be thinking this is a lot of time to spend on the web posting information and content that relates to your products or services, but in actuality, the benefits you can reap from your time commitment outweigh the opportunity costs, especially when compared to that of traditional marketing.
So what actions can you take to increase awareness? Being present on social media sites allows consumers to be able to connect with you in a personal way. Rather than attempting to sell your focus first, listen to your followers and fans. Focus on your readers and post content that will promote comments, likes, and shares. This will establish conversations that will lead to feedback, and you can learn what your readers’ likes and opinions are leading to relationships between you and your readers, whether they are clients, colleagues, or consumers.
You can broaden your consumer base by establishing your presence on multiple media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, and Foursquare. Presence frequently on these sites is important because without consistency, you will disappear from your followers. However, don’t post because of obligation; post interesting content that people will want to read.
Yet, it would be time-consuming to login to each of these sites daily to tweet and blog and read others posts and blogs. So how can you reduce your time but still allow your presence to be seen on these sites? There are applications available that allow you to link several social sites to one central posting location. One in particular is HootSuite. Here you can manage your social media sites and send messages on one or multiple sites. You can also receive your feed from your social media sites on the dashboard on HootSuite, without having to log into all of your sites. You can even schedule when your messages are posted. This will save you lots of time and it’s easier to see what you’ve posted in the past so you do not duplicate content in your social media sites.
Customer Loyalty and Trust
You want you or your business’s personality to show through social media sites you are using. Be casual and friendly and have engaging two-way conversations. Posting consistently doesn’t mean you only have to tweet or blog about your company. At times, comment on others’ posts and ask questions, allowing the conversation to spark. Your readers want to participate in the conversation, so listen to what others have to say and go from there.
Here’s an interesting idea that Kraft Foods implemented on their Facebook page in order to promote comments by fans: ask questions about what the fans would like to see on your site in the future. This way you are allowing your fans to guide your content, which will bring more returning and new consumers to your site. Asking questions promotes users to share personal feelings and that is how you produce feelings of trust. When your site is more personal, viewers feel like they are talking to a real person, not a company. They feel connected. With these connections, you are building value to your company through increased customer loyalty.
Make your readers feel even more connected by commenting on their activity and responses. Communication is a two-way street and the more you can employ two-way conversations, the stronger your fan base will become. Respond to posts personally; for instance, leave your signature at the end of a comment. This will help maintain loyalty, and again, let the readers feel like they are following a friend rather than a company. Closer relationships give you insight to your customers preferences.
Another action you can take to maintain trust is by promoting others and their blog posts. Gather opinions from people who use your products or services. Repost these on your social media sites for future consumers to see. It is important for people to see what their peers think about a product or service you are promoting, because 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations over the 14% who may trust advertisements.
You may receive negative comments from people; follow up with them, see what you can do differently to make someone’s experience better. The really good thing about social media is that your readers’ concerns can be addressed promptly, promoting a good relationship with consumers. By staying considerate of your consumers’ needs, they begin to trust you and you can build a loyal customer base more easily.
Recording and Interpreting Data
Once you’ve made that customer connection and have started to collect the opinions and comments from others, you need to analyze your data. What’s the point of viewing your customer comments if you aren’t going to use them? Interpreting and using your data can help improve your existing methods of business. How do you analyze your data?
I’ve already previously explained about HootSuite, on which you can manage your social media sites. Here you can also create customized reports analyzing your posts, comments, and followers, choosing from over thirty analytic modules. For instance, your can analyze your Twitter account in numerous ways. Just for starters, you can create a report of mentions by influencers; this will provide you with a list of twitter users that are mentioning your Twitter account. You can also create a report enabling you to view keywords used in Twitter overtime and compare keywords. You can track your Twitter account growth. Furthermore, you can track your Twitter sentiment, which allows you to see the conversational tone of a keyword search. Also, you can track total clicks on links sent through your Twitter profile.
You can view Facebook insights as well. Reports include your daily likes, daily post feedback, page activity, and a comparison of daily likes. With these you can include a specific time period. You can also create a report on demographics, such as gender and a regional breakdown of location of fans.
Also available in HootSuite Social Analytics is Google Analytics, which include tracking how your tweets direct traffic to your website, a global heatmap of regional site traffic, top referring domains to your site, top content by page URL, and vital statistics, such as pageviews, visitors, and bounce rates. You can see more analytics and traffic stat on Google Analytics itself, but HootSuite has a minimal start to your research data through Google Analytics and containing it all in one site can make it easier for those who are just starting out.
For small businesses however, a spreadsheet of your own may help you begin recording your data and by interpreting it yourself, you can better understand how other analytics work. You can eventually grow to use Google Analytics and HootSuite Analytics, but it might be worth your time to start off with a spreadsheet of your own. This will help you really understand the value of your data before you use a program to help you with analyzing your data.
How do you use your data after you have gathered your information?
By tracking what your readers like and dislikes overtime, this will help drive your content in the right direction. Your tracking and statistics, no matter what tools you use, should be used to dictate future content delivery and overall social media focus. What does that mean? If people like videos, you better buy some video cameras and begin publishing you own unique videos. If tip sheets (PDFs), get the most attention, hire some writers and start pushing out tips sheets!
So how does Blue Atlas help you with Social Media Marketing For Your Your Business?
- Social Media Training
- Social Media Management
- Social Media Setup