Social media. These two words are now firmly entrenched in the marketing lexicon. Although this web phenomenon may be relatively new in the grand scheme of things, its importance is hard to overstate
If your business is to succeed in engaging with potential customers and driving sales, the chances are you’ll need to get to grips with social media.
Facts and figures
Highlighting this fact, a study conducted earlier this year by Social Media Examiner revealed that more than 9 in 10 marketers place significance on this form of web communication. For its 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the online magazine polled more than 2,800 marketers and 92% of them agreed that social media is important for their business. This was up from 86% in 2013.
However, despite the clear emphasis that companies are placing on social media, it seems there is uncertainty concerning this area. Only 37% of marketers said they were able to measure their social media ROI.
Which social media tactics work best?
Unsurprisingly given this finding, the number one question that marketers wanted an answer to was this: ‘Which social media marketing tactics work best?’
With this in mind, we’ve put together a brief guide detailing some of the key points to focus on when you’re trying to create a social media success story.
1. Choose the right channels
Before you start getting into the detail of social media communication, you’ll need to decide which channels to focus on. There are now a plethora of possibilities and you can’t engage with all of them. From established social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to fast growing sites like Reddit and Instagram, there is certainly no shortage of options. To achieve the best results with your campaigns, you’ll need to target those sites that your audience uses most.
To do this, you’ll have to think carefully about your customer demographic and research where these people tend to spend most of their time online. Once you have particular sites in mind, make sure you become familiar with what’s posted on them, how this content is posted and how organisations and individuals behave on the channels.
To achieve the best results with your campaigns, you’ll need to target those sites that your audience uses most
2. Avoid too much self-promotion
Traditional marketing typically involves unashamed promotion – in other words, telling potential customers how great your business is and why they should spend their money on your goods or services. Social media is different. If you bombard people with self-promoting posts, you’ll simply turn them off and send them elsewhere. People don’t visit these sites to have advertisements thrust down their throats. It’s therefore vital that you strike the right balance between engagement and promotion.
As a general rule, most of your posts should focus on sharing content that your audience finds valuable and interesting and fewer than 1 in 5 of your posts should overtly market your company.
3. Always engage with your audience
Audience engagement is another must. Your posts should prompt responses from web users. There are lots of ways to achieve this. For example, you can ask questions that provoke answers and start conversations. Another top tip is to provide readers with incentives for liking and sharing your content. You can do this by running competitions and offering loyalty points to active followers.
Also, social media should be seen as a two-way process. As well as providing your audience with information, make sure you take the time to respond to their comments. These sites provide you with the perfect opportunity to increase your level of customer insight. You can use the comments that followers make to tailor and improve your goods or services, and to show that you value your customers.
Focus on sharing content that your audience finds valuable and interesting… fewer than 1 in 5 of your posts should overtly market your company
4. Provide useful, thought-leading content
You should utilise social media to provide useful, thought-leading content to your audience too. This can enhance customer loyalty and trust, and help you to position your firm as an authority within your field.
You can share your expertise by providing advice and information, commenting on relevant and topical industry developments and by offering access to research findings. Bear in mind that the content you create must benefit your followers in some way.
Worth the effort
OK, so getting social media marketing right does require some time and effort, but the rewards can be immense. Bear in mind that Experian Hitwise data has shown that web users now spend more than a fifth of their time online visiting these networks. Separate data produced in 2013 by OnePoll suggested that Britons spent a combined total of 62 million hours each day on Facebook and Twitter. This means social media is an area you simply can’t afford to ignore.