06 Aug Why Use Social Media Marketing As Part of Your Overall Branding Strategy?
Why Use Social Media Marketing? There is certainly no shortage of hype around the potential results a small business owner can receive by being “more engaged” across social media channels. Every major magazine or online article which targets business owners urges us to get more connected in the conversation with potential and existing customers.
According to MediaPost, Social networks and blogs in the U.S reach nearly 80% of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans’ time spent online. (MediaPost) so it is hard to argue with why major companies are fixated on pushing the boundaries when they can connect socially with consumers.
We are conditioned by larger brands, who invest heavily in testing and advertising that an entrepreneur can use social media to achieve immediate success and skyrocket national or international sales. Also known as “Going Viral.”
Yes, it’s where the eyeballs are fixated – but don’t expect the creation of new accounts to instantly drive customers to your door. Social media is a long term solution and requires much more than just making regular posts to Google+, Facebook or Twitter. As new platforms such as Instagram, Vine or SnapChat become available, it also acquires agility to go where those eyeballs migrate. You need an effective social media marketing strategy that incorporates a tangible social media marketing plan. Many businesses confuse posting often to their social media accounts as a plan. You need to first determine your brand and voice and the type of helpful information you need to build your brand. Then the next step is to develop your content to communicate that message to your followers.
Before you start posting it is important to identify the benefits and challenges, understand what your objectives are for each platform and ultimately cater your content marketing plan to integrate your efforts to gain more reach.
Social Media Marketing Benefits and Expectations
Most small and local businesses end up disappointed with their social media marketing roi because their expectations were that their posts would “Go Viral” and generate tons of leads simply by being seen on the major platforms.
As entrepreneurs, we tend to oversell our products and services instead of concentrating on building our brand.
Business owners who expect to see a direct bottom line increase or engagement numbers constantly increasing often feel cheated if they solely do social media as a test pilot or with a short term mindset. The work requirement to consistently research, create and share unique content demands an enormous amount of effort.
When the smoke and mirrors clear, business owners begin to see the key benefits that social media provides includes:
• Unique branding opportunities in a positive or fun manner
• Ability to showcase their business in authoritative way through new technologies
• Open communication channels with potential and current customers for better service
• Higher potential search engine rankings from social signals.
• A sounding board to protect and build your reputation as a leader in your field
• A platform to counter any negative PR
When visitors to your social media pages begin following you and benefit from your free information, they may then decide to buy from you or share your information with their network.
As search results become more personalized for users, Google is using social media in part as a gauge to determine if your web pages along with your social media profiles belong on Page One. The objective is to build social proof that you are a reputable company and want to help those that are interested in what your business offers.
Best Social Media Platforms
When deciding which social media platform your company should use, start first with your audience. Ask your current customers which social media sites they frequent and why. It’s important to understand the culture of each social media platform. People go to Facebook for relationships, information and to have fun, while they go to LinkedIn for business only. This infamous donut comparison summarizes this point well:
Social Media Statistics
In a recent study of over 5,000 businesses, HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost 3 times higher than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%). In other words, of all the traffic that came to these business’ websites via social media, .98% of that traffic converted into leads, compared to LinkedIn’s 2.74%. However, for restaurants and clubs, Facebook plays a major role.
The following defines the major social media platforms in more detail:
Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends and family interests, share pictures and videos, learn more about people’s interests, and ultimately become more connected.
Facebook’s mission has been to give people the power to share and make the world more open and transparent through the collection of real social data or what they call the social graph. As the site has matured to one billion users and much more mobile activity, Facebook has refined their display and search capabilities.
Facebook has become recess from daily life for most users who seek to get a fix of what their friends are doing. The activity occurring through user newsfeeds and across the network continues to be a more personalized and customized experience.
Although ads have now become more prominent within all areas of the site, most of the content on Facebook is still user generated and users don’t want to be sold to; they are there for fun or out of boredom during a lull in their day.
Google+ started with a much more technologically savvy crowd of engineers and heavy Google users but is seeing major growth recently, with digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas sharing that Google+ is adding 625,000 users each day (Jeff Bullas)
In response to Facebook’s success in social media, Google continues to add social layers to their existing product suites such as YouTube and Gmail.
Whether you want to share breaking news, updates, promotions, links, or photos, Google+ provides a platform to do so through your profile or brand pages. Anything that you share can be made public and end up in Google search results or kept private for a designated certain network, or what Google calls a Circle to view.
One of the more intriguing features is face-to-face Video group chatting via Google+ Hangouts. You can create a circle of customers, friends, or co-workers to video chat with instantly and for free unlike other meeting services such as GotoWebinar.
You can link content you publish on your specific domain to your Google+ profile. Your picture can be associated with your post in a Google search and this provides instant branding. Additionally you can add other sites where you contribute and obtain equal recognition. The objective is to build your personal brand authority while you continue to post quality content across the Internet. The stronger your brand, the better chance your posts have of ranking in the Google search engine results.
YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, view and share videos. Your activity on YouTube can now directly sync up with your Google+ efforts.
YouTube displays a wide variety of user-generated video content including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations including CBS, BBC, VEVO, and Hulu offer some of their material via the site, as part of the YouTube partnership program.
YouTube videos rank very quickly in the search engines and should be a component of every small or local business’s marketing campaign. They can help to brand you as an authority while driving targeted traffic to your website.
LinkedIn can be viewed as an online version of a business networking group. You can make contacts that will lead to partnerships with new vendors or even use it as a prospecting tool. The same rules apply; you want to offer value to others in return for the value they can provide your business. LinkedIn is B2B (business to business), as opposed to B2C (business to consumer).
Twitter connects businesses to customers in real-time and with limitations of 140 characters. Businesses use Twitter to quickly share information with people interested in their products and services, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and influential people. Twitter is a great place to brand your organization’s personality and it is easy to talk directly to an individual anywhere in the world.
Two visually focused social media sites, Pinterest and Instagram, have become widely adopted by younger generations and females.
Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. It is growing rapidly and it is worth exploring your potential customers’ activities. You can do so by browsing pinboards created by other people.
Instagram provides a photo sharing and editing mobile application that instantly turns mobile users into photographers. According to Jeff Bullas, It has tripled its user base form 10 million in Sept 2011 to 30 million in April 2012. People can like and make comments about your images. Instagram has become the “go to” application and was purchased by Facebook. Instagram added Video recording and editing to their platform
Vine is a new social media platform that was launched by Twitter. Vine is a video-sharing app. But it’s not just any video-sharing app. It’s designed in a way for you to film short, separate instances so they can be linked together for a total of six seconds. Each short video plays in a continuous loop, and are viewable directly in Twitter’s timeline.
Social Media Marketing Strategy
It is advisable to ensure that your content marketing program be tied into your social media campaign.
If you post a great video on YouTube, it can then be posted on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn pages. With the content linking back to your website, you will generate traffic and back links that help your SEO rankings. In addition, when your social media posts are optimized properly, they can rank in the search engines in addition to your web pages and other posted content.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A SOCIAL MEDIA VENDOR
If you are interested in using social media for marketing, hiring a professional social media professional is important. Use the following questions to ensure that you invest in the best resource:
1. What social channel or platform do you see being the most effective for my niche?
2. Will you work with us to create a social media strategy or do you just set up accounts and post content?
3. How do you measure the success of my social media campaign?
4. What can we do to assist your efforts?
7. What types of realistic results should I expect?
8. Will I be responsible for all content creation or is that part of your service?
9. Do you require a contract for your social media services? How long?
The Niche Dominance digital media marketing strategies are designed to evolve with the rapidly changing search engine environment so your business can achieve a competitive advantage in today’s growing competitive landscape. This includes social media strategy consulting. We develop an effective social media strategy that will help to brand you as an authority while improving your search engine rankings.