I’ve come across many owner-managed businesses in the course of my travels who simply eschew social media marketing. Wow! Love it or hate it, social media marketing is here to stay, I say. Here’s my take in the state of things.

Social Media Marketing: 101

Social media refers to the means by which people socially interact through online conversations, commentary, or user-generated content.

Social media is not about broadcasting adverts to anyone and everyone in the manner of the more traditional forms of marketing.

So, if social media is about conversations within online communities, what’s social media marketing about? Social media marketing is the means by which brands and businesses stimulate interest in their products and services and drive traffic to their websites in order to generate sales.

In this day and age, you’d be hard-pushed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Facebook, Google or YouTube. These are the stalwarts of the social media age. But did you know that over 70 billion pieces of content are shared on FB each month and that Twitter alone generates over 190 million Tweets per daily? Phenomenal!

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+ and YouTube have absolutely exploded in recent years. Did you know that

  • over 74% of all online adults use social networking sites,
  • 95% of all business to consumer (B2C) brands online have at least one social account, and that
  • 81% of all business to business (B2B) companies have social media accounts?

With all these people socially networking onlne, guess how much traffic that generates? Facebook generates more Internet traffic in the US than the search engine giant, Google and generates 50% of all Internet traffic in the UK.

So, what does this mean for your business?

Well, whatever the size of your business, without a doubt, social media marketing, when used correctly, will help you engage with and build relationships with your prospects and customers.

 

Your customers are online right now sharing comments about you, liking your brand, or complaining about you; if you’re not online to defend yourself, you leave the door wide open for your competitors.

The other thing to be clear about is that people are now predominantly using online resources to research their customer purchasing journey, which no longer occurs in a linear fashion but rather more a juxtapositioning of multiple interactions across multiple touchpoints; as a brand, you want to ensure that you position yourself at each stage of that customer journey.

Why is this important? Because people buy from people, not brands. People will buy from you if they know, like and trust you and this is why companies spend a lot of money personalizing their story through social media.

So, the question you have to ask yourself is, what are your customers saying about you online?

What value does social media marketing offer?

So how can you make social media marketing work for you? The goal is to use social media marketing to recruit customers loyal to your brand who will become your advocates.

One tactic is to identify your ideal customer and focus on delivering high value content. You can do this by sharing content of high-perceived value in the form of how to guides, FAQs, user manuals, white papers or opinion pieces.

Offer your prospects this content in exchange for their name and email addresses (ethical bribe using trip wire products). By capturing leads in this manner you’ll be able to build ongoing relationships with your customers through regular email and newsletters.

This in turn will help you extend your relationship with them, thereby building brand recognition, trust and credibility. You’ll generate leads and referrals, establish yourself as a trusted authority, and over time, you’ll can encourage your advocates to purchase your products.

Mastering the sales funnel in this manner is a well-established practice employed by industry leaders and is a proven method of using social media marketing to improve sales conversions.

So, the question for business leaders today is not shall we do social media marketing at all, but rather, how well will we do it.

Author profile

Nina Epelle is a digital consultant and founder of Digital Gold HQ, an online marketing consultancy that helps individuals and organisations brand, position and promote themselves online. You can find Digital Gold HQ on Google Plus, or here www.digitalgoldhq.com. Alternatively, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.