This is Part 2 of the article in which I hope to make social media marketing less mysterious. In Part 1 of this article, I explained social media evolution from a technology perspective. In this part of the article, I will look at social media marketing from a marketing perspective.
So, when we look at social media marketing from a technology perspective, we find that social media is a tool. It isn't a revolution; rather it naturally evolved on the merge-line of other marketing-oriented tools. Social media can easily be incorporated by any business which utilize many or most of the following technologies in their marketing and customer support efforts: website, directory listings, search engines, e-mails, CRMs, customer service portals, and pay-per-click advertisement platforms.
Looking at social media marketing from a marketing perspective, I am going to answer the following question:
Many people are afraid of social media marketing. They would better have a marketing company do it all for them. But let me tell you something I saw on an ad of one company: “Knowledge defeats fear”. And I am going to try and help you make this first step towards understanding social media marketing. In fact, this should be your second step since this is my second post on this subject.
Here is my thesis: Social media is simply a tool that helps you engage with your clients and prospects. If your business is solid and you have ample experience marketing it through various marketing mediums, social media marketing won't puzzle you. It's just another medium that has many of the same elements in its core. Let me take you on an in-depth tour on this subject.
How does your business find clients? Through references, e-mail marketing, search engine marketing, cold calling, advertisement, and the like? Well, social media marketing requires the same skillset that you would normally use to reach your new and existing clients. Let's take a look at social media through a prism, specific to each of the marketing ways.
It’s right there! Once you have a solid fan base on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like, anything they do on your social page won’t be unnoticed – be that a comment, recommendation (such as LIKE or PLUS) or sharing. Friends of your followers will see many of these interactions on your page organically. Some social networks help you reach even more of your fans and their friends through paid advertisement. So, in business, when someone recommends your business to someone, we call it a referral. Well, how would you call it when someone on a social network finds your business based on an indirect recommendation from a friend? A referral? Thus, if you know how to generate referral business without a social network, it could be even easier to do it with the help of social network.
Successfull businesses advertise where ROI is high. The mediums of choice could be magazines, local newspapers, radio, TV, flyers, traveling billboards, you name it. Regardless of the medium, there is one common task - to capture attention - while the ultimate goal is to generate interest.
Posting on social media is very similar. The ultimate goal on your social page, be that Facebook, Twitter or Google+, is to have a highly-engaged fan base. Engagement on a social page translates to interest towards your company. Active interest of your fans, in turn, translates to brand awareness, loyalty, increased sales, wider reach, better rankings in social search and search engines, and much more.
So to get your fans interested in your business, you should strive to get them interested in each of your posts. Hence, comes another similarity between social media and conventional advertisement: your task is to capture attention. What's different is the direction of interest. When advertising through traditional mediums, you would normally generate interest towards your products and services. In social media, you should avoid selling directly. People come to social sites to socialize, and you need to help them do just that. In other words, you need to establish healthy conversation on your social page through creative captivating posts. Your ROI comes indirectly - through increased brand awareness.
Depending on the liveliness of your page – and it’s your main goal to make your social page lively – your posts will be visible to your followers. Posts could be anything – promotion, news, contests, questions, assignments, etc. If you already do e-mail marketing, you will have a good subject base for your social posts. Of course, you will need to make some adjustments to your tactics, content and the mood of your posts. Social sites (with a few exceptions) ask for style of communication that is friendlier and less corporate.
If you understand some basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), optimizing your social media page won't be terribly puzzling. Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites all have search functionality. Anytime you see a search box, think KEYWORDS. Social networks search within their walled gardens while search engines search the web. But they all have one thing in common - they search based on keywords you enter and the documents they return have those keywords in the content. Another similarity is that social sites and search engines weight results based on popularity and rank accordingly.
The difference is how they define popularity. Search engines think that a page is popular when other pages link to it. Social networks factor in user engagement instead. Hence, to achieve great results on your social page, you need to rank well for the keywords that describe your business. And to rank well, the level of engagement on your social page must be high. In other words, you need to build a high-quality fan base where users are active. Obviously, the more fans, the better.
So yes, social media marketing is easy and simple. It’s a tool that you should use. If your business is solid and you are experienced with various marketing mediums, getting this tool work for you will take no time at all. All you need to do is post, respond, and make it interesting. I bet the last part sounds tedious. Don’t worry – you may not realize it, but making your business interesting is something you have been doing all this time. You’ve been talking to your clients, answering their questions, addressing their concerns, trying to bringing a smile on their faces. That's exactly what you should do on your social page!