Cyberlicious® strives to keep you up-to-date with the very latest digital marketing methods, as well as new developments in the field.
That being said, it’s not really news that social media is a popular and highly-effective way to market your company. However, like any tool, there is a right way to use it and a wrong way, a way that gets great results, and an ineffective way that gets lousy results, no results, or even negative results. Of course, whenever a particular technology is popular, lots of people – including business owners – will start using it simply because it is popular, not because they actually understand whether it’s the right tool for their needs or not. Unfortunately, a company’s social media profile is not like the Field of Dreams; just because you build it does not necessarily mean that they will come. If you want that investment of time, effort, and money to accomplish great things for your company, then you’ll have to do things right.
The first thing you should identify is exactly what it is that you’re trying to accomplish; you’re not likely to hit your target if you don’t know where it is. Now, of course, a less-forward-thinking business owner will be able to think only about sales. It is true that social media offers the benefit of its viral nature. If your sales message is interesting enough, it can get spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, your message will be operating only on whatever momentum it can bring to the table itself. You’re going to have to push actively for each new message that you want to get out there…and any seasoned salesman or marketing specialist will tell you in a second that you do not want to have to push for every single dollar. You might have to start out working hard to establish your brand or your book of business initially, but if you’ve done your job well, it should start working for you and bringing in business before you even step foot out of bed in the morning. Only then does your return on investment see a true exponential growth.
See, the problem is that social media isn’t set up for sales; it’s set up for…well, being social. Sales, let’s face it: not generally viewed (at least by those being sold to) as such a social activity. Your company’s ideal option is to use social media for its intended purpose: build a community around your brand. Community – as opposed to focusing on whether or not its members want to buy from you – is about relationships and interaction. Social media provides a venue for you to spread news, encourage discussions, or even provide contests and entertainment. The more engaging of a community you create, the more its members will want to share it with friends, and the more they’ll want to keep coming back to participate. As you strengthen your image in their minds, they’ll be more likely to choose or recommend your company over a competitor. As you whet your followers’ anticipation to participate in your community, they will think of your business – and reasons to patronize it – more often. Rather than merely occupying a slot in their mental Rolodexes®, to be searched for only when they are in specific need of your product/service, your company has now claimed a spot as a part of their lives. You’re not just “a place to purchase X”; you’re “that place where I look forward to Y.”
Beware the temptation of Likes! That might seem like a slightly abrupt warning, but it is another trap into which many are prone to fall, rather than patiently letting a community be what it will be. They come up with some scheme to induce as many Likes (or corresponding public show of approval) as possible – maybe a contest, or a funny video, or a special offer. Okay, now they’ve racked up an impressive number of likes…but to what end? Once the freebies are gone, has anything been done to give the new arrivals a desire to stick around and participate in the community, or has it merely been the online equivalent of the sudden influx of “friends” summoned by a free kegger (complete with the air of emptiness and futility left over the following morning)? There is a point to running a Likes campaign, but it’s like any other tool: it has to be used the right way. Sometimes, you need to gauge interest, either in a new product, or in a new business direction, or maybe even to encourage potential investors or business partners. When used properly, a Likes campaign can be the cheapest and easiest marketing survey you’ve ever taken.
One other word of caution/advice: not all social media sites are created equal, and you’re going to want to pick the right one for the right job. Facebook, for instance, may be the most popular site overall, but it’s not going to be your venue of choice if your target demographic isn’t general consumers under the age of 50. If your company specifically targets females, either as consumers or decision-makers, then Pinterest seems to be the place to connect with them. If, on the other hand, your business is B2B or otherwise professionally-related, then you really don’t want it to get mixed up all that much in communities that are primarily personal in nature. That’s why LinkedIn is specifically designed for professionals, and is perfectly suited for your marketing needs.
If it seems like Social Media Marketing involves a lot of sensitive nuances, it never hurts to consult an expert; but when navigated properly, your company’s online community will work for you in ways you can only dream of! Be social; be smart.