The Necessity Of An Online Presence
When was the last time you opened a phone book? Do you even own one? If you can’t remember, then you’re not alone. While phone books were useful tools for a long time, they always had limitations: once printed, they couldn’t be updated; they were never complete, with some businesses left off; sometimes it cost money to have your business listed; and most people only had access to them at home.
In contrast, the internet is constantly updated and available anywhere your phone has service. Tools like Google Business Listing and Facebook have become the phone books of the 21st Century, with many people turning to these sites for information on a business’ location, hours of operation, services, prices, and customer reviews. In fact, 95% of Millennials, 87% of Gen X’ers, and 70% of people aged 45 to 60 expect a business to have an active Facebook page. This explains why 80 million small businesses have Facebook Pages for their company; businesses are recognizing that having a presence on social media is important if they want potential clients to know they exist.
Similarly, many customers see social media platforms as a way to access customer service. As Marketing Insider Group explains, “Social platforms have successfully broken down barriers between companies and their customers. Now, instead of calling a customer service line, many people turn to Facebook or Twitter to solve problems or find information.” Customers may ask questions or post concerns hoping to find an employee or existing customer who can help them. Companies that respond promptly and address customers’ concerns thoroughly can build excellent word of mouth this way for very little cost. These interactions can also be a great way to measure how well customers are responding to your brand. And for some age groups who are phone-averse, this may be the only way they are willing to reach out to your business.
Social Media Marketing Works…When It’s Done Right
A 2013 study by researchers at Aalto University, the University at Buffalo, and Texas A&M University was one of the first to show that the more customers engaged with a company through social media, the higher the company’s revenue from those customers. In fact, customers who engaged with the business regularly typically contributed 5.6% more revenue to the business and visited the business 5% more than customers who did not engage with the brand online.
More recent data from Fatbit Technologies demonstrates the power for social media engagement between businesses and their customers. Data from 2017 shows that 75% of people buy a product after seeing it in their social media feeds, and 57% of people are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media. Significantly, social media marketing has above 100% leads-closing rate compared to other forms of outbound marketing. In non-marketing terms, this means that social media marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing available.
Authenticity And Credibility Over Salesmanship
Audiences today have been bombarded with traditional forms of advertising for most (if not all) of their lives. They’re savvy and not easily led by slick sales pitches or gimmicky promotions. In fact, one of the important traits audiences want from companies today is authenticity. Authentic, on-brand social media posts give audiences a sense that a company is an organization of people rather than a faceless corporate megalith. When companies demonstrate that they share their customers’ values and conduct themselves in ethical ways, audiences respond by engaging with the brand.
Social media is also a great way to show potential customers that you can deliver the goods or services they want. A strong social media profile that demonstrates deep knowledge of your business and awareness of important industry trends does a lot to build potential customers’ confidence in your ability. Further, by encouraging existing customers to leave reviews for your business on social media, you can show potential customers your dedication to customer satisfaction, quality workmanship, or whatever you value instead of simply telling them the same things they hear from every other company.
Tips For Social Media Marketing Success
Clearly, social media marketing is an important component of a digital marketing scheme. But if you’ve never operated a professional social media page, it can seem overwhelming. How do you turn your social media efforts into success?
Here are some top tips from TracSoft’s marketing team:
- Set clear goals and track them. Don’t simply set up a marketing page and wait for it to work. Think about what you actually want out of this marketing. Do you want to increase brand recognition? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Are you most interested in increasing online sales? in-store visits? Once you have your goals, figure out what metrics you need to track and track them carefully. Likely, you’ll find you need to adjust your strategy here and there before you find what works for you.
- Choose one or two platforms to start with. There are so many social media platforms available today that you might be tempted to set up accounts on all of them. However, social media can be time-consuming, especially if you’re new to it, so a better approach is to start with one or two platforms. Choose platforms that make sense for the kind of business you do and the audience you are trying to reach.
- Take time to learn the culture of your platform. The internet has a culture, complete with rules for how to behave toward and engage with other users. Follow some businesses you know and see how they interact with customers. The goal is not for your posts to be exactly like everyone else’s, but they should indicate that you know how to play the game.
- Tailor your content to the platform as well as your audience. Certain kinds of content do better on certain kinds of social media sites. Instagram and Pinterest are very visual, for instance, so they’re not the best platform to share large chunks of text. But Facebook and Tumblr, which both are built for more text, are great places to share a snippet of your new blog post or an announcement about an important achievement or policy change. Similarly, tailor your language to your audience. If your audience is business people, then the kind of informal language you’d use with teens might come off as childish or cavalier.
- Be consistent with your brand and authentic with your values. Good marketing relies on a solid brand identity, which is often built around core values or a central mission. Before you begin your social media marketing, you may find it helpful to create a brand style guide that can guide your posts to remain on-brand. It’s important to avoid posting content that conflicts with your brand identity because doing so will make you seem hypocritical, inauthentic, and pandering. People want to know what a business really stands for. They want to see that that business shares their values. But if you make them feel you are simply following the crowd, your efforts may backfire.
- Post quality content on a regular schedule. In most cases, posting content that is engaging and meaningful to your customers is more important than posting often. However, there should be a balance. If you don’t post often enough, your content will not be prioritized by the social media platform. So start with a manageable goal. Maybe post once or twice a week to begin, but try to post at the same time on the same day. Make those posts really interesting, and make sure to return to the post to read and respond to comments.
- Finally, engage with your followers and encourage their engagement. Social media users get a thrill when they receive a like or a comment back from you. It makes them feel like you actually care about your customers. Even angry commenters will often soften if you address them respectfully and make them feel heard. While it is important to address negative comments with honesty (and it’s ok to point out ways that you have tried to resolve any problems the commenter may have made), always be the bigger person. Another approach that makes users feel heard is asking them to comment or post on your page in ways that encourage conversation. For instance, a dog grooming business might ask its followers to share their fanciest pet pictures, or a pizzeria might post a poll asking users to vote on their favorite toppings.
Image by: Elio Santos
Written by: Brittany Howard