Social Media Strategy From Scratch. The Why, What and How?

This is a guest article by AlanSmith.  Want to become a regular contributor? Check out our guest blogging guidelines.

Using the social media for marketing purposes is in reality technology powered word-of-mouth marketing. The World Wide Web is used to enable you and other people to talk about your service or product and thus market it. The social media is therefore a terrific way to push repeat business and catch the attention of new customers.

The advent of the social media has revolutionized the manner in which way people share information, connect with one another and discover new things. Some of the most popular social networking sites are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. They are the happening places for social interactions like sharing and discovering. Using that technology for your marketing helps to develop relationships, attract customers and get repeat business as friends share with people they are acquainted with on these sites.

One survey states that email marketing still drives more sales overall than the social media. But don’t tear up your Facebook pages after reading this piece of statistics! The social media, email marketing and traditional marketing all work in unison. They complement each other. The social media functions in an informal environment; it helps build communities related to customers, brand awareness and supplies small bits of information about your industry.

Emails have the obvious advantages of connecting directly with a customer, analytics show what the customer clicks/opens and you can use these statistics to ultimately deal with your customers directly and in a personalized manner. If you’re worried that email marketing and social media will not get along with one another – don’t fret. They certainly will!

What’s Better? Traditional or Social Media Marketing?

Because of new technology – which has given birth to social media – marketers have learned the importance of retaining existing customers; they have come to know that these customers are their biggest assets. With the new technology they can connect with existing customers and provide them reminders to return through the means of sharing, liking, or tweet buttons.

The bottom line is — businesses which succeed know that a sale does not ring the curtain down on marketing; in fact it starts after the first sale.

But social media marketing does not replace other marketing techniques. Traditional activities like direct mailing, advertising on television/newspapers, and going to networking events are still vital aspects of marketing. Therefore, social media marketing has to be combined with various marketing techniques to really succeed.

Basics of Social Media Marketing

People Trust Friends: We are surrounded by advertisements and have ceased to trust what brands claim – day in, day out, on television, radio and newspapers. But we trust our friends. We believe what they say. So, people will try out something new because their friends on the social media recommended it. These recommendations can greatly help drive new as well as repeat business.

Recommendations Become Purchases: Recommendations made by friends make a considerable impact on our buying decisions. In a survey done in the USA, the majority of respondents had learned about and purchased a product due to an online recommendation.

Provide Terrific Customer Experience: You must provide your customers a great user experience and the social media provides you the opportunity for them to share opinions and thoughts with other consumers and friends. In return for a great UX the social media will give you positive reviews, besides endorsements which will bring in new business.

Get Customer Permission: Marketing that is permission-based is a powerful weapon to break through the noisy, cluttered world of marketing. Get consent from existing customers and potential ones to provide them marketing messages. Then they will in all likelihood react favorably to your offerings and also share the news with friends. This permission can be: a ‘like’ on Facebook; a ‘follow’ on Twitter; LinkedIn Connection; Event attendance; email address opt-in.

Listen and Respond: Marketing in the social media is not about publicizing a message. It’s about monitoring what people are saying to you and your business and about responding to them. Your response can be either a direct reply to a customer’s query or a joint discussion.

Be Consistent, Patient: You have to realize that consistency and patience will ultimately pay off; in social media marketing, you require these virtues. The associations that you build up will finally get you customers with greater loyalty to you and ones who are willing to promote you.

Your Business and the Social Media

Social Media Explained using Donuts (credit)

Social Media Explained using Donuts (credit)

The following are the major social media services:

  • Facebook allows you to have conversations with clients, post videos, photos and do special offer promos, plus any other activity that will benefit you.
  • Twitter enables you to send/ receive short communications from clients and potential customers.
  • YouTube allows you to share your videos on its video-hosting service.
  • Blogs are like diaries online. They are a series of posts/articles on internet sites that contain details of subjects that are of relevance to the author.
  • Coupon sites offer discount coupons for services and goods as well as events.
  • Photo-sharing services online allow users to stock, arrange and share their picture collections.
  • Location based marketing websites supply specific marketing messages to clients at specific locations via mobile devices like tablets and Smartphones.
  • Customer review websites feature goods/services reviews by customers.

Many businesses also use online technology to shore up their marketing endeavors. These include: Apps for mobiles; transforming websites to ensure that they function well on mobiles; providing the option of online payment to customers.

How to Get Started

Lots of people nowadays use social media and they know the terminology involved with the various networking platforms. But for those who are not aware about this, these services may appear to be frightening. You will learn that these services are actually not only easy to use but they are also very affordable. Vitally, they act as the crucial link between your customers and your business.

Risks of Using Social Media

Everything is not hunky-dory when you do marketing in social media, which also has some risks, like money and time wasted as the returns may be very little or not real. Sometimes if wrong information pertaining to your business gets posted, it spreads very fast and actually harms your business prospects. Besides, if you break the laws that govern these sites with regard to copyright, spam, privacy and other issues, you’ll have to cope with legal hassles.

How to Build a Social Media Campaign

Set Realistic Goals: Your goals must not just be tangible; they must be such that they can be measured and also achievable. For instance, right now if you get seven new leads every month, you must set a realistic goal for the coming 12 months of, say, 100 new leads and not several thousand!

Know Your Market: You must know everything about your target market. This includes its demographics, psychology, point of view plus its priorities and interests.

Consider market influencers, purchasers and end users: Most buying decisions are taken after considering inputs from several persons. Also consider the social media actions of your customers.

Know on which social media your audience is. All people don’t prefer Facebook.

Stamp your presence on all key social networking platforms: Consider branding your business on major social media networks so customers can recognize you instantly. Also, include your branding elements in your profile. Don’t forget to post your phone number, your business location and work timings and a connection to your website.

The Big Guns

Facebook: Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world. One billion people are on it and so it’s something that can’t be ignored. On Facebook people can ‘like’ and/or ‘share’ content in the form of videos, photos and posts. This makes it a terrific marketing platform. Since nearly 50% of Facebook users are connected with businesses, it makes perfect sense to make it your number one social media marketing platform.

Twitter: Twitter enables small businesses to talk directly with clients and get feedback. It’s among the top 10 of most frequented sites and permits people to read and share interesting information. Twitter allows you to post promos, articles, news and jokes in pieces of 140 characters each. Twitter users ‘follow ‘and get ‘followed.’ The site is a terrific place for actual time news and insights. On this site you can quickly get feedback from customers, prospects, members as well as share messages in real time.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has the largest network of professionals on the net. It’s the most used network for professionals, besides being the social media base for plenty of B2B organizations. By creating professional connections on LinkedIn you can get precious advice on how to run your business and spread valuable content about your customer service.

Pinterest: It’s a photo sharing site, a bulletin board which enables users to discover and display videos and images. Pinterest focuses mainly on other people’s content, not yours.

YouTube: YouTube is easily available for everyone. Original videos are watched, discovered, shared by billions on this video social network.

Google+: Google+ attempts to make web sharing like actual life sharing through ‘hangouts’, ‘circles’ and so on. It allows segmentation of your contacts and allows you to share what you wish to share with people you want to share.

Summing Up

Social media has become a key ingredient of business marketing. And it’s growing every day. No business, small or big, can afford not to be on it. It doesn’t cost much – either by way of money, time or staff. So don’t think twice if you have not yet made your presence be felt on one or more social media platforms.

I hope this post has been helpful to you. Kindly share your thoughts on it in the comments section.

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