The landscape of marketing has changed for 2016. After two years of large social media IPOs, extensive media coverage of the topic, and the general buzz of the public, no marketer should be unaware that there is such a thing as social media marketing. However, just knowing that something exists isn’t enough information for a savvy marketer to work with, especially when there is a lot of misinformation and opinion masquerading as fact on the topic. To help clarify things, here are five things that marketers should understand about social media marketing.
- Social Media Marketing Works
Among marketers, researchers, and the public in general, there is broad consensus that social media marketing works. Here are a few statistics to bolster the case:
– According to E-Strategy Trends, 80% of business executives said social is “important” or “somewhat important” in marketing and branding; 74% said the same for customer service; 70% for innovation and new product/service development; and 63% for employee recruiting.
– A study from Media Post stated that 72% of adult internet users in the U.S. are now active on at least one social network, up from 67% in 2012 and just 8% in 2005.
– Brandport released a study that showed 93% of online research starts with a search engine, and 68% of consumers check out companies on social networking sites before buying.
– Social media generates almost double the number of marketing leads as other marketing channels and 74% of marketers say that Facebook is an important part of the lead generation strategy.The evidence strongly suggests that social media marketing works for businesses. Regardless of a potential difficulties involved with social media marketing, the fact remains that hundreds of millions of people use social media networks and it’s simply unwise for business owners to ignore such a large audience. More importantly it’s very targeted and cheap.
- You Have to Pay To Play
.Promoted content on social network is normally inexpensive and businesses can just use it on the content they feel is most important. Because if the content is important and engaging, it’s worth it to extend the reach. One of the things that used to draw many business owners to social media marketing is that it’s free to use. While it’s possible to run a successful social media campaign without using paid content, marketers will always see better results with paid content. For example, if a particular post on Facebook reaches 500 people and has a 2% response rate, the marketer can expect 10 people to respond. However, if paid promotion is used to get the content to reach 50,000 people at the same response rate, marketer can expect 1,000 people to respond. The same thing is true for advertising on a social media channel. Rather than depending on people to randomly find a social media profile, targeted cost per click ads can ensure the right people see the ad and the business only pays when the content get the desired response (i.e someone clicks the ad). This doesn’t mean that businesses need to pour hundreds and thousands of dollars into their social media marketing campaign
- Get Real
It’s important to have realistic expectations for what social media can do for an organization. Remember, it’s a website, not a mind control device. Social media marketing has many of the same challenges that traditional marketing forms encounter. When a business sends out 5,000 mailers, they don’t expect 5,000 people to call them the next day (though they would certainly love it). A realistic response rate would be around 2%. The same is true for television, radio, or newspaper advertising. Marketers shouldn’t expect social media to magically outperform other marketing channels. Similarly, if a marketing campaign isn’t working for a particular product on traditional channels, there’s no reason to think that using the same campaign on social media would produce different results.
- Set Goals and Measure Progress
As with other forms of marketing, business owners need to set goals and establish metrics for measuring their progress. An incoherent marketing campaign is no more effect on social media than it would be on any other marketing channel. Establishing goals makes it easier to maintain proper focus when preparing content for social media marketing. Keep in mind to set goals that are attainable and that social media can realistically help. Depending on the industry, social media may not be the best way to sell products (e.g. house painting), but it can be used to spread awareness about the company.Establish metrics for measuring the progress of a campaign is as important as setting goals. There are a lot of ways to measure the effectiveness of social media, whether that it measuring reach, engagement, click through rates, or web traffic increases. No measure is particular more useful than another, it’s up to each individual organization to decide which metric is most important to them. What matters is that there is a benchmark that the organization can use to track its progress
- Keep Trying
Social media marketing is one of those things that can be learned in minutes but takes a lifetime to master. Twitter boasts that users can start using their profiles in minutes, but much to the chagrin of teenagers and marketers everywhere, hopping on Twitter and posting the first things that come to mind will rarely make someone an internet celebrity or attract new customers. In fact, even well planned campaigns can perform below expectations. A common mistake for beginning social media marketers is that they give up too quickly when a particular strategy or tactic doesn’t work. Rather than give up, marketers should use the old maxim and “try, try again.”Remember that advertising, marketing, and communications in general can be viewed as scientific endeavors and it’s important view all results, positive and negative, as valuable data for understanding the target audience. Form a hypothesis as to why a certain campaign worked or didn’t work and then test the hypothesis in a future campaign. To illustrate, say a restaurant advertised their lunch specials every day at noon, but didn’t see a good response given the size of the target audience. One possibility is that the announcements are coming out too late for people to adjust their lunch plans. So the restaurant can try posting lunch specials at 10:30 a.m. and see if the earlier time affects the reach and response rate. If it doesn’t, then continue to hypothesize about potential factors, test the hypothesis, measure the results, and the refine the tactics.
Social media marketing can work for any company, but it takes trial and effort to understand what motivates and moves a particular audience. And as social media continues to grow in importance, the more vital it will be for business to know and understand these important things about social media marketing.