As a small business owner, I’ll bet your friends, relatives, spouses, and most of all, your mother, have been telling you, “If you’re not on Facebook (or LinkedIn or Twitter, etc) you’re really losing out.”
Really? Well maybe.
On this page I’m going to discuss the ins and outs of social media marketing. I’m also going to tell you stuff about social media marketing that Mom never mentioned.
We’ll look at the following:
Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to ask, “Where are your customers?”
If your customers, clients or prospects are on social media, then you should be there too.
According to Internet World Stats 87% of the population of the U.S. were internet users as of June 30, 2014. And, 52% were on Facebook. So the answer may be yes.
“Ah,” you say, “But I market to businesses (also known as B2B). So I don’t need that stuff.”
Maybe, but businesses are run by people, and those people are on the internet.
Here is the biggest reason of all to be on social media. According to Local Vox, “85% of customers expect businesses to be active in social media.”
There is one huge advantage to social media marketing. It’s FREE.
There is a cost to social media marketing though, and it’s your time and effort.
You can cast a wide net to attract your target audience with social media. In the classic conversion funnel, only 2-4% of your visitors will turn out to be buyers.
Discouraging? Maybe not.
Considering even narrowly focused social networking sites can attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a day, even 2% could turn out to be a big number.
Here’s what Mom didn’t tell you. Social Media is a long term commitment. It can take a year or more to begin to see real results. If you’re not prepared to go the distance, don’t start.
There are many types of social media. The list below is certainly not all inclusive, but these are currently the popular leaders.
Facebook – The grand daddy of them all. With over 163 Million users as of June 30, 2014, it is the world’s most popular social network (Source World Internet Stats) If your customers are on the internet, they are probably on Facebook. People who “like” your Facebook page are more likely to buy from you. But remember, they click that “Like” button because they want more information from you about your products and services.
Twitter - Twitter consists of messages of 140 characters or less. If you want to grow your online presence, Twitter is the way to do it. Twitter is a great way to ask questions, have a conversation, find new customers, and build customer support. Twitter will also let you build in links to your website or blogging site.
LinkedIn - Whether you are B2C (Business to Customer) or B2B (Business to Business), if you want to grow your professional network, LinkedIn is the place. LinkedIn reported more that 300 million members world wide in 2014, with 100 million of those in the U.S. (Source LinkedIn Official Blog, April 18, 2014). LinkedIn is based on the theory of six degrees of separation. Originally postulated by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929, the theory states that everyone in the world is connected by six or fewer steps by introduction of a friend of a friend of a friend, etc.
Google+ - Launched in July of 2011, Google+ doesn’t have the reach of Facebook or Twitter, but it does have some unique features worth looking at. Once you fill out your profile, you can group contacts into “Circles” making it easier to follow them. Google+ also has a “Hangout” feature that allows video calls for up to 25 people. Using Google+ will also get your brand rated higher by the search engines. Google plus is young, and not saturated with other brands…yet. Less competition, more exposure.
Pinterest - Can you tell your story with pictures? If so, Pinterest may be for you. Pinterest is a social network based on images. It’s like window shopping on line. You can create a “board” (your brand name), add images. You can then build in links that will lead a visitor to your website. This is a great concept for any one that sells a product. The US user base is primarily female, but men use it too for images about sports or the great outdoors. If you use Pinterest, it’s important to know the different demographics that are Pinterest users.
Here’s something else Mom never told you about social media marketing.
If you’re going to do it right, you need a plan.
First you have to decide exactly what it is you want Social Media to accomplish for you. Is it more visits to your website? Sign ups for your email newsletter? More sales of your product? Whatever you choose, make sure it is measurable.
Are you selling a product or a service? Your plan should outline your target markets. You should outline your ad offers and campaigns.
Another thing to consider is getting a Social Media Manager. A good social media manager can help you by helping you manage multiple accounts from one place. You can plan posts in advance, and the manager will release them for you. Managers can also give you metrics on your social media accounts. The one I use is Hootsuite. Right now, they are the big one. They have a free plan or a pro plan that is very reasonable.
How much time and effort are you willing to put in? If you are going to post regularly you should consider developing a social media calendar. This can be a simple calendar or an Excel spreadsheet listing the dates and topics of postings on the various media sites you are using. This is especially helpful if there are seasonal topics for your product or service.
"Wow,” you say, “This sounds like a lot of work.”
It is. But setting this up in advance forces you to think about topics to post about. This way you don’t wind up panicked about a post because you can’t think of anything to say. Or worse, just deciding you’ll skip it. Posting regularly is what it is all about. If you stop, people lose interest quickly.
Don’t let this discourage you. Remember, social media is about two way communication. Inviting questions and comments about your posts should generate good discussions that will interest your visitors.
Here’s something else Mom never mentioned. If you don’t measure the results of your social media efforts, all of the stuff we have talked about doing doesn’t mean a thing.
The good news is you can easily get results. Computers are good at counting. This means you can get so much data you can drown in it. I suggest you pick 4 or 5 meaningful statistics and track them over time. A simple Excel spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this.
The challenge here is that measuring results from social media gets “fuzzy”. Let me explain. I admit I am a numbers guy. I like to measure everything. As business owners, most of us care about three things: 1. Sales; 2. Expenses; and 3. Profit. Measure these and you get answers in dollars and cents. In other words hard numbers you can take to the bank (pun intended).
What do you get when you measure social media results? The number of likes on your Facebook page went from 100 to 103. A 3% gain in a week. That’s a nice number but how many sales did it lead to? We know that people who “like” your Facebook page are more likely to buy from you, but it’s tough to track these sales directly.
How about Twitter? Suppose your followers increased 10% and retweets went up 20%. Again, nice numbers. How many direct sales resulted from these results?
That’s what I mean by “fuzzy”.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t measure these things. You definitely should. Why? Because, as these numbers grow, you are measuring the exposure your business is getting on the internet. The more, the better, right?
You need to decide in advance which social media you are going to use. My advice is to pick just one or two. Then after nine months to a year, evaluate your results. If you aren’t seeing results, replace the poorest performer with something else. Then start again.
Another thing to think about is keeping your message consistent across all your marketing channels. I can help you with that. Go to my Services Page and check out the Key Message Copy Platform.
Remember your goal is to expose your business to as many people as possible. Social media can definitely help you achieve that goal