The whole idea of social media marketing can be a bit overwhelming. People are connected to each other more than ever on social media platforms, creating conversation about your brand and industry.
There are so many platforms, so many choices and so many misconceptions.
Companies that are smart and disciplined in all other areas of their business sometimes act irrationally due to their lack of expertise in this area.
Common mistakes include:
- Ignoring social media marketing because it is so foreign to them. Social networks and blogs are the 4th most popular online activities online, including beating personal email. 67% of global users visit member communities and 22% of all time spent on the internet is on social media sites.On a daily basis, individuals are talking about your brand, so companies better listen.
- Assuming social media is a cheap and fast “miracle pill.” Entrepreneurs want everything (brand awareness, recall, more word of mouth, more business) and they want it fast. Digital market takes patience and timing. You can’t join an online social network and derive any value from it unless you take the time to meet the right people, connect, share, build, and grow.
- Assuming that any kid who grew up with the Internet is capable of devising, executing and maintaining a social media campaign. It’s not about technology or if you grew up in the digital age (even though you may have an upper-hand) but about effective strategy. There is no one size fits all, and ultimately it’s not about “What are we doing in XXX social media network?” but about why should you be in that social media network. It’s about choosing YouTube over Facebook or focusing on a blog instead of Twitter. It’s about adding value to your consumer and where they “reside” digitally.
The fact of the matter is, social media marketing works and it can work very effectively if done strategically. Virtually every major corporation is devoting significant resources to creating and monitoring social media campaigns for opportunities and what individuals say about their brand.
Smaller businesses and start-up businesses are also jumping on the wagon.
Social media campaigns improve your standing on search engines like Google, they enhance your brand, they sell your products, they drive traffic to your website and they can help you gain new customers and serve current customers.
A good social media campaign will cost you time, money and effort. It can take months, even a year for a campaign to pay off… but the payoffs are usually worth the wait.
Forrester Research did some research and have come up with figures that indicate that not only is it working for companies, but there will be explosive growth in the use of social media marketing in the coming years:
What Forrester is saying is that businesses are expected to spend 3.1 billion in social media marketing in 2014 and another $3.16 billion on search engine marketing.
Before embarking on a social media marketing plan, it is important to ask a number of key questions. Some of the questions you’ll be able to answer for yourself, others you’ll need the guidance of social media experts.
1. Is social media marketing right for my business?
- Is my target audience using social media? If so, where?
- Will I get a better ROI (return on investment) from social media and internet marketing, rather than traditional advertising and other marketing platforms.
2. What are your social media marketing goals?
A. Businesses often make the mistake of diving into their social media campaigns without sufficient thought or planning. Make a list of what you want to accomplish:
- More sales leads.
- More direct sales (for ecommerce web sites).
- Greater brand awareness.
- Brand engagement.
3. Which social media platforms are best suited for achieving my business’ goals?
- Can I create valuable insightful content to potential and current customers about my business/services/products/industry that can delivered in blog format?
B. News and Content
- Once I’ve created compelling content, how can I distribute it to the world?
An easy way to distribute your ideas is through social news sites where the content speaks for itself. Users are given the opportunity to vote on news stories, links, and content:
C. Review sites
Am I so confident in my products and services that I want to promote them to sites that publish independently written user reviews?
D. Networking sites
The great social communities of the web present remarkable opportunities to market, promote and even create direct sales for your company.
E. Do you fully understand the “social” aspects of social marketing?
- There is a reason they call it social media marketing. When you enter this world, you are entering a very real community. Unlike advertising, which is a one-way-street method (push marketing) of delivering your message, social media demands that you enter into a conversation with your current and potential clients and customers (push and pull marketing).
- Your success in social media will depend on your ability to make valuable engaging contributions, beyond simply promoting your brand, to a community which may be challenging, questioning or even hostile towards your brand.
Do you have the time, resources and confidence to enter into such a conversation?
E. Time and personnel commitment
- The company must commit to training an individual or team who will have personal responsibility for maintaining social media channels. It can’t be considered an add-on. Take the time devoted to social media as seriously as the time devoted to any other kind of project. In other words, do it well or don’t do it at all.
- Are your social media effort integrated and designed to support each channel’s efforts? What will you use to drive people to your Twitter account? Your Blog? Your Facebook fan page?
G. Budgeting for the long haul
- Social media campaign results rarely happen overnight. Have you thought about your budget going forward? Will this work be handled in-house or will you outsource this to a company with social media experience and expertise?
- How will you measure the success of your overall social media campaign and the individual elements? What are the key milestones you are looking for?
- Marketing budgets are finite. The money invested in social media campaigns must come from somewhere. Where are the sacrifices to be made?
Unless you are a social media expert, you will not immediately have the answers to all of these questions. You need to find to find experts who will discuss your current business, your business goals, and your current marketing and advertising efforts. Until a company understands all of these aspects of your business, they will be in no position to map out a social media marketing campaign that’s exactly right for you and your business.