Social media is no longer a secret marketing tool. It’s just become part of the daily routine. Log into all of your social media accounts, and you’ll see ads cleverly placed in your Facebook newsfeed, brands tweeting offbeat images, and companies on LinkedIn sharing lists on how to land your next job. However, it’s still a new territory.
According to the 2013 Social Media Marketing Report, despite 86% of marketers realizing that social media is important for business, 88% of them are still searching for effective tactics and ways to engage with customers. While there are probably thousands of techniques out there, here’s a rundown on how you could put social media to work for your brand.
This is the meat and potatoes of social media: reaching out to an audience. Whether that’s to announce that your business is open, publicize a new product/service or a promotion coming up, or trying to increase your followers on social media, this is where it all begins. But, since this is such a broad topic, where do you begin?
If you’re an established brand, you already have loyal customers or advocates. So, they could help announce to their friends about your new social media page or whatever announcements you want people to be aware of. And, they would be probably do so if you just asked. However, not all brands have a built-in fanbase. If that’s you, here are some tips on how to reach your audience.
If you’re in retail, you want customers. If you do things right, meaning the product/service fulfills a need or customer service goes above and beyond, you’ll have repeat customers. But, with social media you can increase the amount of brand advocates. One person doing this well is Colorado Cattle Company, who engages with like-minded people on Twitter to gain more traction and form lifetime relationships. They use these relationships to connect with customers. These aren’t just lifelong customers—these are the individuals who will notify their friends and family about your brand on what? Social media. And, brand advocates have a tendency to spend more than other customers. In short, brand advocates are important.
But how do you get these coveted individuals? Besides making a great product, offer these customers exclusive promotions or deals to thank them for their support. Think about any of the refer-a-friend opportunities you’ve seen from Las Vegas, cell phone providers, or satellite/cable companies. These businesses gave current customers a chance to get their friends or family to make a purchase, and in return, those customers received a discount or chance to win a prize.
Since you’ve already found the tone and voice of your brand, it’s time to let the world know who you are and what you are offering. You could present a problem and illustrate how your product or service is going to resolve the issue for your audience. For example, you could post an image to Instagram of a quick dinner meal that was made by using your brand of cheese. Again, you want to give followers a better idea of what you’re offering and how it will improve their lives, which in turn, will help your reputation. This may be important for the service industry or an organization that just can’t rely on images or lighthearted content.
Speaking of reputation, that’s a major achievement you should be aiming for. Take Zappos, for example. You can buy a pair of sneakers anywhere, but you’re going to continue to shop at Zappos because they have an outstanding customer service program. This means that people aren’t going to Zappos because there’s where the best deals are—they are going back to the site because they had a great experience. Zappos knows this, and is consistent in maintaining that reputation. And, they’re not ashamed in letting everyone else know how much customers enjoy shopping at their site.
Trust is a big deal when it comes to customers. This isn’t breaking news, either. When people trust your brand, they’re going to be more inclined to buy something from you. Research has shown numerous times that consumers trust product and brand recommendations more from other people than from traditional advertising. How does social media help with this? A lot, actually.
More and more people are turning to their social networks when looking for recommendations. When it comes to the most trusted social media outlets, Facebook is the top dog, with 68% of users preferring it as the most trusted online platform. That’s impressive. While not as reliable, 56% trust Pinterest and both Twitter and Google Plus are trusted by 41% of users.
Instead of denying this knowledge, embrace it. In fact, go above and beyond by welcoming reviews and ratings. This not only gives your customers a voice, it also lets their networks know how well they enjoyed dealing with your brand.
Of course, you joined Twitter, Facebook, etc. to boost your sales. But, how exactly do you do that?
The reason that you’re on social media is to inform an audience about your brand, products, or services. Since it’s been found that 50% of leads are qualified, but not yet ready to buy, you need to give them everything they need to know on social media so that they can make that all-important purchase or decision to employ your services. Furthermore, you can learn what potential customers really want or need, as we already mentioned. By identifying customer’s preferences, you can create a more effective product list or campaign. This will all help increase your sales.
Another reason that social media can work for your brand is that it brings traffic to your website. The idea is to use social media to grab the attention of followers and to then have them head over to your website. You can do this by creating content that is relevant and useful to your audience and sharing it on social media, which is shared by your followers, and so on. Overall, this is a great way to convert leads into potential customers.
As for search ranking, Google is a big fan of social media. For example, live tweets can now appear in search results. In other words, you can now easily combine your SEO efforts into your social media strategy to eventually get people to your website. Doesn’t that make life easy?
Gone are days of dishing out an excessive amount of money for ads in traditional mediums, like in newspapers. Today, you can sign up for a free social media account and promote your business with less money and commitment. Best of all? Social media can outlets can help increase your return on investment (ROI.)
How do you increase your ROI? That depends on your audience and core set of values, but it’s a safe bet that engaging content is a great launching point. By now, you should have at least heard of content marketing. That’s where you create and share content that your audience enjoys or finds helpful, but it’s not really selling a product. Once you know your audience, this becomes a bit easier. One company that does a solid job on this is SuperHeroStuff.com. The content is split 50/50 on its Facebook page. This means the brand will post eight times a day, with four posts being about what new products are on sale, with the other four posts being something that is more engaging for its audience, like ‘Fight Club Friday.’
In case you didn’t know, you can actually learn something when you listen to other people. And that’s the case with social media as well. When you listen to what people are saying about your brand on social media, you know what strategies are or are not working, or what people think about a certain product or service. This gives you the chance to rectify any concerns or thank people when they compliment your brand. This interaction allows you to engage customers as well. And, in case you forgot, that is what social media is about. A conversation.
Furthermore, you can also ask customers for advice, or even ask them to create content for your social media accounts. This continues to establish trust, since people are more likely to respond to testimonials, in addition giving the consumer the chance to be a part of the brand’s marketing team, so to speak.