Social media marketing is the next hot topic at every SEO related conference lately. Those of you that have been involved in marketing for a while might call it Viral Marketing with a twist.
Social media is the art and science of communicating with your customers on the grass roots level: being interwoven with their work and private lives in addition to the traditional relationship of client/vendor that is achieved through traditional advertising and marketing.
So what are the benefits of social media?
It really all boils down to top of mind awareness. Numerous studies have shown that the human mind can typically only spontaneously recall 4 things at a time on any give subject. Referred to as Working Memory, this ability to recall only 4 brands at any one time is crucial for referrals and word of mouth business growth. All brands strive to maintain one of these 4 spots in the clients mind. That’s where social media comes in to level the playing field for small businesses.
Play with the big boys
Being top of mind against huge brands and huge budgets is tough for small to medium sized businesses. But luckily, you don’t need much to compete with social trends. A keen imagination and small marketing budget is enough to get you going.
Put your best Facebook forward
Setting up a Facebook page for your business is free. If you understand your customers and their interests, you’re only limited by your imagination. Come up with the right idea and connect with your audience and there is little that even a huge brand can do to compete.
Some ideas could include:
• News and gossip
• Top 10 lists
• Humorous photos or illustrations
• Short videos
• Tips and information
• How-To articles and videos
Don’t expect to succeed off the start
Yes it is okay to fail. Even the experts don’t bat a thousand. The most important thing for your social media marketing campaign is to keep trying. Learn from your failures and your successes alike. Test, test, and then test again. The only way to truly find out what resonates is to keep posting and keep inventing new ideas. See what others are doing. Copy some aspects and then reinvent to succeed. Stamina is a huge part of any business strategy and you should plan to be in the game for the long haul. Don’t give up and don’t worry about falling down. Eventually you will discover the right formula for your niche and your business will be better off for it. Firsthand experience is the kind of invaluable knowledge that you can’t buy.
Know when to call in the big guns
Even the best viral marketing idea may not see the light of day if it’s not promoted properly. And I’m not talking about SEO. Some sites often need an article promoted by someone who is already established within the community. Think of it like a kick start for your campaign. If you feel that your ideas are sound but you just can’t get traction, consider hiring a social media marketing company to help troubleshoot your campaign and give it that initial boost that it needs. Once you go viral, it can be a lot easier to push further content to your audience by leveraging the following you build up. As long as your ideas stay fresh and you remember that your customers are your audience of course. Stay on message and give people a reason to pass your links around and you will reap the benefits of fanatical customer loyalty.
Leave the conversion rates to the bean counters
Social media marketing is not about conversions. The bulk of your web traffic will not spend a single dime on the day you run your campaign. Focusing on conversion rates misses the point of top of mind awareness and brand building. Your goal is to stay ahead of your competition and be there when your prospect needs to think up a brand to recommend or make a purchase from. As web marketers, it’s easy to become slaves to analytics and conversion rates while scoffing at brand development and social marketing. Don’t make that mistake. Brands like Nike, Apple and IBM cannot charge a premium because of their conversion rates. They charge a premium because of the emotive qualities of their brand and the ability to stay top of mind in their industry. Plan for a 12 month sustained effort and then evaluate your overall sales as a measure of success. Social media is not about the short run or quick success. It’s all about building a foundation for long-term growth.
Focus on your ability to entertain and communicate with your audience on personal level and your business will enjoy the long term benefits of brand development and dialogue through social media marketing.