Archive | February, 2017

Stop selling: The hard truth of social media marketing

27 Feb

Every organization needs a social presence, right? Yet, because a significant number of SME owners struggle to glean quantifiable results — or sales — from their social media efforts, it must be asked if it is really worth the effort for them.

While many spend significant time and money to have staff or outside agencies maintain their social media accounts hoping to lure new clients, they’re missing the fact that selling on social media channels doesn’t work. Only about 10 per cent of the clients of my digital-marketing firm actually manage to convert leads into sales through social media.

The exception is large brands that have huge media followings (Apple, Coke), companies that started, target and thrive on social media (Luxyhair.com is another of many examples), and specialized service providers such as consultants or event organizers. In the latter case, they might use social media channels to promote a speaking engagement or a new book.

Unless your business falls into one of those categories, stop trying to sell. Yes, SMEs need to maintain a social media presence because that is now the go-to communication platform for clients across age demographics. But social media as a tool for building brand recognition is only one tool. Use it that way but broaden your wider marketing strategy to include such other tactics as advertising, public relations, content marketing, speaking engagements and other initiatives that can help boost your bottom line.

Remember that it’s also highly transactional, in the sense that no organization owns the followers they maintain on their preferred social media channels — they rent them. Whether paying for Facebook ads to promote your business or sharing links to articles, you’re paying people in some way to engage with your brand. Those rented followers will come and go, and they’ll only go faster if you try to work a hard sales pitch.

Why? We know there are four stages of a customer life cycle:

  • Contact — A potential customer is introduced to your brand
  • Consider — They consider your brand’s offerings compared with your competitors’
  • Convert — The prospect purchases and becomes a customer
  • Care — You nurture engagements with those wonderful people who purchase products or services from your organization (or donate funds, in the case of a charity or non-profit) two times or more

Social media is best utilized during the contact and care stages, but SME owners and their CFOs still want to use social to convert a follower to a sale. That’s like painting with a hammer. You can do it — sort of  — but it obviously makes far more sense to use a brush. This is particularly true when attempting to engage cynical Generation X clients or advertising-weary Millennials and Generation Zs.

They don’t want to be sold to. They want to hear your story. They want to know whether you share the same values and have a solution to a challenge they may be experiencing. They want to know how you can improve their lives in some way.

No matter their age, virtually anyone who engages with your brand on social media wants to get to know you. So, don’t expect them to buy — expect to build a relationship over time.

For existing customers, surprise and delight them with exclusive access to your products, promotions or information they may find relevant.

If you’re an actuary, for example, tell stories of how quitting smoking will lengthen your life expectancy. Explain how your job is crucial in deciding pension benefits. Talk about trends in the industry and how they might impact your target audience. But never try to sell.

In addition, if your organization gives back to the community or supports initiatives that align with your brand objectives, tell your followers about all the wonderful things you’re doing for others.

Just don’t expect them to buy. That will only happen when you establish a level of trust with them. Sometimes that happens right away. Or it can take months, even years.

The hard sell has (thankfully) fallen on hard times. This is the hard truth of marketing in the social media era.

 

3 Strategies to Nail Before You Launch Your Social-Media Campaign

20 Feb

When I talk to small-business owners, they often tell me they’re “doing” social-media marketing. I’m always glad to hear this, but the way they describe their process reveals they’re unfocused in their efforts. They haven’t truly defined a social-media marketing campaign for their brand and company.

Imagine a general sending his troops onto the battlefield willy-nilly, just striking out at whatever is close at hand. Generals who are serious about the stakes wage campaigns with clearly defined goals.

Take aim.

Without a goal, how can you ever know if you’ve hit your target?

Common social-media campaign goals include attracting more followers, creating interest in a specific product or service, heightening brand awareness and increasing the amount of shared content. So long as your goals aren’t mutually exclusive, you can wage more than one effort at a time. For example, you can build your following while you drive traffic to a specific page on your company’s website.

Whatever your identified milestones, you’ll need to answer some important questions:

  • Which social-media platforms will I use?
  • Which kinds of content should I create?
  • How will I track and assess results?

Plan the schedule.

Once you’ve thought strategically about what you wish to accomplish with your social-media marketing, sit down with a calendar and plan the year. It might make sense for you to launch some campaigns that center on holidays or seasons.

To illustrate the process, let’s consider the Great American Total Solar Eclipse, set to occur on Aug. 21, 2017. If you’re connecting this natural phenomenon with your marketing theme, think about how much lead time you’ll need to build in to the campaign. Don’t wait until the last minute and then try to generate some creative posts and graphics. Farm out the work well ahead of time.

If you don’t, you’ll find yourself left out in the dark — at least regarding social-media posts.

Measure outcomes.

If your goal is garnering interest in a specific product or service, you might measure the amount of traffic you drive to your webpage. If you believe you have enough followers but they aren’t sharing your posts as much as you’d like, you could use various analytics tools to rank your shared posts and see which content types performs best. Or you could build your 2017 campaign around a theme you capture in a hashtag or celebrate with a contest to fuel its launch.

How to identify your target demographic and create the ideal social media marketing strategy

13 Feb

The marketing strategy you employ on social media sites depends on a lot of factors – the most important of which is undoubtedly your target demographic. For example, the social media strategy used by a sports company like Adidas, which caters mostly to the younger crowd, will be vastly different from that of a premium hotel chain like Hyatt, which has older working professionals as its customer base.

Identifying a target demographic, then, is crucial for every brand before they begin formulating a marketing strategy for social media. If you’re just starting out on social media, here are the first few things you need to do in order to formulate an effective marketing strategy:

Identify your audience

Like I said earlier, no amount of advertising and marketing is going to pay off unless it’s aimed at a specific audience. Identifying potential customers is the first step for any brand about to begin its marketing journey. The problem is that there are so many people with intersecting interests that it gets difficult to narrow them down to those who might be interested in your brand and those who won’t.

You can start zeroing in on your potential customer base by asking questions like ‘What problems does my business solve?’ and ‘Who will benefit from it?’ These two questions alone will eliminate a large chunk of social media users from your target audience. Based on the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to identify your prospective customers based on various parameters such as income, geographical location, and hobbies. By researching your competitor’s customer base as well as your current customers, that list can be made even more specific until you finally have a target audience that can be catered to on social media.

After identifying your target demographic, you need to create a social media strategy specifically tailored for your prospective customers. This takes a few more steps, which are detailed below.

Identify your goals

It’s important to establish both short-term and long-term goals before you begin marketing on social media. The strategy you employ will vary depending on whether you need to build awareness or increase sales. Creating a clear plan also helps you figure out if your strategy is working, which allows you to modify it as and when required.

Selecting the right social media site

If your business caters to working professionals, it makes more sense to market on LinkedIn than on, say, Snapchat. The age group your target demographic falls in also plays a crucial role in selecting the right social media site. A recent Olapic survey found that 90 percent of adults over 50 years of age prefer Facebook over other social media sites while Instagram is the most popular among younger users.

Posting the right content

Once you’ve selected the social media site(s) where your potential customers spend most time, you need to identify which type of content most resonates with your audience. Visual content (images and videos), for example, draws more engagement than text-based content while user-generated content (produced by actual product users on their own social accounts) has a greater positive impact on brand credibility than sharing content generated by brands themselves. There, too, distinctions can be made depending on the target audience – research shows that younger internet users prefer real people to be featured in images while older users prefer the product or service to be in focus.

Digital marketing on social media is only effective if the right strategy is employed in a proper manner. And while the above mentioned steps are the best way to get started, don’t hesitate to experiment and tweak your social media strategy based on what is, and what isn’t, working for you.

4 social media marketing trends that will dominate 2017

6 Feb

Social media, probably the fastest growing industry of the recent times, is ever-changing in its form and nature. There was no dearth of changes when it came to social media trends in 2016; from consumer preferences to brand opportunities and live videos, we have seen it all. Social media is all about user interface and what all the social media giants strive for is to perfect the user experience.

Although it is hard to predict the kind of trends that will dominate the year 2017, but looking at past occurrences, it is safe to say that some of them are apparent and inevitable. Here are four social media trends that will make their rounds in the year 2017.

Customer service chatbots

The new brands entering the market all turn to chatbots when it comes to customer care and customer service resources. In order to provide fast and immediate responses, social media giants like Facebook or communication platforms like Slack or Allo all use chatbots. These bots facilitate the communication process and reduces response time by a great deal. This makes the increased use of chatbots the most interesting social media trends for the year 2017.

Continued use of paid content

Anyone who uses YouTube consistently knows how notorious they can get with their algorithms. The whole point is to satisfy and entertain the user with content that they might enjoy reading. Instagram introduced their algorithm in 2016 and ever since that, every major social media networking site has been paying importance to some sort of content preferential treatment. With the increasing need engaging and quality rich content, it does really matter if it’s paid or organic.

Live Video platforms

In 2016, social media giant Facebook dropped a bomb that goes by the name Facebook Live, and the way people consume videos has been growing ever since. Everyone likes a good sneak peek, after all that is how we have always received everything from gossips, to our favorite TV shows and movies. These little tidbits create the perfect amount of uproar among the hungry masses who are just clamoring for good content. Increasing number of companies are using the live video feature to promote their products and seep through the minds of people.

Social messaging

WhatsApp, in February 2016, announced the fact that it has reached its one billion mark and it has proven the fact that people over the year are turning to private social messaging. Companies are cashing in on this growing trend of social messaging, so much so that the year 2017 will see the drastic shift from social network to social messaging apps. This can be a great ecommerce options for companies as well.

The world is changing, and so is a pertinent part of it – social media. Every day the brands along with the platforms are changing their style, bringing out innovative ways of making social media more efficient and effective. It must be working really well because we do not seem to get enough of it.