Social Media Marketing
I suppose a good starting point would be to define what social media marketing actually is. SMM is a way for companies and entrepreneurs to reach out to their customers or potential clients using the internet and a variety of social media platforms. The most popular being Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, Linkedin, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram to name just a few.
Social Media Marketing can be used for all the normal aims of marketing a product or service. This may be developing sales leads, widening the customer base, a means of publicity, increasing sales and providing clients with a means of feedback. The idea is the more people are exposed to something, the more visibility it receives, the more likely people are to purchase or use the service.
However, anyone considering using SMM needs to realize that it is not all for everyone. It is, therefore, imperative to define and determine which type of social media is most likely to be responsive to your product or service. Then use only those where you are most likely to achieve your marketing aims. Let’s have a look at the most popular avenues:-
Facebook is the most well-known form of social media, with now some 2 billion active members.
It allows users to create a profile and share status updates, photos, videos, and exchange messages. Creating a Facebook Business Page is an easy low-cost way to promote your business. It enables you to keep your customers informed about your products and services. It is an ideal medium for either a large multi national company to maintain its brand name or a small local business looking to attract customers to a shop or service in the immediate area.
Twitter allows users to send short messages (called “tweets“) to “followers”. Tweeting has also been referred to as “micro blogging” since tweets are limited to 140 characters in length. It is a little more difficult than Facebook as you need to grow a list of “followers” and for wider distribution encourage them to re-tweet to their followers.
Some businesses now use Twitter as a marketing vehicle by keeping followers up to date with product offerings via regular tweets. It is also frequently used by businesses to respond to customer support queries.
Most people believe Google+ was Google’s answer to Facebook. An attempt to attract people away from Facebook, however, it never took off. Google+ tends to have been accepted by a more serious and professional membership who use it to promote business and more in depth topics than are found on Facebook.
Linkedin is a networking service for business professionals. Users can create profiles and form professional relationships by “connecting” with other users. Businesses can use LinkedIn as a low-cost marketing tool by creating a business page and posting product/service announcements or other company news. It is also valuable as a means of seeking employment, advertising jobs and offering work to freelancers.
Employees are encouraged to post their own profiles and link back to the business they work for, thereby exposing company talent to prospective customers.
Pinterest began life as a place where people could share photos of things that interested them or they liked and they could create different boards related to individual topics. The site recognized a good way to monetize this was to offer businesses the opportunity to open business boards and promote their products by displaying images onto their boards. These could then be shared by other members by posting them on their own boards for their followers to see.
You can also interlink Pinterest with Facebook so that pins are also displayed on your Facebook Page as well but there are mixed feelings as to whether this is, or is not a good idea.
YouTube is often quoted as being the second largest search engine and is highly rated as a source of publicity. If your product or service can be turned into a video then YouTube can be a valuable means of free publicity. Even if your product is not one that can be easily promoted directly by video you can consider demonstrations, instructional videos, recorded webinars, and “how to” style video productions. Using keywords and tags your product can then be found on YouTube.
Instagram is now owned by Facebook and is a means of sharing photos or videos via a mobile App which can be linked to your Facebook business page. As with Facebook, sharing on this App is free, but as a business looking to obtain a sufficient level of exposure you need to consider paying for your pictures or videos to be promoted. All the possibilities are far too involved to be covered here but if you want to explore this option a detailed article can be found at here.
Snapchat is currently the fastest growing social network with more than 100 million daily active users. It is unique in that once a follower views your Snap it disappears after 1 to 10 seconds. It will only be seen by your followers so like many other Social Media platforms you need to build a base of followers. The challenge in building an audience on Snapchat is that the platform has no hashtags, ( hashtags are another topic altogether), search, or any other means of traditional content discovery. You can only create a following by letting people know you’re on Snapchat and giving them a compelling reason to follow you.
As with Instagram, the basics of how to promote a business on Snapchat are far too involved to be covered in detail here. If you want to know more a good place to look is Here
So Why Use Social Media
For one thing much can be done for “free”, in terms of using some of the features available to businesses with having to pay. Even the paid options are not expensive when compared with other forms of advertising. However, there is a cost in time, otherwise known as “opportunity cost” or the cost of paying staff or an agency to handle your Social Media Marketing.
One other advantage is that done properly it does offer a business the opportunity to develop an interactive relationship with customers or clients.
On the negative side, businesses need to appreciate that social media marketing is not a direct sales medium. It is marketing in a more subtle form. One where relationships can develop and where the business is prepared to interact with other members.
One other potential downside is the ability of the reputation of a business to be damaged by an unhappy customer, a disgruntled employee or even a competitor. There are many stories on the web of publicity disasters occasioned by an unfortunate “tweet” or a social media post taken out of context.
At the end of the day, social network marketing is something that some small businesses could benefit from. The most important criteria is to find out what platforms your customers are most likely to use. If nothing else it can be a way to find out more about what your customers are thinking – and saying – about your products.
If you feel Social Media Marketing is right for your business and you need a helping hand to move forward I am here to help. Just complete the inquiry form below and I will be in touch.