Having regrets is a part of life. There are lots of things that we can all think of that we wish we did sooner than later. One such regret for me is all about social media marketing. Like a lot of other Internet marketers who’ve been in the industry since the Internet Pleistocene, I was skeptical when MySpace, Facebook and Twitter started getting hot. Back then, it was easy to dismiss social media as some online timesink for bored teens who didn’t have much to do. Man, did I ever get that one wrong.
Just a few years after these sites went live, they’ve become some of the most visited sites on the Web. As we all know, wherever traffic piles up, opportunities to market are sure to follow. That’s when I realized that I should have been more open to the idea of marketing my brand on social networking sites before literally everyone and their moms beat me to the punch.
These days, I’m proud to say that I have no more ignorance about the power of social marketing. Still, I see a lot of online businesses out there trying to carve a name for themselves in their respective niches without really trying to make their brand social. While it was possible to succeed in the past with just SEO, PPC and email marketing, ignoring social media these days is like trying to run a marathon wearing a spacesuit – things can be a lot easier if you were doing things right.
If you’re still on the fence about investing your time, efforts and resources on establishing a viable social media marketing presence, this post is for you. I’ve listed down some of the most notorious beliefs that are limiting your online business success and why you should stop subscribing to them. Here we go:
1. My line of business isn’t appropriate for social media – It happens especially when you come from a traditional marketing background: you have the impression that Facebook and Twitter are very candid environments where younger people flock to have fun and socialize. You then second-guess how appropriate your seemingly “serious” products are and you end up deciding that social networks aren’t really the best places to sell your wares. A lot of people tend to have this mindset and as a result, they sell themselves short of the benefits that social marketing can bring.
Cuzin, let me tell you something: no matter how cool or boring a product or a brand is, they all have one thing in common: they’re all born of human ingenuity, creativity and hard work. Each product made and each company built are triumphs in their own respective ways and that means each one has a story to tell.
Telling stories, of course, is a very human thing to do. At the end of the day, social networks are all about exactly that: being human in the Interwebs. Remember the stories that your brand can tell and let people know about them in your social media channels. Even if you’re selling garbage cans or paper towels, I’m sure there’s a cool story or two that people will gravitate to. This helps you increase brand awareness, engagement and loyalty – intangible factors that helped build the world’s most successful enterprises both online and offline.
2. My target audience isn’t on social media – This is a belief that I hear a lot about from business-to-business (B2B) marketers. Their conviction seems to hang on the premise that they’re selling stuff to businesses and not to actual customers; corporations don’t log on to Facebook and Twitter, so in their minds, it’s probably not worth their time.
Not really. I get the fact that when you’re in the B2B marketplace, you’re selling your products to companies like yours, but keep in mind that buying decisions are still made by PEOPLE and most people who use the Internet these days have AT LEAST one active social media profile that can be exposed to your efforts. Ultimately, even if you’re selling to businesses, a good social media presence allows you to reach out to people that guide companies which buy your goods.
3. I’d rather focus on other marketing media – It’s a standard practice for companies to pour in thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on their online marketing campaigns. The standard spending list usually has a large allocation of cash and manpower for SEO, PPC and banner advertising. Social media marketing often ranks as one of the least-prioritized areas when it comes to the distribution of resources because business decision-makers feel that the more visible and measurable traction comes from other promotional avenues.
Thing is, why do you think mega corporations such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Corning and a host of others are building entire DEPARTMENTS of social media specialists who are working day in and day out to execute their social marketing strategies? It’s pretty plain to see: they’ve seen what social media can do, what kind of potential it still has and how it can help them in the long run to stay dominant in their respective industries. Social media not only creates positive awareness and a place where you can interact with your prospects: it also serves as a big time synergy for your other media campaigns.
Take for instance the case of SEO: Google and other search engines are well aware that social media is a prime mover and shaker of what goes around on the web. They also view social media as a prime signal of what’s popular and what’s not. In this light, search engines have openly admitted that social signals are now part of how they calculate their keyword rankings and what appears in their search results. In short, doing a good job in social media gives your SEO campaign a huge boost.
Banner ads and PPC ads also benefit from the awareness and familiarity that good social media campaigns bring to the table. Being familiar to a brand or product makes your target customers less hesitant to click on ads that point to your landing pages. This improves your click-through rates and increases both traffic and conversions. Remember, it takes at least seven exposures to an advertising message before the average consumer really starts to make a decision on whether to buy from you or not. Adding social media to that mix of exposures helps you convert better in the bigger picture.
4. I just need to post, like and comment, right? – Uh, not really. Simply putting up a page and randomly posting stuff isn’t what I’d call a social marketing strategy. For starters, you need to understand that your social media profiles are extensions of your official website outside of its domain. Therefore, you should treat it with as much commitment and responsibility as you would your own webpages. Make your design close to your official sites’, upload your logo, post a link to your home page in the contact information and display other details that will let your crowd know that you’re running a legit business.
More importantly, make your profiles a hub that will keep your audience’s interest levels high. Share photos, videos, announcements and even useful tips and messages that your prospects can draw value from. You may want to keep things professional in your social media pages, but be friendly and approachable, too. You’ll want your audience to be able to voice out their thoughts about you and your brand so you can engage them and help them out if they need anything. These may look like simple things, but they go a long way in galvanizing a dynamic relationship between you and your desired customers.
5. Social media traffic is low-quality traffic – Some marketers like to believe that social media click-through traffic is low-quality, unmotivated and hard-to-convert. They feel that Facebook is not a place where people buy, but a place where people come in to get social and interact with their friends. While I think that this argument is a legitimate one, I’m a big fan of testing things before I declare them as gospel truth. In the case of social media traffic, I was SHOCKED with what I saw from my traffic analysis reports.
It showed that the clicks I got from Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites were among the purest, highest-quality visits that my blog has benn receiving. In fact, of the thousands of visits that I get from social media each month, none of them have bounced off my pages. If you’re not familiar with the jargon, a bounce happens when a visitor enters your website, lands on a page, then exits without checking your other pages. Google Analytics showed me that my social media visit portfolio had a bounce rate of 0%, meaning everyone who was driven to my site by social media clicked on a link and went on to read other content. As you probably know, a low bounce rate is a hallmark of a good degree of user engagement and having engageged visitors means you’ll have an easier time getting them to heed your calls to action when it’s time to get some conversions going.
Essentially, what this proves is that social media is an excellent place to distribute your content. People who click on the links that you share often carry a good amount of interest in them because they’re familiar with who you are and they have a nice degree of trust for your brand. More than anything else, these qualities matter the most when leveraged for commercial purposes.
Ho-kay, cuzins, these five beliefs are the biggest offenders when it comes to misleading marketers from the goldmine that is social marketing. If you’re hanging on to any of them, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Social media is here to stay and it can be your best platform for making your mark in your niche of choice.
Andy “Better-late-than-never” Jenkins