In this guide, we cover what your business needs to know about effective marketing via social media platforms.
How you can build relationships with potential customers, have direct communication, and ultimately increase inquiries and sales.
1. Direct Communication
Social Media is simply a form of communication between people.
Many forget this, so those on the receiving end of their posts become uninterested and ‘unfriend them’.
If your business has something to say and you get it right, social media can drive many new customers.
2. Build Relationships
Social media gives you the opportunity to build relationships with new people little by little.
Let us say you own a plumbing company, and you start giving out practical plumbing tips on Facebook and Twitter. This is something people may like and share.
Over time new people will come to know and trust you.
3. Increase Enquiries and Sales
Once you have built trust you have laid the foundation for new customers.
Social Media can then be a great and ‘free’ way to promote your products and offers.
Most businesses do this promotion much too soon and never enjoy success.
There are many advantages to social media for some businesses:
1. Cut out the middleman
Social media enables you to speak directly with your existing and future customers.
2. Be with your customers
Be with your market online linked together on social media and their favorite websites.
3. Your customer’s friend
Engage people with what they are looking for to become your customer's friend.
4. Links with people
The more you give people what they want, the more links and potential customers you will create.
5. Enquiries and web traffic
Once you have created your following, people will welcome some carefully selected promotions.
6. Search engine links
Shares on social media sites can encourage links that can help your website’s Google rankings.
Today many use social media and waste a lot of time, so many businesses miss the opportunity it presents!
There really are two sides to social media:
(1) where people hang out socially
(2) where businesses take advantage of this and engage with the community
Social media has become part of everyday life, but few businesses know how to use it to their advantage. Most jump in without a plan, shout “buy my stuff”, and fail before they have even really; started.
It is not through a newspaper advert where you have one chance to get noticed. Social media is a conversation where you must join in, make friends, and earn trust.
Unlike your newspaper advert, social media is free!
Would you like to be able to communicate directly with new potential customers online via social media?
Like him or loathe him, Donald Trump has shown how social media can be used to communicate direct messages.
Via his Twitter account, he gets his message out when and how he wants without any ‘filtering’ by the media.
Your business has the same opportunity to develop its own voice and communicate your own message directly to your market.
Could ‘hanging out’ with your market online via social media help your business, build trust and relationships in your market?
Many markets customers actively use social media.
Let us say you are a travel agency, there are endless ways you can engage people with things such as:
You can now ‘socialise’ online with your potential customers.
Could being a trusted ‘friend’ on social media with your potential, and existing customers be of value and offer new opportunities?
So now you are 'socialising online' with your potential customers, you now need to get them to notice and like you.
Imagine you were at a party at this party, and someone was trying to sell you double glazing, you are not going to like it!
If, however, you were chatting and getting on well. It came up in conversation that they sold double glazing (which you were in the market for) it’s more likely you would call them.
For business, social media is like any other marketing channel, a medium that must deliver a return on investment.
Careful consideration should be given to whether it is right for your business. You need to identify if your customers can be reached on social media platforms.
Examples of companies that use social media effectively:
There are lots of football supporters in Facebook Groups, plus many of the top players use Twitter. These are both excellent platforms for the club to use in their marketing activities.
This is business-specific software used for tracking sales prospects. You will see lots of Salesforce activity on LinkedIn, where many businesses and their employees’ network.
There are however many businesses who do not really use social media, for example:
Could your business benefit from more direct links with people and companies in your market?
If someone likes you on social media, should remember this is not a statistic but a real link with a real person.
Now they are your ‘friend’, you cannot then betray their trust and start selling.
They will only continue to ‘be your friend’ if you keep giving them what they want; which is typically a company that cares.
Could you benefit from new enquiries and customers that social media made possible?
Let’s say you are a potential customer and have been following on Facebook a firm of builders for the last 6 months.
They have been posting great stuff about DIY tips and funny stories about their day-to-day challenges.
You now want to get an extension built on your house, why would you not call this firm for a quote?
Social media really can drive new enquiries and leads for the right businesses.
Could your website benefit from top search engine rankings and traffic resulting from new Social Media links?
The natural result of people liking you on social media is also more links to your website.
This in turn will help improve your search rankings in Google and Bing.
Which will also help increase your enquiries and web traffic!
How you best use social media depends on your business model, market, customers, marketing activities, and more.
Many use it for PR and brand building, also as a platform to build relationships with current and potential customers. Relationships help to build confidence which should make selling easier.
Social media can also be used as a highly effective paid advertising platform to achieve faster results.
Just like all other forms of marketing, social media is not effective for all markets.
Say you are a nuclear industry supplier; we doubt that Facebook posts on nuclear technology would be effective!
However, you may be able to make good contacts on LinkedIn. If you are a travel agent, Facebook posts on fantastic holidays may grab people’s attention.
The answer to this very much depends on your marketing budget and what you are trying to achieve, how much time you have to undertake some of your own marketing, your business model, what will work best, and more.
There is not a simple answer to this question without knowing more about your business.
You need to get into the 'head' of your potential customers and find out what they are interested in.
Let us say you are a builder specialising in house extensions and refurbishments. I doubt many of their customers would be interested in foundations, lintels, or the best mortar to use. People are generally interested in things that benefit them. Some possible Facebook posts for a builder:
This could give our builder a human face and show someone who cares. This will go a long way to getting the trust of potential customers.
Once you have built your following, so long as it is clear what you do and people know how to get hold of you, the enquiries will follow.
You should approach direct selling on social media with extreme caution. Just think about the social media mindset – people may have been reading about their sister’s kids or a 'surfing cat'.
This is quite different from the Google mindset where they may have typed "builder in London".
That is not to say that you do not send out promotions, but they should be the exceptions and not the norm.
If you want a quick paid advertising solution, you will use their pay-per-click advertising platforms.
The simple answer is that you use the platforms that your potential customers do.
For example, if you are a football club, and all your supporters use Twitter, then you should use Twitter. If you are a make-up manufacturer, and your customers use Facebook, then Facebook. Or maybe you are a recruitment agency, so LinkedIn is a good platform.
Social media adverts however provide an excellent alternative to the search engines and in many cases, are significantly cheaper.
Facebook’s advertising revenue has grown from $1.9B in 2010 to $27B in 2016 , this is simply because Facebook is an extremely effective place for businesses both large and small to place adverts.
Google AdWords has for many years been the leader in online advertising, though advertising costs in recent years have become too high for many types of business.
In a search engine people are often searching for specific things, like “large mens orange jumpers”, so if you craft an advert specifically targeting this search query, this could be highly effective.
On social media, however, people are in a different mode, it’s like they are sitting in a café. Facebook for example knows a great deal about that person, from their age, gender, location, things they like, things their friends like, etc.
This, therefore, means that targeted ads can be placed in that person’s news feed. So, if that person is an avid cyclist, they may get adverts from local bike shops, or cycle clubs. Or if that person is a new mum, she may get ads from a local nursery, or local kids play centre.
Social media ads can provide a fast solution to attracting new customers, at prices that can often be much lower than Google AdWords.