According to some industry reports from Hubspot, 80% of marketers and 60% of sales professionals have found qualified leads via social media sites. But just because you post on social media sites, that doesn’t mean you’ll experience success.
Many businesses have experienced success using social media marketing, and many have not. Just like every other marketing tactic, there are best practices and recommended ways to go about using social media for business purposes. Social media is about developing relationships and having two-way conversations. If you’re posts to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn don’t take that into account, you’re probably not going to experience success.
Social media marketing success is like writing a report. You have to start with your research. Then you write. Then you gather feedback and review the comments.
Social Monitoring is the Research Phase
Social monitoring is the first step in the process and it is your research stage. This is where you research the various social media tools and approaches to see the best fit for your company. You look at the tools, what demographics the tools cater to, how to build traffic out of posts, length and frequency, what kind of content gets shared and whether or not you’re reaching your ultimate audience.
Content Creation Phase
You also want to consider which content formats you’ll use. Some are more costly than others to produce and require specific tools and skill sets. You’ll want to ensure you’ve optimized your social media profiles and create a style guide to act as publishing rules for your organization.
Customized content should be part of your plan and sharing relevant industry content should also be part of your process. Customize your content to map to best practices for Twitter as well as each of the other platforms you use so that the content showcases your brand’s personality.
And finally, publishing on a routine and consistent basis will be necessary to create the right kind of experience for audience development. Determine when and how often you’ll post to each social channel.
Social Media ROI
It’s less about the number of followers and likes you get and more about seeing how your time was spent and what the numbers mean.
For example, you’ll want to look at content consumption to understand how many people actually viewed the content. Knowing how many people shared the content is useful as well because it gives you some insight as to the value of the information. You’ll most certainly want to be able to track the number of converted leads you attained as well as being able to understand what direct revenue came as a result of these social media efforts.
While most marketers are preoccupied with ROI (and for good reason), we also need to acknowledge the more qualitative benefits of social media marketing too.
The recent research from Social Media Examiner listed the following expectations marketers had of their social media programs:
Expected Benefits of Social Media
Web Traffic 77%
Develop Loyalty 70%
Market Insight 68%
Sales Leads 65%
Improve SEO 58%
New Partnerships 55%
Establish Thought Leadership 55%
New Sales 51%
Reduce Costs 50%
Social Media Success Takes Time
Social media is, however, a long-term play. If you’re impatient or looking for overnight success, social media is not the tactic to focus on—move your efforts to advertising. If you need to boost awareness rapidly or pump up sales with a coupon, advertising works really well.
Social media is about building relationships that ultimately lead to sales. Social media is a means of getting introduced to new prospects, but it takes time to turn those new connections into something that is tangible, like click-throughs attributable to your social media activity.
The most immediate benefit of social media marketing is awareness creation. That’s important because people can’t buy from you if they don’t even know you exist. Awareness leads to engagement. Further engagement may result in trust and credibility.
But the most important thing to remember is that successful social media marketing takes time and effort–it’s about building relationships. You have to make the time and expend the effort to build those relationships.