Social media is powerful. It’s now the number one daily activity for American adults which means it’s a great medium to gain exposure, generate a following and build relationships. Given the investment of time we place on social media, it makes it an important and personal activity for consumers an emotive place where we scroll our personal news feeds and read posts from people and brands we care about. If you use it the right way to expose your brand, you’ll gain a solid audience that is personally invested in your business and may even become your brand advocates. When people are personally invested, they are more likely to share information about you with their circles which is a highly effective way to boost your brand message and gain a following.
It’s not all about instant sales
Marketers tend to focus too much on an instant ROI and use social media to drive a strong call to action and boost sales. Whilst this can be effective, it’s important to realise that direct selling isn’t the most important (or easy) aspect of social media marketing. Instead, the goal should be creating long-term brand advocacy relationships that drive engagement and build your fan base. This, of course, leads to more sales in the long run.
The problem is that marketers get nervous about advocacy because it’s difficult putting a dollar figure on someone who is potentially interested or a person who may or may not influence another person to buy. However, research proves that brand advocacy has the most potential to lead to long-term sales for two reasons.
- People trust personal recommendations much more than advertising copy.
- The algorithms built into social media favour posts by real people over companies, so you gain greater exposure by having a fan share your content than you would through a paid ad.
This means that you need to move beyond a mindset of simple dollar value ROI on your advertising and instead think strategically for the long term.
It’s all good and well to have a large fan base and thousands of followers however the real goal is engagement. Are your followers engaging with your content? Are they liking, sharing and commenting on your posts? More importantly, are the visiting your website and, if so, how engaged are they as visitors? This is where you need to look at the analytics built into sites life Facebook and Twitter and understand when is the best time for engagement. Reports can show you what time and days your fan base are most active and you need to use that information to make sure that you’re posting content at the right time so that you get them when they’re actively engaged on social media.
Asides from social media analytics, make sure you’re reviewing your website traffic to determine what engagement you’re getting from each source and then work out where to best focus your efforts. The metrics you should be looking at for website engagement are:
- Bounce rate
This tells you how engaged individuals are once they hit your site. Are they clicking beyond the home page and engaging with your content or are they ‘bouncing’ without completing any on-site activities or call to action?
- Traffic source
Look where your referrals are coming from. Are you getting more traffic from Facebook, Twitter or organically? If you map your advertising efforts of a particular day back to the traffic generated from that source, you can better gauge the effectiveness of your campaign in driving traffic to your site.
Your objective for visitors will be different depending on what your business is. It may be simply to subscribe to your newsletter or download an e-book. Ideally, you want visitors to complete some action once they reach your landing page, so make sure you’re tracking conversion rate to understand how much of your marketing efforts convert.
Having seen how we can track ROI on our campaigns, it’s important to remember that social media is not all about conversions and end sales. Social media is very much about awareness and influence. It’s about Getting people comfortable with your brand and the content you share. There’s nothing wrong with running a campaign to simply build brand awareness rather than conversion. It’s this building of relationships and audience that leads to long term success and ignites your brand more than any sales pitch ever could.
It’s important to understand what your objective is when you start your campaign. Are you looking to grow your fan base, drive website traffic, or just create brand awareness? The big social sites have pre-sets that allow you to tailor your campaign based on objective which makes it super easy.
The Power of Referrals
Word of mouth is undeniably powerful. Referrals drive growth and conversion more than any sales copy ever could. For example, research shows that when you include customer reviews as part of your marketing, conversion rates are 40% higher on Facebook, 8.4 higher on Twitter and 5.3 times higher on LinkedIn. That’s a huge difference! The reason is that people trust other people. They trust referrals over advertising any day.
Influencers are people who have a strong influence, presence and large following in the area being targeted. For example, using a travel blogger with 50,000 fans to blog about your tour company is a highly effective way to influence potential buyers and raise brand awareness. Influencers are trusted amongst their fan base as they’ve built communities and are passionate about only promoting the best products and services to their audience.
You can identify influencers by analysing social media profiles of people in your target niche. Here, it’s important to not just look at the sheer number of followers a person has but also how engaged their audience is. Is their content being liked and shared?
Another approach here is to think of your brands biggest fans as influencers. Engage them to help promote your business by offering them some perks such as discounted products, event invites or more. If you utilise your biggest advocates to further spread referrals, you’ll build a large and highly engaged fan base.
It’s obvious that the power of social media to reach potential customers should not be underestimated. However, don’t fall into the trap of making everything you do about short-term sales and conversions. Be strategic in your marketing approach and go for quality content over quantity. If you post poor content or go for obvious short-term wins you’ll start to lose your audience. Instead, invest in the long-term and build high-quality relationships and plan for long term success.