Is Social Media Wasted Marketing?

social media iconsI need to confess that I have recently changed my thinking on social media for business. I used to question its effectiveness to the point of scoffing at it as merely “unfocused advertising.” This was because social media didn’t allow for very good tracking beyond rather uninformative “likes and shares.” Not anymore.

Better Technology

The available technology has been changing at a very rapid pace. More importantly, the realization of possibilities and the will to put the technology to use have also both improved.

The analytics that social media companies can now offer to advertisers are truly astounding, and will one day rival the abilities of search providers like Google. For example, several weeks ago, Instagram began offering much of the same analytics and user tracking as Facebook.

Social media companies are now focusing on and developing better attribution analysis and reporting. Also, the unique identifiers of users’ social media accounts allow for some very exciting tracking and analysis.

These developments vastly enhance the ability to determine the effectiveness of a campaign. The biggest technical improvements are on the advertising side, but these capabilities are also crossing over to the marketing side.

Social Media is now better at Advertising, and at Marketing

Social media advertising is different than social media marketing. The first refers to paid advertisements on social media. We all know how that works. The second refers to unpaid, organic engagement on social media. This has taken longer to improve.

Improvements to ad targeting have enhanced the capabilities of social media advertising. This means that recent changes are now getting ads in front of interested eyes far more efficiently than ever before.

This better targeting is an exciting effect. Couple that result with the following, and the case for social media is much stronger.

Social media marketing is great for keeping up brand awareness. This is important to your sales pipeline, because some people may like your product or service, but not have the time or money to buy it. If you can keep up awareness of your brand and your offer, when that person is ready to make a purchase, they will remember you.

Social media marketing allows engagement with consumers of your product or service. By engaging with your prospects, you have the opportunity to earn and maintain their trust. Effective use of social media marketing not only assists consumer memory, it also helps with the “know, like, and trust” factors in a purchase.

So, not only are your social media ads now better at getting in front of interested eyes, but you have a better opportunity to start a dialog with those interested prospects.

Time & Effort

If social media has one disadvantage, it is clearly the time and effort required to carry out an effective strategy. You pretty well need somebody to monitor your channels full time.

The time requirement is a real challenge for small to medium size companies. Many business owners just don’t have a budget for a social media person. Unless the owner or manager has a personal interest in using one of the social platforms, it can be difficult to find time to stay on top of your social media accounts. This too, is improving.

Social media companies acknowledge the resource challenge for business owners, and are always developing better tools for advertisers and marketers to utilize.

You may think that with many of these advancements, the technical expertise required can also become daunting. But designers are trying to help you, and the medium is constantly improving. Plus, there are more social media professionals than ever before available to help you.

What’s Your Game Plan?

You may have an in-house marketing manager, you can hire a freelancer, or you can even hire a freelancer to work with the manager. It doesn’t matter how you’re set up, but you need to have a plan.

The best advice for undertaking a social media campaign is to plan a strategy. There can be nothing more pointless than investing a bunch of time and effort, getting frustrated when you can’t keep up, and abandoning the cause. This is a waste of resources, and may even be counterproductive to your other marketing.

First you need to plan out your campaign. This should start with clearly identifying your objectives. What do you expect to get from the campaign? Who will implement it? When will it end? Be specific.

Then you need to identify the timelines required to advertise and market on the social media platform(s). Keep in mind, this marketing medium is a natural fit for ongoing engagement.

The best practice is to set aside a specific amount of time each day for regular engagement. Schedule these times to be certain that it is indeed regular, and so that you can follow up on whether it is being done when expected. Don’t leave your marketing manager an open slate (even if that’s you).

Next you need to periodically review whether the tasks are being performed, and if the goals are being met. If regular engagement isn’t happening, your goals are unlikely to be realized. If it is occurring on time, then you may still have other performance issues to tweak.

Finally, you need to end it. This is especially true of a focused campaign, versus a general branding strategy. For any specific product or service, your offer will get stale, and your marketing people will get tired or bored. For general branding, highlight one particular feature of your brand at a time. You’ve set a campaign’s length, now end it, and move to the next campaign.

Stay fresh in consumers’ minds with new offers. Keep your marketing people interested and excited with new projects. Following this advice also helps with generation of new content.

Own It! – Four Quick Tips For Social Media

  • Manage your social media strategy like you manage your finances, or any other aspect of your business. Run a campaign in the same manner.
  • Don’t forget to analyze it when it’s done. And don’t let that analysis prevent you from starting the next campaign. Part of staying fresh, is not allowing your brand to decompose in-between campaigns. You can always tweak the next campaign after it starts.
  • Keep in mind that social media is quite new as a marketing medium. Platforms will improve and new ones will emerge. Consumer trends will change in concert. Somebody needs to stay on top of these developments.
  • Acknowledge that you, as the business owner, may not be the best person to stay abreast of what’s new. This is a good argument for hiring a marketing specialist, whether in-house or freelance.

Social media has proven to be growing in potency. The technology involved makes it continually more effective. Understanding of how best to utilize social media is growing too.  Use it wisely, and you will see results.

Hopefully you found this article useful and will share it with your business contacts. If you have questions about this article, please feel free to contact the writer.