Some people have huge expectations of social media marketing and I think this is largely due to the misinformation that exists in the market. We have calls and emails from a variety of different business owners telling us about how their social media person 'let them down' or that they don't think social media works.
Here is a list of a few of the things you can look at when your social media doesn't live up to expectation.
1. Have a plan
Social Media Marketing is all about building online visibility and growing your name/brand. Used well, it can have a major impact on traffic and therefore impact leads and sales but this takes time and money. Contrary to popular belief social media marketing doesn't come cheap! Like all marketing campaigns, a social media campaign requires a plan with set objectives and budgets.
2. Take a look at your end game
Most companies and SME's use a website as their 'hub' of social media activity and most brief us to engage to build an audience and drive traffic to the site however, we do find that many websites are not built correctly taking into account the objectives the owner has in mind. It's worthwhile revisiting your website in terms of strategy and objectives before applying social media marketing applications. They work in conjunction and it's really important that they 'marry' to get the best results.
3. Landing Pages
Landing pages on a website play a huge role in SEO and the sales process. If you use a good web designer who has an understanding of SMM, SEO and marketing, they should be able to explain that to you before you start investing your money and time. SMM can drive traffic but if the landing page i.e. where the audience is being sent, doesn't fulfil they won't buy. Your content on the 'hub' that you use is vital to the process. Get it right first.
4. Choose your Tools
Most people open a Twitter and Facebook account first and try them out. It's important to bear in mind that not all tools suit all businesses or all people. Some brands benefit from more visual tools like Vimeo or Flickr and others require more of a written content like a blog. Going back to your strategy and then determining which tools would be best for your business SMM strategy will save you a lot of time and effort to gain results.
Remember that whatever industry you are in, you are probably one of many already online. Research and explore what they are doing and instead of re-inventing the wheel apply the methods they have proven over time.
6. Facebook isn't Everything
Facebook is an amazing tool to use in SMM but not in all cases. We have clients where we just don't recommend Facebook pages. Try the application yourself and also visit the pages of your competitors and see how they are doing with it. In our experience Facebook is great for consumer oriented products and services but slower on business to business development. Don't get caught up in Facebook worship!
7. Think out of the box
When we develop an SMM strategy for a client there are two routes we think about. First, the generic campaign to gain awareness. Secondly, the short, sharp bursts of activity within that campaign to specific sectors of the audience we are building to get their loyalty and, from them, further growth. We don't always use the conventional SMM applications either.
We've had instances where we add in traditional media such as radio or print and sometimes a little 'kick' from a visual application like Flickr or Pinterest does the trick. There is nothing that you can think of that isn't available for you to add to your SMM arsenal to drive your brand further. If you can dream it up, you can find it online.
8. Look at your Sales Process
Everyone we have worked with wants to know that SMM converts leads to sales. It does but you need to understand that SMM works in the same way as a one to one sale to a large degree and for it to work successfully you have to do your part – engage! People buy from people they know and like and trust. Be that person.
If you don't have time or energy or know how then find someone who does and ensure that they understand enough about SMM to do a good job for you. If you're selling online ensure that your website has an entrance and exit strategy and that your buyer is taken on the shortest, clearest journey to buy from you. If you have a sales team, ensure that they work with the SMM experts so that they understand the process and help enhance it.
9. Time is of the Essence
SMM takes time. Original content is required for your 'hub'. SEO is an ongoing process that requires research and application. Posting on all those applications takes time and skill eg: blind posting on Facebook, overcoming negativity in forums, listings, spreading articles and blog posts – all of this doesn't just happen by itself, it's a process.
Sure you can speed it up by adding more people into the mix or using decks like Hootsuite and SproutSocial but, at the end of the day it's a process managed by people and there are only so many hours in a day. You need to decide if you can do it in between everything else you do or do you need a team to do it for you.
10. Manage Your Expectations
You are building awareness of your brand/service/company/yourself. Be realistic about that process, the costs and the time involved. We'd love to tell our clients that we can 'guarantee' the outcome of an SMM campaign but we can't because it's dependent on too many other factors ie: your services/products, you and your team, your website content, your sales processes, your marketing to name but a few.
What we can guarantee is the increase in online awareness and organic growth created by a consistent and well managed campaign.
Jane Van Velsen is founder and owner of an on line content management agency and a social media marketing agency Social Media Shop. A strong marketing strategist with proven history in advertising agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, TBWA, The Marketing Store.
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