Social media—or, more precisely, the way that people engage with businesses on social media—has rapidly rewritten the rules for online marketing.
Before the internet existed, you put ads for a product on the radio, in the paper, and on TV—because that’s where people went for information and entertainment.
Today isn’t really that different. If you want your business to survive, you still need to get your product in front of your potential customer base. However, your customers are now deaf and blind to radio and TV. They’re looking for information and entertainment in a new place: on social media.
The average person spends almost 2 hours a day on social media—more than they spend dressing, dining, and socializing in person. If your market includes teenagers, then your potential customer base may be online and connected through social media up to 9 hours a day.
In fact, there are more than 2 billion people online, including 81% of the U.S. population. People on the net have an incredible average of 7 social media accounts—and they use them! They now spend more of their online time on social media than they do searching, shopping, emailing, or reading content.
Once you realize that, it’s easy to understand why social media marketing is a necessary survival tactic for every business. If you don’t put your ads where people can find them, one of your competitors will be happy to take your place.
Analyzing the Market
While it can be difficult to adjust to the rapid changes in marketing, the popularity of social media can actually make online marketing easier and more cost-effective.
Social media sites each have their own unique culture, formed organically by the people who use the platforms. Do you want to reach Millennials? Try Instagram. If your product is designed for the U.S. rural population, try Facebook.
Social platforms capture each user’s age, gender, location, and interests. They also allow users to create whole communities around things as diverse as their politics and their diets.
All of those demographics are out there and available for use in marketing. Marketers can fine-tune their message and their audience, over and over again. That wealth of knowledge allows you to deliver your brand’s message to a very narrowly-targeted group of people without wasting money on misplaced ads. That focus helps keeps your bounce rate low and your conversion rate from clicks high.
It’s important, however, that you don’t go into social media marketing without a clear plan and a goal. Remember: getting people to click on your website is one thing, but converting them into customers is another.
Any well-designed PPC campaign can promise you hundreds of new followers in a short period of time. It takes a lot more strategy to orient a PPC campaign around users who are actively interested and engaged by a brand.
The difference between one hundred followers on your Facebook page and one actively engaged follower is like the difference between having a hundred casual acquaintances and having one good buddy who actually shows up to help you move apartments and then splits a pizza with you. They both have a place in your life, but one is intrinsically more valuable than the other.
Benefiting From Customer Engagement
Organic user engagement across your brand’s social media platforms brings a broad host of benefits that aren’t always easy to see from the metrics:
- You’re able to learn more about your active customers. If your customer demographics are different than you thought, that can help you rethink an advertising campaign and influence new product development or placement. At the very minimum, it can help you spot changing trends in your demographics as they occur. It can also help you continue to refine your brand’s message and marketing.
- You learn what content your customers find interesting. While “engagement doesn’t equal persuasion” a host of pins or retweets of a product picture does indicate you’ve captured someone’s attention. The more attention you get, the more your brand awareness spreads.
- It can boost website traffic. If you’re concerned about increasing the number of visits to your site, social media engagement is a way to boost your figures organically. Increased action on social media, whether it’s a like, share, comment, pin, or tweet, turns into increased visits to the business website. Every visit is another chance for conversion.
- It helps you build connections with your customer base. Social media platforms allow you to advertise without seeming like an advertisement. They give you an opportunity to talk with your customers without the pressure of a sale looming. You can use the platforms to answer questions, resolve problems, and even make the consumer feel special by offering specials and promotions.
- You can polish your brand identity and increase credibility. Credibility and branding are two heavily intertwined factors. An online presence helps your brand build a persona with values and a look that resonates with your customers. That’s not something to be underestimated — 64% of customers say that “shared values” are the main reason they have brand loyalty.
- Social media platforms encourage customers to provide marketing materials for you. Creative people are using their social media accounts to blog, vlog, tweet, and post about the products they use, the places they go, and the companies that mean something to them. That’s enthusiastic, credible advertising — and you don’t even have to pay for it!
Social media allows you to communicate directly with your customers—and lets them communicate back to you. That’s something no other form of advertising has done.
Refining Your Approach
Too many companies focus solely on getting followers and clicks. Instead, the best approach is to marry your PPC campaigns with your social media marketing into a coordinated plan.
A cross-channel effort lets you refine your PPC with all that wonderful information you’ve already culled from your social media pages and put it to use. You can tailor your PPC strategy to offer precise messages directly to the customers who are most likely to convert. For example, on Facebook, the Custom Audiences feature can be used to push your PPC ad to just those users who show the most organic social engagement. On Google, you can use the Customer Match feature for the same thing.
In turn, paid clicks can actually lead to more user-generated content that will ultimately boost the organic rankings for your business. If a customer clicks on your PPC, then links to your site or pins a product to their page, it boosts your rankings in the SERPs.
Ultimately, if you want to stay ahead of the curve in your market, it’s time to think of online advertising as part of the customer’s experience. Social media isn’t changing the way that marketing works—it’s already changed it.
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