Social media has gone mainstream. Everyone knows Facebook, especially with its IPO, even my mother-in-law owns a Facebook account now.
From a business perspective, it represents an unprecedented marketing opportunity that transcends traditional middlemen and connects companies directly with customers. This is why nearly every business on the planet is now exploring social media marketing initiatives.
Companies are already embracing social media, taking advantage of the platforms available be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Google+. Generally, one will start off with building a following/fan base/circle to connect with netizens. But, the truth is - it is always easier said than done.
To study how well these companies engage with a local audience, a quick study on Twitter and Facebook were performed. We have discerned that quite a number of these companies are under-performing, having low user engagement and are struggling to measure the ROI.
It finally dawned on us that these companies somewhat underestimate how much time and effort it might take to maintain a social media channel and how to maximize its returns.
If you're marketing your business, you would want to closely examine the following approach. Here at Hashmeta, we set out to uncover the "how-to" of social media marketing and unveil the best practices for your inbound marketing effort.
- Brand Positioning
What comes to mind when someone hears your brand? Is your brand unique and memorable? Do people feel an emotional attachment to it?Everyone loves a story. Articulate the aspirations for your brand, tell a story and undertake a branding initiative if you don't have one yet. As information disperses across a thousand channels, clearly defining your brand becomes more important than ever.
- Set your business objective
Align Your Social Strategy with Business Objectives. The first and often most overlooked step in social media marketing is to determine what you’re trying to accomplish and how you will approach it.As with any journey, you need to know what direction to take to reach your destination. The Social Media Measurement Compasses highlighted there are six business use cases for Social Media which can help you chart your journey and stay on course.
- Define Success Measurement Metrics
“What is the ROI of social media?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions related to social strategy.A report from Altimeter Social Media ROI Cookbook reveals that although many organizations have established formalized social media programs, the vast majority — 75% — still lack a holistic measurement strategy.While we identified no “perfect” solution to measuring the revenue impact of social media, several best practices have emerged that are bridging the gaps between what is possible today and what may be possible in the future.Companies that fail to quantify the hard and soft benefits of their social media programs and activities risk flying blind into a storm.
Those that start now to formulate a measurement strategy will be best positioned to succeed in this new customer-centric world. Here is a very interesting Infographic from the folks at Invent Help that summarizes the ins and outs of measuring social media ROI.
Infographic courtesy of Invent Help.
- Increase visibility and online presence
You need to go where your consumer lives online. If most of your customers, prospects, and influencers are there on Facebook, you should be there: listening, engaging, sharing, and helping them.It takes time to build a huge base of following. Be patient and persistent. There are some tools out there which can help you to identify your target audience.
- Engage your customers with Fresh Content or Curated content
Be transparent, creative and light-hearted. Create and share quality blog posts, infographic and original video content to continually contribute value to your audiences.You can offer free tools, free tips, free video or free eBooks.If you run a hair salon, offer free tips on better shampoo, better hair care/treatment and so forth. If you're a dating agency, free dating tips. Free content generates awareness, builds loyalty, creates newsworthy topics, and spreads word-of-mouth.Alternatively, you can save time by collecting related content from others and aggregate this content and share it with your customers. From time to time you can conduct polls or ask questions about a related topic to stir up the sentiment.
- Involve your brand advocates, and connect with influencers
Social Media is about building a relationship. Grab every opportunity to foster rapport with your brand advocate and influencers. Involved them in your conversation and posts. Make time to focus on engaging with others is far more meaningful than the rat race of growing followers or fans without a clear objective.
- Leverage on social marketing strategist or hire the right partner
Most social media platforms don't require a subscription charge, but they certainly require an investment -- in people, in technology, your reputation, and your time.If you have the budget, you can hire someone to help you. If you’re less than comfortable identifying that person within your own company, you can obtain the services of any proficient Internet Marketing Agency with real experience in social influence.Often times, these agencies can generate more qualified leads and deliver greater results and value. Last but not least, If you were to outsource, remember to ask them for case studies and success stories to prove that they actually practice what they preached.