One of the first things to realize about social media marketing is that it’s a long-term game.
It’s a continuous process of content production, ideation and most of all consistency. When you develop a strong social media marketing strategy, your loyal consumers will expect to hear from you regularly and continue the relationship.
With this foundation in mind, we can explore social media marketing and its purpose in business.
1) Connect with your target market
With traditional marketing, businesses pay to reach a large number of people all at the same time (i.e television ad) where 1% of the viewers may be interested in the product or business.
With social media marketing the reach of a post is much smaller, but it reaches those who are genuinely interested in whatever your business offers.
Social media content is based on providing value to your niche and connecting with consumers over shared interests. Not only can businesses connect over interests, but they can also provide solutions to questions and problems.
This marketing channel becomes a two-way street. Businesses are not just blasting out their messages to anyone and everyone, but consumers are also actively looking to connect with businesses.
2) Listening and interacting in consumer conversations
Listening to customers and their interactions with your content is one of the most valuable aspects of social media. You can see an immediate response and you can be informed about what marketing strategies are working or not working.
It's easier than ever to get feedback, too. Although formal testing and focus groups are beneficial, there are new options to get instant feedback.
For example, Instagram stories have a polling feature that is invaluable for businesses of all sizes. J.Crew used Instagram to ask which items their followers liked more. Based on a quick poll icon they dropped into their story, J Crew could directly and instantly be informed which products were in demand. They then produced those items and sold them in stores!
Through your consumer conversations you can also gauge the overall sentiment of your brand. Do people have good things to say? Use it as a testimonial. Are people upset? Mitigate a crisis ASAP!
3) Cultivate visitors into loyal consumers of your content
More and more, consumers have an expectation that they can connect with their favorite brands on social media. Social media is being used as a search engine and the opportunity here as a business is to capture those first visitors and make them fall in love with your business.
Think about this: your customers allow you to live in the same space as where they interact with close friends and families. That’s huge! Sharing space with close friends and family is part of what makes it so hard to stand out on social media, but if you’re able to add value in the form of education or entertainment you can create long-lasting relationships.
Those relationships will come back again and again for your offerings, your community and your added value to their lives.
4) Amplify your message
Those loyal consumers, of whatever your brand puts out, become advocates and brand ambassadors for your business.
This can come in different forms. It can be a review on Yelp about your cafe. It can simply be a share, pin or retweet of one of your messages to their network of friends. Better yet, they are a customer and they post about their incredible experience at your hotel on their social media!
These types of people become advocates for your brand and we all know that word of mouth, social proof and referrals are extremely important in business. This types of behaviors happen on social media and, if done right, your marketing can support these actions.
5) Changes in behavior
Social media can change behavior in a positive way.
When searching for new restaurants, if you have beautiful, enticing photos of your menu there is more chance people will want to dine at your restaurant. For hotels, when people see the beautiful property you have, they may stay with you instead of their initial choice.
Your connection with the consumer, your customer service and testimonials can lead people to change their behavior and do business with you over and over again.
Just keep in mind that social media can also have a negative impact on behavior as well — negative coverage can go viral just as fast, if not faster, than positive coverage.
In conclusion, part of social media’s purpose is to drive traffic to your website and freebies, but it’s also so much more. Businesses who are not using social media as a marketing tool are missing out on conversations, cultivating relationships and critical feedback.