Effectively capitalizing on social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy, whether your objective is increased sales, lead generation, brand awareness, customer satisfaction and retention, or any combination of these or other goals. Use social media for marketing to develop long-term relationships built on trust and ongoing "conversations" with potential customers with the goal of increasing Search Marketing Equity.
Social Media Requires Investment to Return Equity
In order to learn how to use social media for marketing, you must begin with an understanding of one basic premise: Results develop over time, and you must be prepared to commit the resources required and have the patience and perseverance to nurture a process that can have a dramatic and positive effect on growing your business.
Participating in sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and your own blogs can put your message in front of millions of users at little or no cost. Additionally, these and other similar sites, such as industry forums and online communities, are excellent resources for researching your markets, customers and competitors.
Why Commit to Social Media?
Among the many benefits of using social media for marketing are:
- Virtually anyone you want to do business with can be found online
- You can easily research markets, competitors and customer interests
- You save time and money if you learn to use social media for marketing effectively
- You learn what customers are saying about your company and products as well as those of your competitors
- Engaging in meaningful conversations will put your in touch with your market more effectively than traditional advertising
- You build an ever-increasing audience that can be readily converted to leads and, ultimately, sales
Engagement is the Key to Social Media for Businesses
The key to using social media for marketing is to continually engage your audience through conversations and by providing meaningful content that is valuable in solving problems or demonstrating ways to save time, money or operate more efficiently. You do not want to be overly promotional in your efforts. Rather, you are building long-term relationships with potential customers who over time trust you to regularly provide valuable information, which will eventually "pull" them into your website as customers.
Begin your program of social media for marketing by identifying the sites most appropriate for your market and the most active users on those sites. Monitor the posts, discussions, comments and questions to determine the key topics of interest. Add your comments or suggestions or ask questions as appropriate, always maintaining a conversational tone — again without blatant self promotion.
Once your have established yourself as an active participant, you can offer substantive content, such as professionally produced white papers, that have the potential to substantially increase your following. A white paper posted on your site, for example, can be excerpted or linked on your social media sites to reach a broad audience and promote inbound traffic. Your blogs can be leveraged in the same manner. Moreover, the built-in sharing and commenting tools on social media sites will not only further expand your audience reach, the resulting inbound links to your site will catch the attention of search engines and gradually improve your ranking.
It is critical, however, that you continually monitor your sites, using their built-in search functions or services such as Google Alerts. Respond quickly to any posts directed at you as well as any to which you can add meaningful information in order to maintain your position as a reliable source and thought leader.
Give your social media for marketing program a good six months to generate a substantial audience and a steady flow of traffic. If you have properly engage your readers and carefully nurtured your relationships, you'll likely find social media to be your primary source for inbound marketing.
What is your favorite idea for using social media as a component of online marketing strategy?