We’ll even be picking out some key trends from social media marketing this year to give you a head start…
Why social matters to businesses (big & small)
Let’s start with why social matters. The key to understanding the value of social media for your business is recognising that social media is a tool like no other.
Social media puts you in direct contact with consumers and other businesses in an informal setting. It’s an easy-to-harness doorway direct to your market and there’s, quite simply, nothing else like it.
No matter how many surveys you run or customer personas you build, gathering real time, real life data via social media will always be the very best way to learn more about your customer base.
From the distances they run and the celebrities they follow, to their political persuasions and typical Friday nights, people love to share their lives via social media.
This gives businesses a unique and valuable opportunity to get closer to their target market, learning more and more about them.
The better you know your customers, the better you can make your service. After all, knowledge is power!
From exploring and connecting on an individual basis, to harnessing tonnes of information about your key demographics via analytics tools, there are lots of ways to gather facts about your customers via social media.
2. Reach fresh audiences on your doorstep & across the world
From exploring relevant hashtags, to setting up a geo search, there is now a multitude of ways to connect with an audience predisposed to care about your brand.
From individuals all over the world with an interest in your niche, to social media users in your local area, you can use social media to broaden your horizons and grow the reach of your business, however broad or narrow your scope may be.
3. Give customer service a boost
Many brands now use Twitter as an extension of their customer service offering. Perfect for solving small problems quickly and for building up a positive reputation through deft complaint handling, social media is increasingly important as a platform for customer service.
Instant access, 24/7 responses, no “on hold” music and great publicity if you handle complaints well – it’s the future, especially for ecommerce companies and B2Cs.
A big part of social media is being visible. Social media platforms allow you to contribute to the constant clamour of the web, providing businesses with a mouthpiece through which to make themselves heard.
Play your cards right, build your presence and deliver compelling content and consumers may start coming to you as a “known brand”, seriously boosting your market share with minimal investment.
5. Generate long-term leads
Social media isn’t about the hard sell, instead it’s about the slow burn. Building brand awareness will ensure your business is at the front of consumers’ minds when they eventually require a product or service similar to yours.
It’s also about building and nurturing relationships which gradually turn into valuable leads.
This is a place to connect, not a place to sell. Yet frequently strong, positive connections turn into sales further down the line.
6. Boost brand awareness cheaply
Part of the beauty of social media is its affordability. With a relatively small budget, small businesses can do rather a lot with the right strategy. With no barrier to entry, clever social media is one of the cheapest, most cost-effective digital marketing techniques available.
7. Become an industry leader & enhance your professional reputation
From potential partners to possible shareholders, social media isn’t just a space for connecting with consumers, it’s also a great place to cement your professional reputation.
By connecting with your industry socially and getting involved in debate and discourse online, you can start to carve a name out for your business online within your niche.
With reputation comes brand awareness. If you can connect enough to gain a reputation as an industry expert, you’ll start to find valuable opportunities springing up both online and offline.
Now you’re up to speed with some of the “whys” it’s time to look at the “hows” of social media marketing in 2015.
This is a rapidly evolving corner of digital marketing, which means it pays to maintain best practice while keeping tabs on the fresh new ideas and techniques coming to the fore.
Here are three crucial trends to be aware of as you begin your social media campaign.
Get on board with native advertising
As organic reach via social media lessens (as the marketplace becomes ever more flooded), connecting with your audience through paid social media is becoming increasingly important.
It’s also still very cost effective, especially since native advertising through platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is proving to be particularly powerful at the moment.
The best approach is to use these platforms to promote content developed for your target market, hosted on your website. This boosts traffic, increases brand awareness and can help develop brand loyalty too.
Get smarter with social measurement
Once upon a time it was nigh on impossible to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing, let alone prove ROI.
Today measurement tools for social media are becoming more and more sophisticated.
From utilising UTM parameters get a clear picture from Google Analytics about your social media activity, to employing tools like Nimble and uberVuTool to analyse social campaigns according to platform, target audience and content type, social is getting more measurable by the minute.
This means it’s also becoming more precise, as better information helps businesses fine tune their campaigns.
Transform customer service with “tweet to call”
We’ve already spoken about just how useful social media is as a tool for improving customer service, yet 140 characters aren’t always enough to solve customer problems.
Equally, some issues are too sensitive for social media. That’s why some companies are now pioneering “tweet to call” links.
These unique, individual links are DM’d to customers, giving them direct telephone access to the company in question and a personal customer service rep.
Once the call is complete, the link is deactivated. This ensures brands can solve problems quickly and privately, while embracing the convenience and accessibility of social media.