Social media is weaved into our everyday lives. The launch of social media like Facebook coincided with the development of smartphones, and these combined factors explain why so many people now communicate, catch up with news, gossip and shop using the sites. Some business owners have regarded social media marketing as a fad in the past, but it's now a proven way of building loyalty and increasing revenue.
Research indicates that many customers make judgments about a business based on its presence on social media sites. If you don't have a Twitter account page or Facebook page, potential customers may pass you by. If a person lives his life in the social media world, he may be suspicious of a company that isn't taking part. You may not see the immediate potential for social media marketing for your business, but the variety of tools and techniques available means there are ways every industry sector can benefit from using the sites.
As well as posting comments and sharing text updates, social media platforms can be used to share images, video clips, and audio content. Social media marketing can be used to turn your business into a global brand or make you the number one in your local market.
One of the concerns many business owners have about using social media is how you convert activity into sales. Posting comments and updates can be very time consuming, and you may not feel the effort will deliver returns. Direct selling from social media sites isn't appropriate in many industries, and it's true that it can take time to see increases in sales.
On the beneficial side, focusing on establishing yourself as an expert and building trust is a great way to use Facebook, Twitter, and social sites. Social is also a great way of keeping in touch with your customers and reducing the risk of them moving to your competitors.
Before you start signing up for accounts and building profiles on social networks it's important to understand the ones your target market use. For example, it's generally accepted that LinkedIn is the best platform for marketing professional services. If your target customers are the younger generation, activity on Facebook Instagram is likely to be successful. Marketing using images and video has become very popular over the past year, and sites like Pinterest are perfect for this. One of the easiest ways to decide on the best social media platforms is to look at what your competitors are doing.
All marketing campaigns should be measured and evaluated, and it's important that you have ways of doing this for your social media activity. The first stage of doing this is to decide what your goals are. For example, you may want to increase visits to your website. Sending a message on Twitter or updating your Facebook page should have a measurable impact. Your goal may be long term, such as increasing business retention or the average size of an order. If you have processes for measuring returns, you can test different techniques and ways of using social media platforms to see what's most effective.
Social media marketing is a long-term commitment, and you must be prepared to stick with it. It's a waste of time and effort to stop posting updates and sending messages after a few months. Seek marketing initiatives to integrate social media into your plans versus it being an afterthought. Use of these new forms of reaching out to customers should be an extension of your marketing efforts, and it's essential that they are consistent.