Almost half of the world’s population uses the internet and 75% of those people are active social media users. That number is equivalent to over 2.3 billion people who use social media on a regular basis. The majority of consumers also admit to relying on social media and their friend’s social media posts when making purchasing decisions. Social media is taking word of mouth to a whole new level.
With numbers like these, marketing your small or large business via social media is a no-brainer in 2016. Social media marketing is the process of gaining website traffic to your business through the use of social media sites and 80% of business executives say that social media is important to their marketing and branding strategies. But, there are some challenges in social media marketing and they involve creating the community, getting the data, making sense of it and then taking it to the next level. As with any challenge, you can use these to your advantage to build a strong and
Designing a strategy
The first step to any marketing plan is to build a strategy and many businesses struggle with knowing how to do this. With a multitude of social media networks and ways to market, there are many choices to be made. Start by figuring out your goals and objectives and what you are trying to accomplish using social media marketing. You might want to:
- Increase brand recognition
- Increase website traffic
- Gain brand loyalty
- Measure conversions
- Build a community
Once you’ve decided on your concrete goals, make them measurable. Do you want to increase your website traffic by 35%? Do you want to get 1,000 new page likes a week? Can you get 100 shares of your content per day?
Targeting the right people
In order to meet your goals, you’ll need to target the right people by first figuring out who they are. Create a character profile for your traditional customer base with information like:
- likes and dislikes
You could create multiple profiles if you have a variety of customers. From here, it will be easier to decide which social channels to concentrate on, based on the typical users on each. For example, if the primary user of Twitter is teenagers, but your average customer is a baby boomer, you probably don’t want to expend too much energy on Twitter.
Tying social activities to business outcomes
Many businesses report that one of their largest challenges in social media marketing is tying their activities on social media to their business goals. When formulating your strategy, you’ll also need to decide how likes and shares and increased website traffic will improve your bottom line. You’ve already considered who your target customer is and what social channels to use, so now you’ll need to decide on a content plan that will achieve your business goals. Not only does it need to align with your messaging and be relevant to your audience, it also needs to be engaging, valuable and shareable.
In order to know what will appeal to your audience, you could look to your competition for information. Learn from what works for them and what hasn’t through the customer engagement on their channels. If Facebook is one of your social channels (and it should be!), there are ways to tie back your business to your content using features like conversion pixels and URL shorteners.
Having people who know how to use social media
Gaining customers through social media is a matter of a trusting relationship. Your business’ social media accounts are there to build a community of like-minded people who like or love your brand. It is a spot where they can engage with the company and with others, but if you don’t have the right trained staff to engage back, you could be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. Not responding to messages or tweets is a killer when it comes to your social media marketing and companies are mishandling up to 80% of customer engagement opportunities. With almost ¾ of consumers saying that they are more likely to recommend a brand after having a positive social media response, this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Having staff who know how to engage your customers on social media is paramount to your success as a company. Many companies are hiring social media consultants, but training all of your staff may be the ticket to increasing brand awareness and increasing employee engagement.
Assessing the data
Once a strategy and content plan is in place, along with trained staff, the largest obstacle to social media marketing for businesses is how to access the data. The metrics are really just as important as the actual new customers you are bringing in, as it will teach you what works and what doesn’t. Most social networks have their own built-in analytics where you can see:
- Growth rate
- Bounce rate
- Referral traffic
Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Pinterest all have built-in analytics servers but you can also find a third-party social analytic tool, some that are free and some that have a small fee.
Overcoming social media marketing challenges is possible with a little work and analytic thinking. Changing and tailoring your strategy based on the newest data will keep your marketing fresh and engaging.