Does Social Media Marketing Work?
Digital Marketing is the new normal. In the United States, 65% of the population engage in social media. Out of those who use the internet, social platforms are used by 76%. Today, many companies are investing in social media marketing. However, there are conflicting statistics and mixed opinions on whether implementing a social media strategy can lead to a positive ROI. The question, “Does Social Media marketing work?” might just be the million dollar question of 2017.
If you’re looking for an answer to this question, you won’t get a definite one. Determining what’s right for your business can only be answered by your business and not someone else’s. You’ll need to (a) experiment by implementing social media into your own marketing strategy, or (b) reflect on the one that you already have implemented. No matter what step you’re at, here are five questions to ask yourself in order to determine if social media is right for your business.
1. Do you know where your customers are?
Social Media is a virtual platform of communities and networks that view, create, and share many forms of expressions. As virtual as they are, Social Media platforms are homes! Customers “live” in these platforms, spending as much as two hours per day on any given platform… But just like people in real life, not every customer lives under the same roof. There are different platforms for different kinds of audiences. That being said, pay no mind to the silly theory that demands you to be present on every popular social platform out there. Business owners often think they need to be on all of these platforms and highly underestimate the time and effort it takes to build and thrive on a single platform alone. Get to know these platforms and where the majority of your target market “lives”. Pick or cut down to one or a few platforms to commit to and begin testing. Unlike traditional advertising (which will most likely blanket a demographic in which more than half are actually uninterested in what you are trying to sell to them), social media marketing gives you the chance to ensure you’re targeting the right audience. For example, with Facebook technology, you are able to utilize programmatic tools to get your ads in front of the right demographic, psychographic, and geographic market.
2. Are you willing to commit to the long haul to achieve results?
Unlike traditional advertising, you need to take the time to make social media work for you. Your ability to build and nurture a loyal and trusting audience will determine the strength of your foundation. You must create and share valuable content on a continual basis, in order to develop your brand’s identity and keep your audience. If you aren’t constantly creating and sharing, you will more than likely lose the attention and trust of your audience. Impact can diffuse very quickly against other competitors and the infinite amount of miscellaneous distractions on social media.
If you are considering, or currently working with any third-party PR or social media “specialists,” be wary that they may actually hurt your brand more than it may help it. Before hiring any third-party specialists, make sure they have a clear vision of your brand and its business goals, and are prepared with a content plan for each platform. If you’re taking on social media on your own or have hired a team member, make sure to delegate enough time and effort to commit. Remember, Social media may be free for the most part, but your business’ success with it lies at the expense of real time and efforts dedicated to develop your platforms.
3. Have you created a content plan and will it be valuable to your audience?
There’s no point in sharing or posting content if it is not relevant nor valuable to your audience. Amongst a heavy saturation of social media influence, you need to be thinking of innovative ways to appeal, excite, and engage your customers and it can’t always be about the product or service that you offer. Ask yourself, what values are important to my customer? What is the underlying purpose of my product or service and how does it correlate with my customer’s purpose? This sounds kind of deep… and it is! This is what customers really care about, even if they are unaware of it. Effective social media strategies are informational, NOT interruptive. It’s about positive progression and being in tune with your customer’s needs and what they consider valuable.
4. Are you ready to be “social” and join in on the conversation?
While traditional marketing campaigns are usually organized in quarterly schedules, social media marketing gives your business the opportunity to quickly respond to shifting trends or recent developments. The quick response time is a whole different ball game! And while traditional advertising only speaks at you, social media is the two-way conversation that speaks with you. Take advantage of the opportunity–simply posting valuable content on a continual basis is not enough to drive engagement. You need to make sure your audience is responding and you need to be there when they start talking! Respectively, you will need to share the content of your community every so often. Creating both brand & user-generated content will ultimately create brand that is more authentic and trustworthy!
5. Do you plan on monitoring & measuring your results?
According to Social Media Examiner’s “2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report,” 32% of 5,000 people surveyed in the marketing industry do not have their social media KPI’s in place and 42% of those surveyed aren’t able to measure the ROI. Don’t be that guy! You want to know if your efforts have been turning followers into actual customers. You cannot figure this out without measuring, let alone not clearly knowing what your goals are for using social media in the first place.
Unlike traditional marketing, social media has built in analytics right at your fingertips. You will want to utilize them in order to truly gauge whether your social media marketing goals are being reached. You can’t just walk in blindly and expect to meet these goals. The end-goal is not to convey a brand message nor gain likes & followers; likes and follows are more like micro-leads than actual conversions. It’s important to understand your audience and use analytics gathered to ultimately generate a ROI. Only by trial and error and careful monitoring, can you figure out if social media is the way to go.