What is the real role of social media in business?
- 08 Dec
Most businesses have some sort of social media presence, whether it be an all-singing, all-dancing, regularly updated Facebook page, or a mothballed and slightly dusty-looking LinkedIn account. These days we expect companies to have a social presence, but is it really worth all the effort?
A recent survey undertaken by Deal With The Media found that two thirds of SME owners in the UK do not believe their social media marketing has had a beneficial impact on their business. So what is the point of all those hours spent attempting to connect with a community?
Well, firstly, it is impossible to deny or ignore that business owners of every age spend more and more time online, including on social media sites – it is the place we all go for our news, our information and our entertainment. Done well, therefore, social media allows businesses to generate brand awareness at very little, or no cost, and is often the first touch point that a customer has with a brand.
And that is the main point: businesses need to understand the role that social media is playing in their marketing strategies. Direct enquiries might be few and far between, but as a first step in a new customer’s journey it can be invaluable.
Being able to engage with potential customers whilst they are still in this ‘discovery’ stage is a good way for your audience to get to know your business before it approaches you to buy. Updates should be kept personal, informative and educational, even entertaining at times (yes, even in B2B!). Frequency is key, as is curating and publishing relevant industry news in addition to your own.
Businesses shouldn’t overlook the paid options on social media either.
Social media advertising options are so cost effective that even the smallest of budgets can achieve impressive results through tightly targeted activity. Facebook advertising, for instance, provides a great way to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences that are similar to your customer base, and, therefore, most likely to be interested. You can be very precise with the targeting, using for instance gender, location, job title or interests to hone your message in on the right audience.
With social media advertising, you are fully in control of your budget and can set a daily limit as well as a start and end date for the campaign. You can choose where your ad is shown (desktop and mobile for example) and the platform will calculate the daily reach of your adverts based on the interests and criteria you provide.
One of the appeals of social media advertising is the transparency of reporting: it is easy to measure, but benchmarks must also be established in order to calculate ROI. Results should be checked frequently (at least once a week) in order to understand the value that is being delivered and the opportunities that exist for improvement.
Here at The Marketing Eye, we always recommend that social media activity is linked to relevant landing pages, with the intention of encouraging visitors to complete a single action. A landing page should be clear, simple and easy to use, matching and reaffirming the message from the advert that was clicked on to arrive at the page. There should be one call to action and one link.
So, in conclusion, done badly or half-heartedly, social media is a waste of time (or is that just a self-fulfilling prophecy?), but done well, a clearly thought-out strategy, with social media marketing as one part of the overall marketing mix, can result in moving customers along their decision-making journey in a highly targeted and cost efficient way.
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