Social Media and Marketing Strategy
Social media is still very much misunderstood.
Large organisations are still failing to capture the essence of what social media can achieve, so if you are a small business struggling to get to grips with it, then hopefully that fact offers some consolation
Previously I published a blog on an Introduction to Social Media, which gives an overview of how to get started. This blog, however, addresses the principles of introducing a marketing strategy that includes social media.
I can offer training on how to set up the various accounts, but I felt it was more important to provide the context for which these platforms are relevant to your business.
Social media CANNOT be used in isolation. However, it has the potential to:
- Raise brand awareness
- Educate your audience
- Provide Information
- Position your product or service
- Build Trust and break down barriers
- Drive traffic to your website
- Generate Leads
- Provide after sales care
- Keep customers loyal
Some of you may be familiar with the Sales Funnel. There are many variations of this, but essentially it is a matrix that demonstrates the process customers go through before they make an actual purchase.
A simplistic model is
- Action – purchase
- Repeat Engagement
This shows that purchase decisions are rarely impulsive, particularly in the business to business world (B2B)
So to send your prospects further down the funnel using social media requires strategic planning.
Social Media is about CONTENT. It is about RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, fostering TRUST, and becoming the VOICE OF AUTHORITY in your field.
It has to sit within your overall marketing plan. How do you currently generate sales? How do you currently follow up enquiries and how long does it take to close the sale?
I ask this because what you have to recognise is that social media adds layers to this funnel and will perform at a different rate.
Whether this is faster or slower is dependent on where in the sales process the leads are when they engage with you socially.
On its own, social media reaches buyers earlier in the sales process, which means they take longer to permeate the funnel. THIS IS WHERE WE GO WRONG because the expectation is that social media will generate instant sales. This is apparent by the language used in tweets and on Facebook. Some businesses are guilty of the hard sell, whereby no attempt to engage with the audience is made, nor is there any effort to educate about products, services and how they can benefit their prospects, nor any opportunity taken to demonstrate industry knowledge.
We are consumers ourselves. Think about how you make a purchase, the process you go through. Would you be on Twitter reading tweets and respond to something that said, ‘we do great websites call us now’? I very much doubt it. How do you know they really are great, who are these people, do you know them, like them, trust them? No, so why would you respond instantly to that? You don’t. That is the point.
There are some general tips that you need to consider when using Social Media
- Connect with your customers
- Engage through regular content – blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, photos, videos
- Reach through advertising – ppc or sponsored stories on Facebook, case studies and testimonials
- Influence – encourage current customers to become advocates to persuade prospects to buy
Make sure that you have strong calls to action on your platforms, particularly on Facebook. Linked In is more about participating in discussion, Twitter is a mixture of information sharing and dialogue.
Make sure it is easy for consumers to buy from you. Where possible use a ‘buy now’ button, and have a great landing page that captures information from clients who are warm leads. This is relevant for your website and your social platforms.
Facebook is still a mainly business to consumer platform, with the average B2C business having twice as many Likes as B2B. But given the great interactive nature of Facebook and its multimedia portal, it is essential for all businesses to use it to engage with their audiences.
It provides a complimentary tool to your website. Your website is static, formal and a provider of information on what you do. Facebook can be used to provide pre and after-sales service, share good news stories, display pictures, highlight events and so on. Facebook is easy to customise so you can add Apps for functionality, such as Payvment which enables you to sell through Facebook, or Branch Out that makes it into a mini Linked In. Facebook have introduced over 60 Apps with the launch of its Timeline feature so the possibilities are ever expanding.
Across all your media as said earlier, it is critical that you capture details of your prospects via an email newsletter sign up page. This data can then be used for email campaigns that provide a mix of content that help push prospects further down the sales funnel. E newsletters should have a mix of content that helps drive the decision making process such as answering key questions or overcoming objections
After this process has been established, those that reach this stage will then be ready to enter the more traditional sales process and you will be nearer to closing a sale.
It is not possible to cover individual strategies for each platform in this Blog. Linked In and Twitter are quite streamlined and easy to get to grips with. So if you are new, start with Twitter and if you are B2B get a Linked In account. I can guide you through how to use these quite quickly
For Facebook, this is a lot more complex because it has more functionality. Contact me for assistance if you need to develop in this area.
If you want to contact me privately or ask any questions then please visit my North West Marketing Hub.