Social media marketing as a whole has moved far beyond posting a picture to Facebook or plopping some random promo on Twitter. These channels are solid, respected marketing and advertising machines. This is a proven fact, and all forms of digital media deliver reports to measure ROI. So it’s time to stop questioning whether or not social media is here to stay (I can’t believe people still ask me this question!). I think it is safe to say we are, as a culture, in it deep enough that our social personalities and lifestyles are not going away.
I want you to start thinking about the true advertising opportunities that present themselves through social media. I know, I know, you were taught that social media is a community, a sacred place not appropriate for advertising, you can’t just barge in and blast your promotions in with a blow horn (yes, I said these words myself). But we have evolved, naturally, to the reality that these sites present great opportunity to reach eyeballs, and more importantly, social sites need to make money to survive.
Take Facebook as the perfect example of a highly regarded social media network that looked forward to a grand IPO earlier this year, only to fall flat on its face because it didn’t have a revenue-generating business model — at least not a real one, positioned to satisfy Wall Street. This is not to say that participating in social media channels is no longer social — it’s just stating the reality that tossing in some shameless self-promotion is not a deadly sin anymore.
Google+, Twitter, YouTube and the gang are all in the same boat. Money is the name of the game, it always has been and it always will be. This, my friend, presents great opportunity for you as a business owner, so let me help you wade through all the noise to get focused on making a social media advertising model that will work for you.
Determine Marketing Objectives
The first question I always ask clients is, “What are your marketing objectives?” Generally, I get a blank stare, a nervous smile or a quick few words of pure honesty like, “No clue.” Good answer, well, kinda. This tells me we have a clean slate to start with, but it also tells me your head is not in the marketing game, and we’ve got some work to do.
You’re probably thinking, “How can I think about marketing when I am in the weeds all day putting out fires and focused on sales, inventory, budget, staffing and a fistful of other more pressing issues?”
It’s time to make marketing a pressing issue. Marketing drives your business. Marketing creates your brand image. Marketing dictates your reputation in the marketplace. Marketing is not something to be taken lightly, so let’s move it on up to the top of the totem pole of priorities (and please, don’t place your marketing in the hands of some low-paid intern because you’re cheap).
Once you have defined objectives, we need to take a look at what marketing initiatives you’ve tried in the past, what worked, what failed and why. These are all clues to tell us what direction to head in when it comes to social media advertising. For example, if a dealer tells me that service specials have always brought in foot traffic when ads ran in print campaigns, this makes it a no-brainer to try something similar on Facebook.
Facebook: Facebook ads have tremendous reach in comparison to most newspaper or magazines, and targeting for your specific demographic is unreal. We can literally pinpoint a city or county, then narrow down the target by gender, age, education level, and most importantly, categories of interest. A Facebook-targeted audience is composed of users who are most likely to click and convert to sale. Another advertising opportunity to check out is Facebook Offers (similar to Groupon, Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories). Click here to learn more about Facebook ad campaigns.
LinkedIn: A recent study by Hubspot shows LinkedIn blows away Facebook and Twitter on advertising performance — by a whopping 277%! But does it work for B2C businesses? Hubspot says yes since “less content is generally posted to LinkedIn than to other social networks, which is probably because people almost exclusively post marketing-related content as opposed to their children’s photos or social ‘chatter.’” This means there is less clutter on LinkedIn, making a person capable of consuming more active content at any given time. In other words, a business’ marketing posts are more likely to be noticed on LinkedIn than somewhere else.” Click here for more info on LinkedIn advertising.
YouTube: YouTube is hands down the greatest branding tool every created in the history of the world (those who know me know I get quite worked up about YouTube because I have seen it deliver amazing results in my life and business). Just so this part of the column isn’t totally biased to my opinion, I’m going to utilize content direct from YouTube to explain how to start:
Step 1: No need for big-time TV production. Shoot it yourself! Or hire it out. Try a friendly tour of your shop or a how-to video. Just be yourself: it works wonders.
Step 2: Post your video on YouTube (it’s free!) Then use Google AdWords for video to promote it to the right viewers. You’ll only pay when viewers choose to watch your video.
That’s it! What could be easier? Click here to learn more.
Leveraging Your Top Performing Network
Once you find the social media channel that works best for your business, here’s what you need to do to keep performance up:
- Invest time and budget to grow that specific channel.
- Post more of the targeted content that’s working.
- Find more opportunities to post relevant calls-to-action.
- Don’t take success for granted, keep learning.
Good luck, and be sure to send me your success stories!