Social Media Marketing – Establishing Connections

Social media marketing is a powerful tool that enables you to form personal connections with potential consumers, vividly capture their attention and indirectly market your product or service. Subtlety is key – social media can strongly promote your domain and enhance your Internet presence, however, you will not make connections by using ‘hard sell’ techniques.

The general idea behind social media marketing is to help and inform the consumer and then expose them gently to your indirect marketing concept. There are several strategies that you can implement in order to establish a genuine personal connection with users so that you can indirectly market your product and encourage the expansion of Internet traffic. These include:

  • Providing useful, accurate and relevant information
  • Entertaining and amusing the user
  • Explore social issues and current events
  • Genuinely reviewing a product, service, location or experience

How Does Social Media Marketing Work?

In order to raise your online profile and create a strong domain presence you may wish to consider Social Media Marketing. This digital marketing strategy has recently exploded onto the Internet scene and now the majority of companies devote a significant portion of their marketing budget to this highly effective advertising strategy.

Connecting with users can take place through a diverse range of media sharing and social network contexts for example –

  • Twitter
  • Blogs
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Facebook
  • Myspace

By creating an online community, it is possible to establish virtual connections with an enormous network of potential clients and customers. Let’s take a look at two specific examples.

Twitter – Establish Trust and Interest

Microblogging is an extremely short blog that is restricted in length. This forces the tweet to contain maximum information in the fastest time possible. You must not exceed 140 characters. Tweets should be short, punchy and compelling in order to capture the interest of your target audience. Don’t try to instantly sell your business concept, build a following, create an interesting series of tweets and then gradually mention your product after you have established trust and interest. People really do resent the hard sell approach, so the idea here is ‘softly, softly’. You are not purely advertising, you are informing and entertaining online users and simultaneously promoting your product.

YouTube – A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. It is likely that the majority of the 1 billion Internet users available globally have used YouTube. It is a virtual melting pot of information and entertainment. People watch videos containing music, entertainment, news, ‘how to’ procedures, product reviews – basically the content is unlimited in its scope. You really can YouTube anything. Because many people are visual learners, it is a highly effective method of learning a procedure or process. For example, you wish to sell motor oil online. You may create an informative YouTube video entitled ‘How to Perform an Oil Change’.

  • Create a short video filming someone performing an oil change and giving instructions verbally.
  • Insert a link to your domain.
  • Place you URL in the description box of your video clip.
  • Wear a T-Shirt advertising your website while performing the oil change.
  • People will watch the video and follow your link to your e-commerce venture selling motor oil.
  • Alternatively, you may do a short product review and simultaneously promote your service.

This form of social media marketing is underpinned by the concept of a mutually beneficial relationship. You impart wisdom or practical advice to the consumer and they become aware of your business.

A final word… There are many different forms of social media marketing out there and it is well worth exploring all available options and dedicating some of your advertising budget to take advantage of the potential. If you are blogging, tweeting or video sharing focus on creating an online virtual community, establish mutually beneficial relationships, create trust and genuinely help and inform your potential consumers. Get the users interested, make them want to come back to your social media zones and in the process tempt them to take a look at your business. It truly is a ‘win win’ situation.

12 Social Media Rules of Engagement for Small Businesses

Promoting your business on social media can be helpful in extending your brand, gaining visibility, and building relationships with your customers. Done right, it can be an inexpensive way to market your company.

But too many times I see companies plastering up a Facebook page just because everyone else is doing it. Or, they shoot out a few tweets and after a few days or weeks give up because no one is paying attention.

Is social media the right tool for your business? Here are some guidelines to help you use social media as a strategic marketing tool:

  1. Have a purpose. Like any other marketing strategy, social media should be a tool that helps you meet a goal. You wouldn’t just go out and start buying ads without knowing what you want to accomplish, so don’t do it with social media. It might not cost anything to start a Facebook page, but there is a cost in time and that’s also a valuable resource.
  2. Don’t sell. Social media is social. People use it to relate to one another and just like you wouldn’t walk into a party and start pitching your wares, you shouldn’t hard-sell on social media, either. There are ways to get people talking about your products or services, but you have to tread softly or risk losing your audience.
  3. Be prepared to invest time and effort into your social media marketing. You will need to understand your target audience and how best to approach them. You need to understand what interests them, and know what it is you have to say that is valuable to that audience. Don’t post or tweet just to do it – make sure you have something to say or you will quickly be dropped by your readers.
  4. Understand social media and use it yourself. There is no better way to understand Yelp, Chime In, Twitter, etc. than to participate and use them regularly.
  5. Tie your efforts together and integrate them with your overall marketing strategy. You should not be doing something completely different online than you are doing offline. Avoid the split personality – don’t try to be hip and cool online if you are a traditional, conservative business offline. You risk damaging your brand and alienating online audiences who can see right through that.
  6. Keep up with the changes. New sites are emerging all the time. Auction sites, gaming sites, photo sharing and music sharing – they are all expanding their focus to include building communities. Some of those communities are bound to include potential customers.
  7. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, find someone who can. Often companies have younger employees who are well versed in social media and could, with guidelines, represent the company. There are many agencies that will help you with this.
  8. Have guidelines. This ties in with #1because your guidelines will be driven by your purpose. Establish guidelines for anyone posting on behalf of the company about what they can and cannot say. If you don’t want to put pricing on social media, say so. Be clear about what employees can post on their personal sites, as well.
  9. Monitor constantly. Many experts in the field recommend that you start your social media adventure by listening first. Find out what your customers and others might be saying about you online. Once you are active in social media, be sure to set up Google Alerts and other tracking to monitor what is being said.
  10. React but don’t overreact. If you see something posted about your company online that you don’t like, feel free to respond. But don’t get overly emotional about it, and don’t fire back. Respond with basic facts and a real desire to solve the customer’s problems – that will gain you a lot of credibility from anyone else who sees the exchange. And remember, one complaint is just one complaint, so don’t overreact.
  11. Enjoy it. This is a new way to engage your customers and draw in new customers. People of every age are participating in social media, from teenagers to grandmothers, and it is a growing part of our culture. As you bring your business into the discussion, you may find raving fans who will provide recommendations for you.
  12. Online marketing is a tool – it doesn’t replace your other marketing efforts. Sure, a lot of what used to be advertised in print media is now online. But there is still an important role for all of the other marketing tools including public relations, direct mail and advertising. Like your toolbox, each tool has a different purpose and you wouldn’t use a hammer to sand wood. Online (or inbound) marketing is a great resource that is very cost effective for businesses, but it must be a part of the larger marketing strategy or it will fail.

Converting Social Media Leads Into Sales

You have gotten your social media campaign underway. You’ve built up a healthy fan base and engage frequently with many followers. Now what? Once you have gotten yourself into a routine with your social networks, it is a good time to start focusing your efforts on turning those followers and fans into customers!

The great thing about social networking is that it gives you an inside look at what people want. When you have a strong following, you have a ready-to-go marketing panel that you can bounce ideas off of and receive feedback from – without the cost of having it done by someone else.

Unlike some companies that rely on cold-calls to generate a few interested leads, you have a community of fans who are ready to find out more about your new products and services. That means, you’re already on the winning side of the battle! Your foot is in the door and all you have to do is wow the customer.

Let’s go over a few tips that will help you prepare for the conversion of your followers to customers:

Understand the Full Process

With social media, you have the advantage of showing your wares to potential customers before your competitors do. That means, you have more opportunities to convert in comparison to more traditional sales processes. You are essentially gaining exposure, influencing and engaging with customers before they must take action.

Streamline the Path Between Fan and Customer

You want the process for buying to be as easy as possible for your potential customers. Don’t make your customers look too hard to make a purchase from you. Online shoppers have a short attention span, so if the path to buy is not immediately clear, they will quickly move on to someone else. On your Facebook Page, for example, make a tab that lets your fans make a purchase right there. Make sure that each post has a call to action that will encourage your fans to make a purchase.

Allow for Soft Lead Conversion

Not every fan is going to be ready to buy right away. Make it easy for the interested person to become an email subscriber. You will be able to build up an emailing list, which is a valuable source for leads. If he or she likes your content enough to sign up for your emails, then it won’t take much more for them to decide they like a product you offer and make a purchase.

Use Different Methods for Social Media Leads

If you are operating both a traditional and a social media campaign for your business, you need to treat each lead differently. Don’t give your social network followers the same email full of the information they have already read about on your latest post. They want to read fresh, interesting content that will induce them to make a purchase. Answer questions that typically arise about your product. This will take a fan from a soft lead to a hard lead. Hard leads are one step closer to making a purchase, giving you a better chance for making a sale.

You want to cultivate a relationship with your followers. Then, when they are ready to buy, they will come to you instead of a competitor.

Track Your Outcome

It is important to measure your results in order to help pinpoint where your leads are in the conversion process. This can be done with Google analytics, which lets you track the links you post on social sites.

Have you started to convert your followers to sales? What steps have you taken to make your efforts successful? Are there some things you still need help with in this process? Share with us!