Consider a few recent statistics concerning social media marketing.
- The overwhelming majority (97%, up 3% from prior year) of marketers polled in 2013 by Social Media Examiner indicated they are participating in social media marketing.
- 57% of U.S. online adults read blogs. And of that group, two-thirds say “a brand mention or promotion within context of the blog 3 their purchasing decisions.” (New Media and Marketing)
- Social media experts are in demand. Job postings on LinkedIn for social media positions have grown 1,300% since 2010. (The Strategy Web)
- Adding videos to landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90%. (SocialTimes)
Because social media marketing is so inexpensive and social media has been so widely adopted (Facebook now boasts 1.2 Billion users), marketers across all types and sizes of business have embraced it. Traditional media is costly while social is inexpensive. Traditional media is a one-way information push but social media creates opportunities for authentic community exchange. Social media is uniquely measurable; every click gets counted. Traditional media can measure the size of the exposed audience but exposure doesn’t mean attention.
Social media marketing is about facilitating conversations among our target customers and increasing brand and product or service advocacy (net promoter scores). Since these needs span most industries, social media is effective in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets.
Some Not Too Obvious Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Way past being a two-way show and tell system, social media can be used for many more important marketing functions. Among these functions, savvy marketers are using social media to:
- Gain insight on what drives ‘liking’ and ‘preference’ among consumers
- Perform vital customer service functions; to listen to our customers, we marketers need to be where they are (in social networks, on mobile devices).
- 92% of all companies now use social media in their recruiting efforts (sproutsocial.com). Many more companies also report researching the ‘after hours’ behavior, as self-reported on the prospective employee’s social media pages, before extending hire offers.
- Reputation management. Once chiefly a PR function, reputation management has increasingly become a function of social media to keep brand and company reputations positive or perform important spin-control functions when things move in the other direction.
- Generate sales leads – 64% of companies who have spent at least six hours per week on their social media programs have generated sales leads through it.
- Improve search rankings – 62% of all companies reported a rise in their Google rankings.
- Grow partnerships – 62% of companies with social media programs in place for more than three years report having generated important partnerships through it.
- Reduce marketing expenses – More than half of the companies who have spent as little as six hours per week on their social media programs have been able to reduce their overall marketing tab.
No Pain, No Gain!
Social media is a little like weight training. To see the results, you’ve got to do the reps! In the first year of a social media program, most companies spend fewer than five hours per week on it. Then the ‘A-Ha!’ moment hits: with initial results in, companies with at least two years of experience will allocate more time and resources. At this stage, 70% of all companies will increase their resource allocation to at least six hours a week.
A well-developed social media program will be multi-faceted. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea. Google’s algorithms reward marketers who leverage multiple techniques with higher website rankings. Also, since people are becoming more dependent on the internet, different digital platforms provide a greater number of consumer touch-points. These different facets can include online press releases, e-blast campaigns, digital display ads (banner ads etc.), podcasts, webinars, blogs and more.
If you’re thinking about selecting a third-party social media marketing consultant, make sure you find one that can give your brand an air of authority when they write on your behalf. This is especially true for small businesses where what’s really being communicated is a personal brand.
A good partner will share your sense of urgency to respond to customer inquiries. This builds your credibility in the eyes of your customers. Also, partner with someone who can give your brand a ‘thought leader’ perspective.