Most marketers get social media wrong. Especially those that have been around the block a few times and know a thing or two about marketing. But why?
It’s not that they don’t get social media, and it’s not that they don’t know what it’s about or how to use it. Indeed, I don’t know a marketer who doesn’t have their own personal and business social media profiles and I know that the ones I follow tweet, post status updates, like and +1. And, many seem to be understanding that the content a business shares on social media needs to be audience centric instead of brand centric. You will find that marketers actually know a lot about the workings of social media and need very little explaining to them.
But they’re still getting it very wrong.
Let’s get something straight. Social media is a critical medium via which businesses can communicate with consumers and previous customers to drive sales. In fact, a strong social media presence is a more pressing need than ever with the vast growth in smartphone and tablet ownership and the now widespread availability of 4G, enabling consumers to easily share huge volumes of content on an array of social media platforms. At present, there are 1.8 billion pictures shared everyday along with 500 million tweets and 4.5 million likes shared by the two billion plus active social media accounts worldwide. According to a recent study, the average user spends 1.72 hours every day on social media platforms, which represents a whopping 28% of all online activity!
So what is it that the marketers haven’t caught on to?
Firstly, they don’t understand why the audience is there. When you think about it, you understand that ranking well in search engine results will work in driving traffic to your website because the audience for search engine results are actively looking for something and if your website provides that something, they’ll click. And if you’ve done a good job on your website, they’ll convert and buy that something too! The ‘searcher’ is already in a buying mode, actively looking for that something. Now, the social media audience is there to be social and engage with other people. They aren’t searching for a product or a service; they’re not even hoping to encounter a business in their time spent on whichever social media platform they’re on. The social media audience is there to interact with their friends, family and other like minded people. Think about it… why do you go on Facebook? To see photos of distant family? To send a joke to your friend? Maybe. But you’re not there to sign up for a newsletter or buy a whatnot, are you?
That way of thinking makes it seem that being present on social media as a business is counter-intuitive because the audience is simply not there to shop or buy. They don’t naturally want to engage with you. But that doesn’t mean they won’t! It doesn’t even mean that you can’t convert them to be customers. It does mean that you have to be clever with what you post and remember that sales via social media won’t happen instantaneously.
A successful business on social media is one that:
- nurtures relationships with existing customers
- develops new ones with prospective customers
- is glad for conversions whenever they happen
- understand that they cannot tie monthly, quarterly, or annual revenue targets to their social media activity because the audience’s needs and motivation is very different
- participates, because they know that not doing so is turning a cold shoulder to the very people they hope will make purchases
Secondly, surely it’s better to focus on engaging your customers with social content on your business’ website rather than keeping those potential clients on social networks. Writing a regular, consistent blog with relevant, engaging content can help you achieve this. (CLICK HERE to see my previous post ‘How to blog in 5 easy steps‘). You can have social comment boxes, share buttons, like and +1 buttons and more present on your website, allowing potential customers to be social about your blog on your site while showing off your expertise in you industry. Remember to interact and engage with them in discussion and include a call to action at the end, and you can direct those potential customers to relevant pages of your website too!
Social media for business is a place to seed content, to generate awareness of campaigns and to provide content to drive traffic to your website. Understanding why the audience is participating on these platforms is fundamental to creating the content you will share and in how to measure its success.
So, how do you compare social media to traditional marketing platforms? If you’re trying to compare like with like, then you might want to rethink things!