Social media marketing is an inexpensive yet very powerful tool for content marketing. It helps you build a loyal audience that grows your business. Use this guide to learn what social media marketing is and how you can use it to build a successful business.
Social media marketing is an effective method of generating website traffic through social media sites.
It’s about creating valuable content that catches people’s attention and encourages them to share it with their social connections.
Social media is not new. It has been around for decades. But, the rise of social media sites has seen a tremendous surge over the last 10 years.
Today, social media has become an indispensable part of all serious online marketing campaigns.
What is Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing involves marketing products or services using social media. Unlike traditional marketing, you do not begin with your sales pitch right away. Instead, you build rapport with people before you start selling them anything.
Effective social media marketing focuses on building a community of engaged people who love you, follow you, buy from you, spread the word about your business and ultimately grow your business.
Social media marketing takes time, energy and careful planning. It’s less like running a sprint and more like running a marathon. So before you dive in, prepare yourself for the amount of energy it needs to bring fruitful results.
Let’s have a look at what social media is.
What is Social Media
Social media is a way for people to interact online. They stay in touch with one another using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and many other social media sites.
Social media is called so because people communicate with one another in a social context using conversations, comments and other means of interactions.
For businesses, social media has turned out to be no less than a magic wand. People today are sharing more information than ever on social media sites, which is helping businesses identify their target audience better and market their products and services effectively.
Is Social Media just a Hype
Social media is not a fad. In fact, it is extremely valuable.
Over the last 10 years, the Web has seen a tremendous growth in the development and popularity of social media sites. Millions of people get online and interact with one another using social media every day!
The stats (as of October, 2014) below clearly show some social media muscles.
- A whopping 93% of shopping decisions made by people are influenced by social media
- About 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations
- 89% of 18-29 year olds are on a social network
- Facebook has over 1.32 billion monthly active users
- Over 9 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month
- 1 in 5 young adults (18-24) uses Twitter everyday
- Twitter has over 271 million monthly active users
- Google+ sees more than 540 million active users each month
- Every second 2 new members join LinkedIn
- A total of 67% bloggers operate more than one blog
- Women (18-29) are the power users of the Web
- Women check out a brand page more often than men
- YouTube serves more than 1 billion unique visitors every month
You cannot ignore the power of social media, especially if you are serious about running a successful business online.
Does your Company need Social Media
Yes, it does. Regardless of how small or large your company is, social media can help you grow your business because your customers are online.
They are looking for information and recommendations. They are interacting with their friends, colleagues, experts and other brands to obtain enough information to make the right choice.
Well, because they want to be smart buyers.
And you can help them become smart buyers by listening to them. Answer their questions. Provide them the information they are looking for and you can pretty much attract them to your site.
Top Social Media Platforms
People today hang out on a variety of social media platforms. Knowing the best places to promote your business is the first step towards getting remarkable results. Take a look at the top social media platform below to know what makes each platform special.
With over 1.32 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become the world’s largest social network. If you are not on Facebook, you are missing a lot, especially if you own a business.
10 years ago when Facebook made its debut in 2004, it was a no-frills network allowing college students to connect with one another.
Today, billions of people are using Facebook to connect with friends and the world around them, and businesses are using it to build a closer relationship with their audience and customers.
Twitter is great for sharing announcements, events and promotions. With 271 million+ monthly active users and 500 million+ tweets sent per day, Twitter is a perfect platform for generating brand awareness.
Back in the year 2006, Twitter made its debut as a service that let users send short (up to 140 characters long) messages to a group of people. Its intended use was to keep friends and colleagues informed about their daily activities.
Little did everyone know that Twitter would transform into a powerful tool for online marketing one day.
With over 540 million monthly active users and the fact that Google favours Google+ pages in search results, it would be silly not to use Google+ to connect with your prospects and customers.
When it made its first appearance back in 2011, SEO experts were the first ones to use it. People believed that Google+ was basically a technical platform meant to be used by techies and men alone.
Today, Google+ has more than 1.6 billion total users including an impressive ratio of men and women.
Every second two new members join LinkedIn. Google generally reports LinkedIn company pages within the top 1-2 pages of search results. Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies are on LinkedIn. The time is just right to take your business to LinkedIn.
It is a great platform for generating B2B leads.
People as colleagues use LinkedIn to stay connected with one another and businesses use it to connect with current and potential stakeholders and employees.
Pinterest has attracted 70 million+ users in less than 4 years. Approx. 80% of these users are women. Moreover, the world’s top brands are on Pinterest. There is no reason why you should underestimate Pinterest as a powerful social media marketing tool.
The fact that one of five people on Pinterest has purchased something they have seen on the site makes Pinterest an ideal place for promoting your products or services.
If your business can benefit from image sharing and storytelling, Pinterest is for you.
Which Social Media Platform is Best for You
The one your customers hang out on.
Identify your main business objectives and target customer demographics and you can find the right social network for you.
Here are two examples to simplify the process.
Example 1: If your business objective is to increase sales for beauty products for women, your target customer demographics may include women between the age of 18 and 40. As you are going to focus on women alone, choosing Pinterest is the best choice as over 80% of Pinterest users are women.
Example 2: If your business objective is to deliver topic-based news or timely insights, your target customer demographics may include information-hungry people who remain online throughout most of their lives. Twitter is an ideal choice for you as it lets you respond to and engage with your followers.
Need a shortcut? Turn to Facebook. Why? With over 1.32 billion monthly active users and with an almost equal ratio of men and women as users, Facebook is ideal for just about any business.
YouTube marketing campaigns provide remarkable results, and the success stories of Old Spice, Zappos, Dove and Lay’s prove it. Over 6 billion hours of video is watched every month on YouTube. Chances are your customers are watching YouTube videos. Amaze them today.
YouTube has become the top source of video entertainment on the Web. Users are watching and sharing YouTube videos at an unbelievable speed.
An effective blog can drive torrents of traffic to your main website. People love to read blogs because blogs have an informal, conversational style. A blog is a powerful tool for building brand awareness and boosting sales.
The best part is that you don’t need to be a techie to start and run a blog.
There are many different blogging platforms available including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Typepad, Quora and many more.
Not only are these blogging platforms easy to use but also contain a lot of help and support material which can turn you into an ace blogger if you devote enough time regularly.
That’s not all Folks!
The social networking sites discussed here are not the only places for people to interact and businesses to connect with consumers and prospects.
Besides these social networks, there are:
Perhaps the oldest form of social media, Forums are pretty effective at building communities and providing timely information. When run effectively, Forums can turn out to be a reliable source of traffic.
- Social bookmarking services
Social bookmarks are identical to the bookmarks you have stored on your computer for your favourite sites. The only difference is that social bookmarks are publically visible. StumbleUpon, Delicious, Kaboodle and ThisNext are some popular social bookmarking services.
- Social news services
These services allow you to build peer-based lists of recommended articles from across the Internet. Users often vote on the value of postings. Digg and Reddit are the two most popular social news services.
- Question and answer based social networks
People often turn to question and answer based social networks when they need quick answers for their issues. This is an ideal place to connect with people and make them aware of what you do. Quora and Yahoo Answers are two such networks that are very popular.
- Picture sharing services
These services let you tell your story through pictures and short videos. Instagram is one such service. There are more than 200 million Instagram users who contribute towards posting more than 55 million photos every day. Although it’s Facebook’s baby now but you can’t ignore its potential.
Social Media Marketing Best Practices
Social media is all about building and engaging a community. Yes, it is a perfect platform for rolling out promotional updates but that should not be the first and only thing on your agenda.
Effective social media marketing demands that you do not rush towards closing a sale.
Focus on building relationships with your audience. Keep them delighted and they will start loving your brand.
Pros and Cons of Using Social Media
Social media is simple, useful and very effective. But at the same time, it has some drawbacks that you can’t ignore.
- Lets you quickly reach your target audience
- Makes branding simple and effective
- Helps build relationships with your audience
- Improves search engine rankings
- Generates site traffic
- Saves you money on advertising
- Takes time, a lot of time
- May require different strategies when a network updates
Over to you…
Social media is evolving day by day. Therefore, creating a Definitive Guide to Everything You Ever Need to Know about Social Media Marketing, Ever is not possible.
We will keep updating this guide as and when something worth mentioning here comes up. Till then, use it to harness the power of social media to grow your business.
Thanks for reading. We hope you found it valuable! :)
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