We are the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ after being brought up alongside advancements in technology and mobile technology. We are connected and through our vast networks we share with others all elements of our daily lives. We explicitly inform those who are in our circles of the good, the bad and the ugly times in our lives. This sharing is not limited to facets of our personal lives albeit our aims are usually to promote ourselves as influencers across social media platforms. No sir, the world of commerce also spreads through all social media platforms thus we share our thoughts and experiences via using and consuming goods and services. Social media marketing is defined as………
Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of Internet marketing that utilizes social networking websites as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach (What Is, 2014)
What is the golden rule with regards to social media marketing?
If I was to describe social media marketing in one word however I would say that it is all about reputation. Think about this for a moment. The world is so connected and news travels fast that it is paramount that an organisation implements an online reputation management plan. Even if a company finds it difficult to measure results with regards to return on investment of their SMM efforts, reputation will always have to be managed effectively. It is the one piece of criteria that needs to be constantly monitored. Companies must recognise this to ensure their company and brands do not build a bad reputation on social media platforms. You can view some companies failures on twitter here and a key point to take away from these failures is to ensure the team in charge of social media spaces are competent with crisis management and know how to generate engaging content. Another . It is crucial to set up a Google alerts to monitor where your name or brand is being spoken of online as well as other tools like twitter search. Before going into depth with social media marketing and how it can be used towards your overall marketing strategy, check out the trends set for 2015 in SMM.
A good reputation is more valuable than money (Publilius Syrus)
Creating tangible results from the intangible……..
The network effects of social media is that platforms like Facebook and Twitter became extremely popular in a short space of time. What did marketers do? They hopped on the social media bandwagon pushing products and aggressively competing against rivals for market share and expand their reach. The social media ethos is to be human. The strategy of simply pushing products through your pages does not work on its own. You need to create engaging content and converse with users of such platforms. How do you know content is engaging? How do you measure effectiveness of posts and campaigns? I am not going to mention all the tools available to monitor and measure. There are so many available (some of which will be free) and a majority of them measure similar aspects with slight differentiations. One area I would recommend measuring is your Share Of Voice (SOV). This measures mentions of your brand versus competitors brands which you can learn more about here. Again, with regards to content you share, you can measure sentiment, albeit, done manually. This will give you a ratio of good, neutral and bad mentions. Google analytic’s, Facebook insights, Twitter analytic’s and Simply Measured analytics are good starting points for measuring efforts on social media platforms. However as pointed out by Miller (2012), do not focus too much on ‘vanity metrics’, instead, look for site stickiness and total page views of your website as well as click-through rate (CTR). This is what you want users of social media sites to do: You want them to be redirected to your very website to conduct purchases.
Social Media Marketing is in many ways different from traditional marketing (creating content, being human and conversing heavily with users). However, the fundamentals of marketing have not changed. Every marketing plan has a social media marketing plan as part of overall marketing strategy. Because users of social media platforms demand new content on a regular basis, I think that a strategy (long-term) is more of a guide line that will direct your company online while social media marketing is more about the tactics that you use to engage with audiences. The SOSTAC model can help you plan your social media strategy. Another useful tool for social media marketing is setting up a Google Calendar for publishing content, shares, Tweeting, Blogging and so on. this will allow your social media marketer to stay on top of all social media platforms effectively be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
To conclude, marketers need to test many social media platforms to see what platforms their target markets and segments are using. Sometimes, a company may find the majority of its audience on Facebook or Twitter while others may find that their audience is a younger demographic thus Instagram is the more widely used platform of their audiences. IKEA have leveraged Instagram in an interesting way by creating a catalogue through the application which you can read more about here. Finding new ways to leverage platforms will help you stand out from competitors. Another interesting concept that you should be looking at with regards to content you share in your marketing efforts in ‘evergreen‘ content (Colligan, 2011) which means that your content has a longer ‘shelf life’ per-say. Finally, Facebook’s new algorithm may force companies to rearrange their paid media arrangement which may have strong implications for smaller organisations with limited marketing budgets.
Remember that social media marketing is not a perfect substitute for traditional marketing. Companies should try and find a perfect ratio to suit their needs.