According to a recent survey of marketers, 92% see social media as “very important” for their business. What’s more, those with greater experience of leveraging social media tend to spend more time using it – 64% spend more than six hours per week marketing products and services via social media platforms.
The unique interactive nature of social media brings clear measurable benefits, including brand exposure, demonstrably loyal customers, increased sales, valuable partnerships, lead generation, lower spend on marketing activities, more traffic to the business website (plus improved page rankings on search engines).
If you’re selling anything online, it’s essential that you understand the basics of what social media marketing strategy can do for your sales… A 2-way conversation. The most important feature of marketing via social media is that it’s not a presentation, it’s a dialog. You need to pay attention to your target customers’ online contributions, listen to what they’re saying, and learn what’s important to them. Then you can craft and target your own contributions accordingly. Furthermore, 2-way means:
Responding to anyone who approaches you directly, tags you, links to your site, etc.
Being available – publish material, comment, reply, and once in a thread or conversation, either stay with
it until it’s finished or let people know you’re leaving and why.
Share content posted by others – after all, do as you would be done by.
Narrow your focus. As a basic principle, don’t try to sell everything to everybody. Tailor your social media efforts to cater to niche markets and particular groups of people. That way, you build a reputation for expertise
and are associated strongly with that niche.
The secret is sharing.
Publish good quality content and links, build a list of truly interested followers and connections and watch them share your content in ever-increasing ripples, with the possibility of going viral. What’s more, sharing like this creates ever more points across the web for Google and other search engines to find your content, leading to higher page rankings and more opportunities for interested potential customers to arrive at your virtual door.
More than half of all US residents now have a Facebook account (with the average person having more than 100 FB friends). This offers unparalleled opportunities for sharing information about your products and services. For every completed sale, your site should at least prompt the buyer to share the news of their purchase (either by Facebook or Twitter, still the two most popular platforms). One incentive is to offer discounts for future purchases with a short expiry date and encourage customers to share the discount with friends and contacts.
Numbers are not important.
Quality is the thing. A relatively short list of followers and connections that are genuinely interested in what you offer and open to sharing it with their networks is far better than an artificially-inflated ‘friends’ roster, few of whom actually pay attention to what you are posting.
Speak when you have something to say.
Don’t contribute for the sake of contributing, wait until you have something genuinely useful to post otherwise people soon stop paying attention. Focus on adding value to online conversations and the sales will follow.
Networking and partnership.
Looks for other influential figures and businesses in your market niche; those with good quality audiences and whose focus is compatible rather than competitive with your own. Engage, reach out, and start interacting. Build a relationship and explore the possibilities for partnership, content sharing and mutual endorsements.