What is Social Media Marketing?

Social Media Marketing is the process of gaining traffic or attention through the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linked In.  The goal of Social Media Marketing is to increase brand exposure through the use of curated content.  This content can be original or shared related content from other sources.

What is the benefit of Social Media Marketing?

As a marketing tool, Social Media Marketing has numerous benefits to your business.  Most of these benefits are in the area of branding your business.  These benefits include:

  • Increased Brand Awareness
  • Generate Inbound Traffic
  • Improve Search Engine Rankings
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction
  • Improved Brand Loyalty
  • Brand Authority
  • Control the online “voice” and “culture” of your brand

What sort of things can I expect from a Social Media Marketing Campaign?

The most important thing when it comes to starting a Social Media Marketing campaign, or any project, is the expectations.  Setting these expectations are a vital part of starting and maintaining a campaign without setting yourself up for disappointment or failure.

Social Media Marketing will make your brand visible – “Viral” is a term that gets thrown around and that is the hope, but no one can plan for a post or a brand to “go viral”.

The expectation may be that based on all of the awesome content you’re producing, it’s only a matter of time before those contact forms are flying in! A strong Social Media Marketing campaign will lead to increased traffic directly from the social media platforms as well as direct and organic search traffic.  This traffic is generally seen to be people who are “information gathering” and may not be ready to commit as, often, social media is either the first time a person is interacting with your brand or they have just been reminded of your brand after being exposed to it via another marketing effort such as radio.  Most people who shop for product or services tend to more research than others, so gaining a sale or a contact is not expected through social media.  The conversion is the click itself, not the steps after that.

The expectation of Facebook ads, or social media advertising, or paid social, is that this will lead to more conversions or even sales. In reality, social media, whether organic or paid is a “long-game”.  The goal of Social Media Marketing is branding and exposure.  Paid social guarantees additional exposure, but it does not guarantee conversions.

Can you generate ROI from a Social Media Marketing Campaign?

You can absolutely generate an ROI, however you have to understand what the proper expectations and goals are for a Social Media Marketing campaign.  The first step of generating an ROI is set up your goals.  In a Social Media Marketing campaign, these goals include:

  • Page Likes or New Followers
  • Post Likes
  • Website page views of a certain length of time
  • Click through
  • Video views
  • Email list sign-ups
  • Contact form inquiries
  • Trials
  • Purchases
  • Downloads of a whitepaper or ebook
  • Application Install

For each of these goals, monetary values would have to be assigned.  Once a monetary value is assigned, ROI is matter of the simple formula of ROI = (return-investment)/investment.

My personal view of the success of a Social Media Marketing campaign is that the numbers of likes, follows, clicks, views, etc. are not only very important, but what social media is all about.  I do not assign values as these values are not only subjective, but they change from client to client based on numerous factors.  The view of success of social media is in the objective ongoing reporting and comparing traffic and metrics month over month and year over year taking into account several factors including seasonal variables, events, specials, and any other out of the ordinary events that take place, including the possibility of something “going viral”.

Social Media Marketing is the long-game.  It is a slow boil.  You can drive yourself crazy watching every click and tracking every person who likes your page or your post, but no single like is going to make or break your campaign.  Social Media Marketing is about exposure to your brand.  It is the continued exposure to quality content that gets people interested and will ultimately lead to sales, conversions, or clients.  Social Media is not a quick-fix or a magic bullet.  Social Media is not about “a post today, a phone call tomorrow.”

When asked what makes a quality social media campaign, my answer is “quality content, consistency, and patience”.

The Internet is Forever

Social-Media-Footprint

Every social media post leaves a lasting impression. Status updated, tweets and retweets, and even articles we like all become part of our social media footprint.  Now more than ever, we need to be careful about the digital footprint we leave behind.  Because once it’s out there, it’s out there in some form or another, FOREVER.

Your digital footprint tells the story of who you are…and more importantly, how you seem to others.  If you are only posting positive, upbeat posts then the world will be under the impression that you are a happy, well-adjusted person. Who doesn’t love watching kittens snuggling with baby squirrels!   If you tweet irate, profanity laced rants that will be your online persona.  Neither of these may be true, but that is how it will come across.

A Social Media Post Can Change Your Life, and Not for the Better

A Florida middle school teacher, Dayanna Volitich, ran a white nationalist podcast.  She changed her name but posted her picture and even discussed hiding her racist views from other teachers, administrators and parents with the intent to covertly spread her message to future generations.  She deleted the posts after the story broke.  However, since it was posted on many major news sites, that legacy will live on.   As of March 5, 2018, Mrs. Volitich has been removed from her classroom.

You may think it’s no big deal to post drunken pictures of yourself posing with giant pot plants you have grown yourself on Instagram or Snapchat, (#expertgardener). And your friends may agree with you.  If you ever want a respectable job with a company that has a working computer, think twice before posting it.  The average millennial will take 25,700 selfies throughout their lives, according to a 2015 study by Luster Premium White, a Boston-based maker of teeth-whitening products.  Whether you modify and perfect each image, or just snap and post, those pictures are declaring who you are!  Nobody wants their kindergarten teacher, daycare worker, or even executive assistant to be an alcoholic exhibitionist.  This is what that topless Mardis Gras picture you posted says about you.

Watch Your Selfies, You Are Your Own Brand

Author Martha Collier, whom Forbes listed as one of the Top women social influencers, suggests that even though selfies might seem eccentric or narcissistic, people should put serious thought into the selfies and other social media commentary they post.  Collier said every individual should consider himself or herself a brand when it comes to social media.

Aside from the obvious social and economic effects your digital foot print can have for you, consider that law enforcement will absolutely use technological resources to catch criminals in the act.  Entire units are now devoted to tracking down sex criminals, drug traffickers, and even minor parole violators.  Similarly, if you are thinking of claiming an injury for the purposes of claiming insurance or workman’s comp, its best not to post pictures or status updates referencing your “epic” ski trip or European backpacking trip.

Think Before You Post, Especially When Kids Are Involved

These are lessons we should teach our children and also practice for their sake.  Think before you post a picture of your child, “is this something I would want a stranger to get a hold of?”  Will my child be happy with me when they grow up and this is out there?  If you wouldn’t want your information shared with the world, how is it fair to your kid to post ANYTHING about them before they are old enough to give permission.  Consider that the combination of photos and comments give children an identity.  That identity can leave an impression for others even if the child does not have a social media account.  A survey of 2,000 parents by The Parent Zone showed the average parent will post nearly 1,000 photos of their child online before the child is 5 years old, according to Market Watch.

The Internet has made sharing yourself with others so simple. It’s easy to forget that it is a created reality.  You only have control BEFORE you hit send, or post, and then it is out there forever.  Taking an extra second to consider “Is this something that will prevent me from having the life I want?” is just common sense.  So, take a deep breath before you post that picture of you streaking down main street with nothing but your purple sneakers…especially if you think you might like any career in law enforcement someday.

Likes and Follows Are Not Meaningless

We get into discussions about “Likes” and “Follows” quite often.  There is a thought that Likes is a meaningless number.  This is just not true.

Likes Do Not Equal Conversions

When people say that Likes are meaning, they mean that Likes does not directly lead to conversions.  This is absolutely true.  You cannot look at the amount of likes you have on your Facebook page and make any assumptions about the number of sales you made.

As social media managers, we like to see Likes and Follows for a few reasons.  One reason is that it tells us that the message being delivered is interesting to people.  Our goal is make our client’s social media feeds relevant, fun, and interesting enough that they want to see more.

If people click the Like button it means that they found something interesting or fun enough to want to see more.  The more people that like a page, the more people who have the chance to see posts organically.  The more people who see the posts means more chances for people to interact with or share the posts.  When their friend see your content, they will then hopefully find it interesting as well.  Ultimately, the more people that Like and see a post, the greater the chances are that people will click through become a sale, which is the overall goal!

Likes and Follows have to be Organic and Good Quality

Since more Likes and Follows are good, does that mean we go out and buy Likes?  No.  This will undermine your online strategy.  Likes have to build up organically or through directed advertising.  The people who Like your page also have to be demographically and geographically relevant to the business.  If you are a local New York business but most of your likes are coming from California, then they aren’t going to be able to help you.

As we said, the best growth is organic growth of good quality people.  If you get people in your area and demographic to like or follow  your page, the social media platform will take notice. They may even start to show your page to their friends as a suggested page. This will lead to more organic growth, which leads to more people seeing your page and your posts.

If you go out and buy likes, you will see your numbers go up, but these are likes of accounts who may not even be real people.  They are likes that have no chance to lead to a conversion or to even more likes.  It is purely cosmetic to be able to say that you have all of these likes.  The issue is that you can lose all of those likes just as quickly.  A sharp decline in likes can be devastating to  your reach since now you have a much lower chance of being shown to anyone organically. Your account can even be flagged as showing suspicious activity.

Your online presence is a vital aspect of your business and you want to have a good following, but it takes time to build.  You can’t cheat your way to high number.  In the end a following that grows slow and steady is a following that will be there for a long time, and those people have the greatest chance of becoming a customer.  When it comes to your online presence, one piece of advice we give to everyone is to have patience.  Nothing happens overnight.

The Difference Between Social Media and an Online Presence

You need a solid online presence before you can dive into Social Media

It is important to define some terms before we start to talk about Social Media and an Online Presence.  These are terms that some will think are interchangeable.  Social Media refers to something very specific.  When we talk about Social Media we are talking about one of several platforms where ideas are presented. You are looking to start a conversation. At the least, you are hoping for some form of interaction such as a click on a link or an image, or liking or following a page or a post.  A social media post is the most intimate form of online communication in that you post something hoping for an immediate reaction.  Social Media is a very small subset of the whole when we discuss someone’s Online Presence.

Online Presence is anything and everything that is digital from your domain name, including your website and email, social media, blogs, online shop, online sweepstakes, email blasts, digital advertising and any number of other things you can think of that lives on the internet.

Being a social media manager, we would focus on that limited aspect of your online presence.  However, if you don’t have several pieces in place, your social media is not going to have a strong impact.  We once described social media as the 4th domino.  In order for you to effectively knock over that 4th domino, you have to make sure the first 3 are lined up properly.

As a marketing company, we sit down to discuss what your goals are.  What can we do to help you advance your sales or reach? How can we utilize the power of the internet to grow your business and your brand?  If you jump right to social media, you are missing out on some of the most important aspects of not only online marketing, but some of the most important aspects of your overall presence.

When someone walks into the room and instantly commands the room and the audience, that person has incredible presence.  Does your online presence announce authority?  Are you telling people that you are the person that they need to buy their widgets from?  Or are you just one of the crowd?  No one ever recommended an average doctor.  No one cares to talk about their mediocre mechanic.  Just like the person who owns the room the second they walk in; your online presence has to announce that you are here and you are ready to do business.

The Main Purpose of Advertising

The main goal of advertising is not what you think.

As long as people were making products, advertising people have been there to tell them how to sell.  Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters. Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii and Arabia. Lost and found advertising on papyrus was common in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Wall or rock painting for commercial advertising is another manifestation of an ancient advertising form. These are present to this day in many parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

In ancient China, the earliest advertising known was oral, using bamboo flutes to sell candy.

Ruby and Matt, people behind Stone Media Consulting, have 40+ years of marketing and advertising experience.  As marketers and advertisers, it is important to set expectations of the people who trust us with getting their names and products out into the world.  The goal of every advertiser is to sell their product or service.  It is why people are in business.  Without sales, the doors close for good.

Recognition and Trust

It is important to understand what the main goal of advertising is, and oddly enough, it is not to sell.

The main goal is to call the public’s attention to your business, product or service for the purpose of selling.  There is a very slight but distinct difference between selling and promoting for the purpose of selling.

Promoting your business makes your customers aware of your product or service.  The message you send attempts to convince customers that your product or service is right for their needs.  It creates a desire for your product.

If you look at some of the best and most effective ads out there, look at what the message is.  The message is there to enhance a company’s image, announce new products or services, and reinforces other sales messages, such as bill boards that support a new television campaign.

Ads draws potential consumers to your business and if there is a strong call-to-action, the advertisement, it invites the consumer to take the next step, such as call now, or request a sample, etc.

Advertising has been around for as long as it has because it works incredibly well, but there is an art to it.  It takes planning and strategy.  You don’t just put out an ad that says BUY THIS NOW!  It is vital to build a relationship with the consumer.  You must gain their trust and let them know why your product is the one they need.  With social media, the public has never been more accessible.  People are there waiting to interact.

Advertising has also never been as complex.  With traditional ads like TV, Radio or print, you place the ad, and it is out there, but with digital, it is interactive.  You are going to hear back from people and if you message is bad, they have no problem with letting you know.  Advertising costs on social media are incredible affordable for small business and startups that could not afford the price tags associated with traditional advertising, but just because you can do something easily, it does not mean you should just jump it.  Regardless of the medium, advertising takes planning, nuance and experience.