Online ads are not the only method of reaching potential customers via the internet. In fact, many experts argue online ads don’t deliver the return on investment that businesses expect for several reasons:
- Hiding Out: Internet browsers now offer users multiple ways to automatically hide ads.
- Pay Per Click: Pay per click ads don’t necessarily translate into lead generation or more importantly a sales transaction.
- The “Ignore” Factor: Studies show that consumers tend to ignore searches highlighted as ads.
As an alternative, marketing and public relations experts are increasingly relying on social media as a way to reach, attract and capture customers. Social media is very different from direct advertising or sales promotion which is a one-way, outbound communication. Social media is all about engagement and creating a communication comprised of outbound dialogue and encouraging inbound responses.
Rules of Engagement
There are several rules of engagement that any social media campaign should embrace.
Ask questions. Pose thought provoking ideas. Point out the interesting and compelling. Your message may not even pertain to business per se.
Use a friendly approach and “voice” to encourage your audience to enter a discussion or give their points of view.
Respond quickly. Thank customers for their comments. Address negative opinions and complaints. The world of social media is exploding, with new apps and platforms seemingly appearing each week. However, any viable social media campaign should include the big two of Facebook and Twitter.
The key to Facebook marketing success is to get people to “Like” your business page. This is an effective social media platform for both business-to-business and consumer marketing. Once a potential customer “Likes” your page he or she will receive all Facebook updates on his or her timeline. Make sure messages are interesting, helpful and relevant. Don’t post purely for the sake of posting. A fan can just as easily “Unlike” your page after the fact. Using the calendar feature, businesses can keep repeat, new and prospective customers apprised of upcoming events, sales and promotions.
Like Facebook, the key to success with Twitter is to get customers to “Follow” your business. Tweets are allowed to be only 140 characters long so messages need to be short and to the point, but interesting. Ideally, tweets would lead followers back to your website where they can get more in-depth information on your products and services. If you notice certain posts seem to inspire followers to “Retweet” or pass your message on to their personal list of followers you know you’ve hit a winning theme. The same is true of “Shares” on Facebook.
Another way to enhance your marketing as well as your social media is through philanthropic promotions. Sponsor nationwide walks for cancer awareness or the American Heart Association. If you have a local business, sponsoring ball teams and community endeavors are all great ways to get noticed and gain customer loyalty. As an added benefit, these events give you plenty to discuss in your social media.
Writing about related topics in a blog and publishing it on WordPress is a great way to increase your Search Engine Optimization, traffic to your website as well as to subtly promote your business. Customers can also choose to add your blog to their RSS feeds so they are alerted each time you post a blog.
All in all, using social media effectively for your business can seem a daunting task. However, the potential reward in pursuing these endeavors will prove worthwhile as you see your internet presence increase and begin to reap monetary gains for your company.