Social media dialogue has increasingly become an important, cost effective tool to build exposure and connect with new customers. Small businesses typically don’t have large budgets for TV ads or fancy brochures. Rather, they have come to rely on social media as an equalizer. Social media platforms don’t require million dollar ad budgets. Conducting a successful social marketing campaign requires knowing your audience and using creativity to reach them.
Why is a social media strategy important? Because it reaches customers where they spend their time. But just reaching the customer is not enough; it’s imperative to create and sustain a social media dialogue or engage your audience in meaningful dialogue. That means having a conversation with existing and potential customers.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and others now have an estimated 2.4 billion users, according to Statista.com, and eMarketer estimates that 71% of internet users worldwide will use at least one social channel this year. Facebook still has the largest number of social users, while Twitter seems to be losing ground to Instagram among 16-44 year-olds.
Every digital audience can be reached via social media. Although many people may assume that social media users are mostly younger folks, the latest statistics from GlobalWebIndex shows that this is not the case. In fact, 94 percent of adults ages 55-64s are using social media platforms. Overall, one-third of the time people spend online is devoted to social media. The most active users, as expected are 16-24 year-olds, who devote almost three hours a day to social media.
Smart phones have overtaken laptops as the top vehicle by which social media is monitored, which means it is critical for marketers to implement a mobile-first strategy. Video should be a key component of a social media presence since virtually all social networkers have watched a clip online at least once during the last month, according to GlobalWebIndex.
During the past decade, social media increasingly is being used by brands to connect with customers, engage in conversations, create sales leads, and spur sales. Indeed, brands are no longer just putting out the message, they are engaging with their target audiences. In fact, social media has become so ubiquitous that consumers have now come to expect their favorite brands to be active.
Today’s marketers know that social engagement is more important than ever since social media permeates through nearly everyone’s lives throughout the day. Customers share their thoughts about brands online – both good and bad. It is important for small business owners to understand this and engage with fans, customers, reviewers and others.
Social media marketing is an effective way to build customer loyalty, foster brand advocacy and drive sales. Some of the benefits of social media marketing are:
Marketers typically seek to drive visitors to their sites in order to engage audiences and eventually compel them to make purchases. Increasing your website’s ranking in organic search results plays an important role. Search engine optimization (SEO) is how marketers boost their organic search rankings on Google and other search engines. Social media can be utilized to promote content on your website, and the incoming links from social media shares will increase the amount of time visitors spend on a site, which helps increase SEO rankings.
Building Brand Awareness and Customer Loyalty
According to GlobalWebIndex, almost four in 10 Internet users say they follow their favorite brands on social media, which demonstrates an openness toward having branded content appear on their newsfeeds. One quarter of this group say that seeing a brand or product with a lot of “likes” would encourage them to buy something. Among 35-44 year-old consumers, the figure is 20 percent. Further, teens and young adults now are 16-24 year-olds are now more likely to use social media, rather than search engines, to research brands.
Social media provides the opportunity to develop special offers, contests, and branded content that engages your target audiences. The next logical progression is conversion — whether it is filling out a form or making a purchase.
Marketers develop their personas based on their customer demographics and behaviors. This information is often found through qualitative interviews and surveys of customers and salespeople. The better a brand understands its buyers, the more relevant its marketing efforts will be.
Consumer products companies tend to create brand personas around demographic information such as age, gender, income level, and region and psychographic information. The brand person will determine what kind of content is needed. For instance, some buyers respond well to a conversational voice, while others react positively to a more formal tone.
Brand personas also help determine the types of topics to cover via social media. If your core buyers are college-age students, the messages can range in style from socially conscious to light-hearted and fun-loving. Learning as much as you can about your primary customers is an important step toward shaping the conversation with them through social media.
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For a long time, a big challenge for retailers on Instagram for a long time was getting followers to go from looking at a photo on Instagram to actually visiting a website to make a purchase. In 2017, Instagram launched its Instagram Shopping feature which gave brands have the ability to tag specific products within a picture so users could go directly to a landing page and purchase.
Shopping posts give people quick access to pricing and product details both within the Instagram feed and via the “Shop” tab on a business profile. By tapping on a post, shoppers can take the next step to learn more about products. After someone gotten information about a product through a shopping post, they can tap “Shop Now” to go directly to the brand’s mobile site. The process is seamless and caters to how consumers shop today.
Increasing Company Value
A solid social media dialogue can greatly affect the value of your small business in many key ways. It can boost your SEO presence. It can also increase your brand awareness. These two elements are increasingly being considered as key assets in valuation and consideration of small business loans.
Mr. Kelly is an expert in online marketing, search engine optimization, content development and content distribution. He has consulted some of the top brokerages, media companies and financial exchanges on online marketing and content management including: The New York Board of Trade, Chicago Board Options Exchange, International Business Times, Briefing.com, Bloomberg and Bridge Information Systems and 401kTV.
He continues to be a regular market analyst and writer for ForexTV.com. He holds a Series 3 and Series 34 CFTC registration and formerly was a Commodities Trading Advisor (CTA). Tim is also an expert and specialist in Ichimoku technical analysis. He was also a licensed Property & Casualty; Life, Accident & Health Insurance Producer in New York State.
In addition to writing about the financial markets, Mr. Kelly writes extensively about online marketing and content marketing.
Mr. Kelly attended Boston College where he studied English Literature and Economics, and also attended the University of Siena, Italy where he studied studio art.
Mr. Kelly has been a decades-long community volunteer in his hometown of Long Island where he established the community assistance foundation, Kelly's Heroes. He has also been a coach of Youth Lacrosse for over 10 years. Prior to volunteering in youth sports, Mr. Kelly was involved in the Inner City Scholarship program administered by the Archdiocese of New York.
Before creating ForexTV, Mr, Kelly was Sr. VP Global Marketing for Bridge Information Systems, the world’s second largest financial market data vendor. Prior to Bridge, Mr. Kelly was a team leader of Media at Bloomberg Financial Markets, where he created Bloomberg Personal Magazine with an initial circulation of over 7 million copies monthly.