Social media is here to stay, that's a fact. Nowadays it's hard to find someone who doesn't use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. We use them to interact with our friends, share our lives, express our opinions....even finding jobs! We would normally think of all of this people as users or friends; but using our business-glasses they become customers and clients (even if they are only potential ones). That's where a new chapter in the never-ending book of marketing begins: Social Media Marketing.
In the words of Daniel Nations from webtrends.com, Social Media Marketing is the process and strategies marketers and businesses use to advertise their brands, products , and services in social networks in order to attract new customers, as well as trying to reach a bigger market than they would with traditional marketing strategies. This beatiful concept is born from the addition of the most important characteristics of social media, closeness and personalization, to our marketing efforts. In other words, it made marketing more "human" and "sensitive". We no longer speak to "the market", "the audience" or "the clients"; we now talk directly to (and with) John, or Mary, or Susan.
One of the main differences between Social Media Marketing (SMM) and traditional Marketing is that we as businesses and companies are at the same "level" as our customers. We no longer are faceless giants trying to sell, but a feeling "person" willing to hear and understand, as well as receiving feedback or complaints. This is incredibly important if we consider that this way we can actually get to know our customers without the help of a third party, just by paying attention, or even by asking the client what they really need and want. We obtain primary information directly from the source, and can spare the money which we would normally spend in a focus group, for example.
So, with that said, what else can we get from SMM? The truth is that there are multiple benefits along with it, but also some critical points to take into consideration which may take some time and effort to master in order to create effective campaigns and valuable content. Let's begin with the advantages:
- Brand Loyalty: As we come closer to the customers through their cellphones, computers, and tablets, we are bound to be remembered by them by the time they face a buying decision.
- Authority: The more the clients can interact with us (to complain, to congratulate, to ask), the more they will be likely to talk about us. The more this happens, bigger the presence in that social platform.
- Lower marketing costs: We don't need a huge amount of cash to post a catchy phrase with an attractive photo or an interesting video on you Facebook wall, do we?
- Higher SEO rankings: Search engines results are not only based on constant updates or keywords. User experience is a very important characteristic giants such as Google or Yahoo consider when giving us results. This aspect (user experience) is highly boosted by social media interactions.
- Insights: As said before, we'll be near our customers. This means we have to listen, watch, understand, and feel them. That way we can easily discover what they like, dislike, prefer, avoid, etc.
To this point, Social Media Marketing sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? It actually is, but there are some things to consider to do it correctly, in order to get our clients to, literally, love you. Or, avoid them from hating you.
First things first: get to know your business, product and values. This information will give help you decide what kind of content to publish, where, and when to do it. It's not the same to publish ads on Facebook than doing it on Linkedin. Then, before you start posting funny cat photos, study your clients. What are they talking about? Do they like football? Try to talk about football. It's also essential to study the environment, trends, and fashion. We don't want our customers to think we are outdated. After you publish content, evaluate the responses of your new best friends. And lastly, try to find a balanced publishing period (don't post new content every 5 minutes, but also not every 5 months).
Just remember that your clients are people, too. Try to fulfill their needs and desires as well as you can, making this process attractive and fun. That's the true secret about Social Media Marketing. Give it a try, make mistakes, and get them to love you"