In short, yes, but how social media marketing helps your business is probably the more important question people should be asking. There is no short answer to that as it is different for each business depending on what they are trying to accomplish. But especially traditional business owners should be asking themselves the question “Social Media Marketing: is it for my business” because it easily can support other current marketing strategies and act as an effective ongoing growth tool after the offline campaigns have ended.
If you have an offline business or thinking about a cost effective way to set up a business then this post will not only help you decide how social media marketing helps you, it will have you thinking about what marketing strategies in general you could be focusing on in your business that social media could be supporting.
Using Social Media Marketing for some owners is just having a presence for customers to connect and be offered bonuses or specials for participating in surveys of new products or for just being a fan and spreading the word… a sample of this would be Coke Cola’s Facebook Fan Page. For most of us Facebook is about building relationships and offering value to those who want to stay in touch with our business page after meeting us somewhere offline – not necessarily be advertised at every day.
For corporate figures and micro service businesses such as lawyers or mortgage brokers then their personal social profiles and their connections become equally as important as their business’ social presence – so Twitter and LinkedIn are great for increasing their network also. Social sites in general for business is a way to balance and stay connected between our offline networking activities and build awareness of our business’ services or products via business pages.
Video is also a great social media tool that can be used to promote a person’s business services or various unique products. We have all seen how YouTube can work for any size business by providing short ‘how to’ info videos or cost effective advertising videos. Even Real Estate Agents are utilizing the power of uploading virtual tours of listed properties and then displaying them in their own website for people to book an inspection.
Now, before jumping in and creating a heap of Social Media Profiles and business pages, consider your goals, otherwise all these separate spaces will become another time sucking exercise to manage! Think about if it is traffic to your website you are after – where products and services are listed. Then it is important to consider a blog in your website – not only will it improve the traffic by creating informative content to share and build your credibility, but it will also get noticed by Google because of the keywords, likes, shares and comments your articles are going to receive.
You need to also consider how to tie all your social media presence together so the message about your business and activities is consistent. If you say you are reliable – then ensure you respond to any followers questions and comments activity promptly. If you are organised then keep your social posts up to date. If you are a professional leader within your industry, make sure your presence appears that way, we make judged decisions on what type of service a person delivers based on how tidy they dress so ensure your online presence of your business is professional – not looking like a backyard project or hobby business.
Other ways to integrate your offline activities in order to grow your social marketing strategy can be read in these general marketing points below… these are especially good if you are a small family owned business and ‘wear many hats’ with a limited marketing budget.
★ what contacts have you already got to help you get your product noticed eg look for local businesses that would compliment displaying your product or service but not in competition with you eg if selling cosmetics find independent hairdressers/fashion/jewellery shops who could display your cosmetics for a small % of your profit – and then later consider purchasing the products up front to sell. If you are mortgage broker who are your local real estate agents or accountants you could give a referral fee to for new clients.
★ Market stall holders are also a great resource for networking. Look for stalls that would compliment your product or service and suggest how the both of you could offer a ‘market special’ by bundling your products together to be sold. It adds higher value to the customer and makes it an exclusive offer only available there, so it is a win-win for you and the stall holder.
★ think of how to keep in touch with your customers by building an email list. This will mean you don’t have to continually spend money and time marketing for new customers and can offer them special discounts or ‘buy this item & get this free’for being loyal followers etc. If you have a website already use an opt-in form on your front page for people to enter their email in. A free service is MailChimp but another I don’t mind using because of it’s support service and extra features is Aweber which is $20 per month. These will let you set up multiple lists in order to run short term or long term campaigns. Think of a compelling offer to get them on the email list – a discount code, or downloadable giveaway such as ’10 hot tips in applying your makeup to make it last longer’ or ’5 reasons why you would use a mortgage broker and not the bank’.
★ how much time can you commit to marketing as it will have an impact on the time you already spend in your business on product creation or service delivery if you’re doing it yourself.
★ how much time you have is a key point to help you decide what kind of marketing strategies you use & where to focus any budget, and then build from there. eg fan pages & twitter are cheap to set up but take time to maintain – searching possible business connections and information to post, harvesting and creating relationships with those connections and what methods you plan to use to list products or take orders if you are not using a website etc. The upside is you are easily creating a list of potential customers who qualified themselves as being interested in your product – they’re not on your mailing list yet but it sure beats paying to have a flyer posted every 6 months to the same address area in hope of finding people who might be interested!
★ a website can automate ordering but needs ongoing maintenance such as new product images or specials to be uploaded. You will also need to consider how to promote elsewhere online to get traffic to your website. There are many cost effective marketing options to build into websites such as e-parties where people register to host their own parties and receive in return a percentage to spend on your website, or choose from ‘host only’ product lists. Another common website program offered to customers is affiliate payments for promoting and driving traffic to your website – but think how to get those potential marketers to your website in the first place. Again this is a great way to use Social Media Marketing strategies without spending money… just your time. Post on related Fan Page walls advertising for hosts or affiliates with a link to your website. This too can work offline… think how businesses like Tupperware or Avon started… think your local community billboards, network of friends.
So the key reasons for setting up any Social Media Profiles and Pages will be different for each business and rather than bury your head and say “no one else I know in my field of business is doing it so why should I?” think “I’m going to start marketing in a place no-one else is!”
I hope some of these ideas have helped in clarifying what it is you set out to do and decide which marketing strategies to focus your businesses budgets or time on.
My best advice is to identify where your skill strengths are and continue to do that – because no one will do it better. Focus your marketing budget on getting done what you’re not so good at, finding the people that do it better. Once you know what it is you want to achieve and have the key people in place to help you, then prioritize the fastest money making ideas first. This is so you can make sales in order to generate a better cash flow and then increase your marketing budget and therefore continually improving your exposure & sales over and over.
For more information on what social media strategies you could use related to your business you can contact me for a strategy consultation hour or consider joining my FREE “Socialising For Profit” E-course or attending a social media workshop to help you start building your own Social Media presence alone.