Engaging and Influencing with Social Media Marketing


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Social media marketing (SMM) uses social media platforms (sites) to positively influence consumers toward a company’s brand, product or service. In other words, the goal of social media marketing is to persuade consumers of the value of a company’s offering. While traditional marketing tends to be interruptive by nature (e.g., a TV commercial), social media marketing consists of engaging and influencing people (e.g., enticing online users to participate in conversations and offering them something of value in hopes of eventually persuading them to view your offering favorably). Social media marketing often involves creating a “buzz” online, so that complementary content about the company, brand, product or service goes “viral,” with consumer-generated media endorsements spreading like wildfire across the Internet (–think of a highly watched YouTube video extolling the virtues of a particular product).

It is not hyperbole to say that social media marketing is fundamentally changing the way businesses communicate with consumers. In fact, social media marketing has become so powerful it is now driving search engine results. Today, people are using highly accessible social media tools to find, create, and share content online. Social media enables people to collaborate and form consensus opinions, connecting and forming relationships in ways never before possible. This presents a new challenge and opportunity for businesses—to positively influence this ongoing conversation about the company’s offerings.

Think of it this way, social media marketing is the 21st Century digital “word-of-mouth” promotion. However, instead of discussing a company’s offering in person or over the phone, Internet users have turned to social media portals to express their opinions.

Social marketing is such an expansive topic, we will be spending the next two weeks covering it. Some of this information will act as a review for you learned in Social Media Marketing. Along the way, we will delve into how this medium can contribute to your overall digital marketing plan.

Chapter 6 (The Art of Digital Marketing) explores the first part of a four stage iterative social media marketing strategy. Next week, we will cover the last two elements of this strategy. After studying this chapter, you will able to:

  1. Define social media marketing
    • A form of Internet marketing utilizing social networking sites as marketing tools, thereby gaining traffic, brand exposure, and interaction with customers through social media. “Flirting with your biggest fas!” -Ian Dodson, The Art of Digital Marketing
  2. Identify the four stages of the social media iterative planning process
    • Goals, Channels, Implement, Analyze
  3. Describe the concepts and mechanics of social media and how you can use them to your
  4. Explain how to set up engaging Facebook and Twitter business profiles
  5. Set up a professional LinkedIn profile and participating in LinkedIn groups to expand your network
  6. Describe how to run effective Google+, YouTube, and blogging accounts
  7. Distinguish between earned, owned, and paid media
    • Earned= free publicity generated by fans/customers
    • Owned= communications that a brand creates and controls via its own platform (ie. Facebook Page)
    • Paid= any paid activity that drives traffic to owned media properties
  8. Recognize the most common forms of social media
    • Facebook and Twitter (considered top 2 by our textbook author)
    • LinkedIn
    • Blogging platforms, ie. WordPress
    • YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Instagram
    • Pinterest, SnapChat
    • TripAdvisor, PodOmatic
  9. Describe what makes social media marketing effective and the implications for businesses.
    Identify different SMM goals and explain how to set your own
  10. Set up a Twitter business account
  11. Recognize the best ways of interacting with other users
  12. Describe how to effectively promote your Twitter profile, utilizing features like social plug-ins and lists
  13. Create an engaging LinkedIn profile
  14. Use the platform effectively by participating in groups and engaging with other companies’ pages
  15. Advertise job vacancies and career opportunities in your organization
  16. Describe what Circles are and how you can use them to connect with other users
  17. Explain the benefits that Hangouts can have for your business
  18. Create an engaging Google+ business page and track its results
  19. Describe how YouTube works and what some of its key features are
  20. Set up and promote your own channel
  21. Explain the types of video you can use and how to promote them across the web
  22. Recognize that blogs provide strong SEO benefits and give credibility to your business
  23. Describe best blogging practices
  24. Explain how blogs can be shared on social media platforms to increase awareness

Setting Goals for Social Media Marketing

5 Goals of Social Media Marketing

source: eClincher (some information has been updated from original post)

Everybody uses social media, there’s no avoiding it. It’s our number one place to stay connected to friends, family, colleagues, news, and, most importantly to marketers, companies and brands.

There are now more than 3.2 billion active social media users, which makes social media an unavoidable part of your marketing strategy. Unlike the past where marketers blindly advertised and hoped for the best, social media provides your company the opportunity to engage with customers in real time. Customer complaint? You can solve it. Positive customer review? You can thank the user and offer a gift or promotion.

Simply being there isn’t enough. Your company needs to engage and interact to grow a loyal following.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Social Media Goals

The most important aspect of any social media marketing strategy is to set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals. Posting blindly and expecting to achieve massive amounts of new sales would be like cooking without the right ingredients and expecting perfection. By setting goals before you begin, it’s easier to measure success or failure. These goals aren’t always focused on money or return on investment, and they shouldn’t be. Social media marketing is more about engagement and providing solutions to problems rather than selling.

5 Goals of Social Media Marketing:

1. Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is all about your brand becoming relevant to potential buyers. This means posting content regularly that answers the questions your customers are asking. That content includes links to blog posts, infographics, statistics, and relevant articles. But don’t forget to show the world who your brand is by posting photos of employees, the office, and company events. You can also post humorous, relevant memes that support your brand. This will help build a connection with customers.

Analytics to Track:

  • Increase Engagement
  • Followers
  • Likes
  • Retweets

Example of S.M.A.R.T. Goal: Gain 1,000 Twitter followers by the end of the month.

2. Enhance Public Relations

By following your company’s mentions, you can find out what customers are saying about your brand, and respond to complaints in a timely manner. In fact, according to Social Media Today, when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 25% – 45% more with the company. Responding quickly and solving problems allows you to stay ahead of large-scale complaints and create brand loyalty.

Analytics to Track:

  • Improve Relationships
  • Mentions
  • Ratings
  • Reviews

3. Build a Community of Advocates

Brand loyalty has always been one of the most important factors in long term growth. In the past, companies relied on word of mouth. Now, social media provides an entirely new platform where brand loyalty can be shared with thousands of people in real time.

For instance, as the amount of photos of food increases on social media, restaurants are offering promotions and discounts for those that post pictures of their food on social media. That provides the restaurant with exposure and the customer feels connected.

Analytics to Track:

  • Follows
  • Mentions
  • Likes
  • Retweets

4. Research and Development

By consistently engaging with customers, your company can stay up to date on the problems they’re facing and develop solutions. Just as importantly, follow your competitors on social media to see how they engage their customers, if they’re facing any complaints, and if they’re rolling out any promotions or new products. A great way to track competitors is using , where you can create and save feeds based on specific keywords.

Analytics to Track:

  • Keep Track of Competition
  • Increase Engagement
  • Insights into Customer Problems

5. Driving Sales and Leads

If you’re not leveraging social media to acquire leads and generate sales, you’re not using social media properly. This is what most companies strive for first, but fail to realize that without time spent on the first four goals, it’s unlikely that sales will grow.

Social media provides the perfect opportunity to interact with potential customers, both on a personal level and an organizational level, to gauge their pain points, and to understand their basic corporate culture. This knowledge allows for a warm call when you first engage, as opposed to a cold call.

Aspects to Track:

  • Increase Web Traffic
  • Click Through Rate
  • Call To Actions
  • Landing Pages

Leveraging Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Business

Social media marketing is a multi-faceted approach that, when used properly, can help grow your business by creating brand awareness, engaging with customers, and finding new customers. It is, however, impossible to be everywhere, which is why you need to find the social media channels that are right for your company and your brand. For instance, two-thirds of Instagram users are under 35. But even if that’s your target market, it still doesn’t mean Instagram is the right channel for your brand.

Your organization needs to set S.M.A.R.T. goals so successes and failures can be measured properly. More often than not, especially in the beginning, it is better to focus on engagement and building a presence. If you jump right into selling, you may lose traction before getting started. Use your knowledge and expertise to provide solutions to problems, and you will present your company as a trusted advisor that people want to buy from.

Identifying the Best Social Media Channels

3 Questions To Ask To Identify The Best Social Media Channels for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Sarah Patrick | Salesforce.com

Social media is increasingly seen as the digital marketing strategy of choice for small and large businesses, alike. According to the 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 90 percent of marketers believe social media is important to their business. And, as the social media giants continue to update their platforms and transform how users interact with content and communicate with each other, social media marketing surely will play an even larger role in the future.

Despite social media’s popularity, businesses that fall on the smaller scale, with 20 employees or less, tend to forgo social media activity. As these small businesses prepare to enter the social media game, it is important for them to choose the channels that best meet their needs. This article explores three questions that businesses should consider when navigating the social media channel selection process.

Understand the Social Media Channels that are Important for your Business

The list of social media channels available seems never-ending. The big three – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – remain relevant, but Snapchat, Pinterest, Medium, and more, now join the ranks of popular and effective channels. So, how do you know which channel is best for you?

“I think people generally go toward the things they understand the most or have heard of before. … Whether they are the right channels for the business is another question.” – Jeff Gibbard, President and Chief Strategist, True Voice Media

Choosing a social media platform that is not compatible with your audience’s online habits can be detrimental to your social media strategy.

Here are three questions to facilitate the process:

1. Who is your audience?

Depending on your business’ focus – business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-community (B2C) – the type of people interacting with your brand and using your products, services, and resources, may differ.

For example, if you own a local running store, your goal is to interact with runners in both your immediate location and the larger community. This audience is broad, representing an array of demographics and levels of experience.

Because of this diversity, the social media channels you use should be a good mix of new and familiar platforms. A Pew Research shows that Instagram is most popular with young adults between the ages of 18 to 35, while Facebook remains popular across all age groups and demographics. Therefore, it would not make sense to use Instagram only. Rather, using Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook represents a more inclusive approach.

2. Where is your audience?

Communicating with your current customers and catching the eye of potential new customers requires being in the same place as them. Returning to the example above, the running company’s audience most likely is on Instagram and Facebook, platforms where they can post photos, share encouragement, and organize meet-ups.

Conversely, if you own a boutique web design agency and are seeking to generate leads for your company, Snapchat most likely is not the best option for you. A better alternative may be LinkedIn, because it is a hub for B2B companies.

3. How does your audience consume content?

Some social media channels support different types of content better than others. As creating quality content becomes an increasingly popular digital marketing tactic, it is important to understand where your audience will consume what types of content.

For example, long-form, research-driven articles may appeal to LinkedIn users who seek to learn about an industry or improve their professional skills.

Meanwhile, an image may gain more traction on Instagram than Snapchat, where it will disappear in 10 seconds or less.

Finally, Twitter is ideal for companies that emphasize customer service, such as Uber, Lyft, airlines, and restaurants. The platform allows quick, nearly instantaneous interactions in response to questions, criticism, and praise.

The Takeaway

An effective social media marketing strategy goes beyond simply making profiles on as many platforms as possible. Selecting the social media channels that are a good fit and can meet your business goals is a crucial part of the planning process.

“Not everybody needs to be on every channel, but they need to focus on the channels that will give them the biggest returns.” — Marty McDonald, Co-founder and CEO, of Bad Rhino, Inc.

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