There are many ways to use social media within your business, and it can be a great way to help build your brand, ultimately increase your sales and grow your business. In this article, I’m going to focus mainly on Facebook for examples unless it makes no sense to do so, as it’s by far the biggest platform.
How Businesses use Social media is dependent on the objectives and goals that a company has, for example, many larger companies are focused on creating brand awareness and interest for their products or services with the hope that their efforts will encourage potential customers to choose them over their competitors.
Companies will also use the platform for advertising products and services directly to their target audience.
It’s worth noting that social media platforms, such as Facebook, offer advertisers the opportunity to get in front of people who may be interested in what they have to say early on in the buyer’s journey.
In other words, presenting your offer when the prospect isn’t actively looking for anything, an example would be a cycling company offering a cycling related product to me, as I’m a cycling enthusiast, while I’m just browsing my feed to see what my friends have been doing.
This is a very different approach when compared with Pay Per Click marketing on Google where someone is further down the road in terms of actively looking for something they want or need and offers an opportunity for companies to get in front of potential prospects at a more advanced stage, i.e. when they are nearer to making a purchase decision.
Social media has changed significantly over the last few years as there was a time when a company could post useful and valuable content like video, imagery and articles to the platform and it would be seen by many of the company’s followers and hopefully shared.
Unfortunately, this has long gone, as any organic reach (how many people can see the post) has been severely reduced. I believe it’s in the region of 5%!
It has been driven mainly by social media companies needing to generate advertising revenue for their shareholders and investors.
To get the most out of the social media platforms, like Facebook, you need to pay for your content to be seen, whether or not you are focusing on user engagement, brand recognition or direct product or service advertising.
What’s interesting with social media advertising is that if the content is valuable and resonates well with the audience, the content will be shared, gain likes and comments known in marketing terms as ‘Earned media’.
This can help with extending the brands reach and their ability to connect with their intended audience.
Another area that companies will leverage social media platforms is through ‘community support’ this has become quite important over the last few years as customers expect to be heard and have someone engage with them quickly and personally if they are seeking answers to questions or having problems with a product or service.
If a company doesn’t engage with their audience, it can quickly spread and harm the brand’s image as people tend to focus on these things when making decisions on which brand or provider to use.
To summarize this section businesses will use Social media for
1. Brand awareness
2. Product or service interest & consideration
3. Nurture user engagement
4. Advertise products and services directly
5. Provide support
These are by no means the only ways, but they highlight some of the key area’s businesses are focusing on when using social media within their marketing strategies.
With this in mind, I’ve outlined more ways below that can give you an edge when deciding how to use these platforms for your business digital marketing plan…
Social Media lead generation b2b and b2c
Many companies dismiss using social media for business to business lead generation, except for Linkedin, which is seen as the business professionals social media platform.
However, there is a massive flaw in this thinking, and you may well be missing out on reaching people who would be interested in learning about your business and what you have to offer.
Let’s look at Facebook, with it’s 2 Billion plus users.
Those users are made up of every type of demographic and job category you can think of, and company CEO’s are no exception, yes many of them like looking at cat pictures too, which enables you to get in front of any person you’re trying to reach.
What I’ve personally noticed is that many people deny they use Facebook, myself included, except for business of course.
The thing is that I often find myself on the platform, not to post what I had for breakfast but for research, or going into the ads manager, business version or otherwise.
I know you know what happens next, I find myself reading the posts and clicking on the ads even though I don’t ‘use’ Facebook, I look at Facebook way more than I want to admit!
Now if a company has set up a proper lead generation funnel and have presented me with a great offer or a hook to find out more, they have me, as a lead to follow up.
The takeaway here is you’re not targeting businesses, you’re targeting people who work in business, and with the right targeting Facebook can be used very effectively for generating leads from both b2b and b2c.
Just remember to choose a social media platform where your target audience is likely to be.
For example, if you were trying to reach managers, then Snapchat probably wouldn’t be the best platform as its user base is a very young demographic, so keep this in my when selecting platforms to use and as always assume nothing and test everything.
Why use Social Media for advertising?
The buyer’s journey. I’ve already mentioned this earlier in this post; however, it’s so important to realise that you can get in front of potential prospects with your product or service when they are not looking to buy anything.
It may seem counterintuitive to some, but your goal here is to attract them with a great offer enticing enough that they will take action either immediately or indeed later as I’ll explain shortly.
Yes, PPC is excellent for targeting people already looking for products or services similar to yours. However, your competitors know this so competition for these clicks can be quite intense and expensive…
Massive Reach. Another factor is the volume of people on social media, and Facebook is huge as we all know, so is YouTube. I must confess that I’m a big YouTube fan for researching topics or just generally watching videos on subjects that interest me. In turn, for that privilege companies can advertise to me.
Demographics. I’ve not met many people who don’t use some social media platform, whether that’s Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram or one of the others. This gives advertisers the opportunity to target the most relevant prospects for their industry like never before.
Engagement. Being able to engage with your audience and listen to what they want is incredibly powerful and with the right mindset can genuinely help move your business forward in the right direction.
Branding. Never before have companies been able to connect so deeply with their audience, it gives companies the ability to show the human side, what their values are and tell their story in a way that shapes how the company is perceived on the market.
It can work both ways, so it’s critical to make sure that you are seen in a positive light, if not things will quickly unravel. If you get this right people will not only use you but become brand advocates and recommend you to their friends and family, and there can be no better way of growing your business than that.
Format. The ability for you to use multiple formats like articles, images or video and be able to present them in many different ways is also appealing too.
Creativity can be used to showcase your company, its values and offerings. If you’re starting and don’t have a big budget, then the barrier to entry is very low if using images and text. There is no reason not to get involved.
Top tip. A video is far more engaging, so even if you use a simple set of images and create a slideshow video, you will probably have far higher engagement than static images and better ROI.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get better engagement and be seen.
Direct sales. With a well designed digital sales funnel combined with the power of retargeting, social media advertising can produce high quality, valuable leads that convert.
Starting with targeting the right audience, with a well-crafted advertisement can build trust from the outset, and if the offer is right, excellent results can be achieved, and this can make a tangible difference for so many companies, large and small…
Retargeting. I was talking about immediate action but what happens if they don’t take action, which is often the case? Well, we can employ retargeting or remarketing methods to show our adverts to the very same people who already engaged with us.
For example, they may have already visited your website. This is incredibly powerful in that it keeps your offer front and center, so when they do decide they need or want the product your offering, they are more likely to choose you.
Now a word of advice, don’t be a pest, it’s good to be seen, and it’s been shown numerous times over the years to be effective, however, don’t overdo it as I firmly believe that it can have a negative impact to your business.
Find the right balance of frequency at the start of the relationship and then tone it down to once a week or twice a month as nobody wants to see your ads continually.
Cost. When compared to other forms of marketing social media can often be great value and costs of conversion are generally much lower than other forms of marketing.
Of course, this depends on various factors such as the offer, the price and the amount of competition for your audience.
It’s important to recognise that you may be targeting an audience for your offering, when a completely different type of business may also be targeting them for theirs.
This occurs as we all fall into various demographic categories and often have multiple interests that other companies are targeting, so this can drive up the price.
It shouldn’t matter, as long as your digital sales funnel is sound, and the conversion rate remains strong then you’ll see a positive ROI.
Social Media advertising advantages and disadvantages
Many companies have fallen into the trap of using social media primarily for branding and have entirely missed out on the opportunity that social media provides for direct response marketing.
This is especially true with larger companies, of course, branding is crucial whether you are a large or small company and should be in the mix.
My personal take on this is that your social media budget should be split 80/20 or 70/30 in favour of direct response marketing for reasons I’ll share with you later in this post.
I’ll start with eight main advantages for using social media to engage with your audience…
1. To create awareness around your company, what you do, what you stand for and the opportunity to present your ‘voice’. This can help define the type of customers you’ll attract going forward.
2. You also now can talk about your product or service in a way that isn’t too salesy and in a way that helps solve an issue or can enhance their well-being.
3. If you’ve done the above well you’ll often find you’ll create ‘brand advocates’ these are the people that are completely and utterly in love with you, your brand, your products and services and will tell and share their experiences enthusiastically with friends, family and in all honesty anyone who’ll listen.
4. The very fact that you can engage with your customers is an excellent opportunity to show that you care, it allows you to give the human touch and not be just some faceless organisation.
5. By being ‘in touch’ with your audience, you can talk to them and get feedback about their likes, dislikes and what they want. It’s important to listen and make relevant changes if it makes sense to do so, especially if enough people are talking about the same things.
6. Listening to your audience can also help you be in touch with emerging trends and if you have an active social media strategy could potentially give you an edge on your completion.
7. Customer support is actively being done through social media and people are expecting it.
It gives you the chance to show you care and have your customers best interest at heart and it will help build your reputation.
8. Finally, you can obtain social media traffic back to your website, and this can help with SEO, as I’ll talk about in the next section, especially if your campaigns are set up strategically with solid goals in mind. i.e. drive traffic to a specific blog post or offer.
The above can be extremely powerful in building your business and brand and can really work in your favour, but the opposite can also be true, get it wrong, and it could be devastating for your company!
Now for the main disadvantages of Social Media marketing
All social media companies need to make a profit and advertising is the primary driver for this. With this in mind, Social Media marketing has changed significantly over the last few years and things aren’t quite so easy as the once were, read on.
1. Take Facebook, as mentioned earlier, organic posts will only be seen by approximately 5% of your audience, so you have to pay for a wider distribution of your message driving up your marketing costs.
2. It’s difficult to measure the success of a campaign directly, although you should see activity increase in traffic and sales. However many other things can influence this and may not be directly related to your campaign.
3. As a business you can’t hide, you are visible to everyone, including your competitors and many will ‘spy’ on your activities and often copy them, both the good and the bad.
My advice, don’t copy, innovate, learn by your own mistakes and build on your successes.
4. The above often makes it difficult to justify budgets as it is difficult to see a direct ROI. Social media marketing can often be the first to go when companies are looking at marketing budgets.
5. I’ve already highlighted this but it’s worth mentioning again, negative feedback, reviews, support can be devastating for a small company and extremely harmful for a larger one, so you need to make sure you are effectively managing any social media marketing that your company is engaged in.
As I mentioned in the introduction to this section, social media can and should be used for direct response marketing. It can be highly effective and far easier to measure.
It gives you and your company direct results with clear ROI which in turn makes it a lot simpler to justify your marketing budget, and ad spend.
However, the campaigns are more complicated to set up, and a sound strategy is required to see the best results.
This would include compelling ads that lead to a direct response marketing funnel which in turn will often include email marketing and remarketing strategies.
Once you have a digital sales funnel set up it can have a real impact on your business, and I encourage you to at least try and test different direct marketing campaigns and see for yourself. It will require testing and patience; however, the results should be compelling once you’ve gone through the learning curve.
Do social signals help SEO and page rankings?
I don’t believe it helps with a page’s authority directly.
If you think about it logically, Google would be opening itself up to yet more spam, how could they tell a genuine like on Facebook compared to a paid one.
I can’t see how this can be done unless Facebook gives Google that data which is highly unlikely in my opinion.
However, many have cited increases in page performance and rankings.
Surely it has an effect.
I believe it does but not for the reasons many talk about.
I would say this has more to do with genuine additional traffic coming from these sources and if the content is high quality and engagement is high, this will undoubtedly boost your rankings, especially if it’s for a keyword that doesn’t have a lot of search volume.
Why? Maybe I’m over simplifying this, but if you suddenly have more traffic and higher engagement with your page over your competitors then you will by default see a boost, you may even be picking up new Backlinks from other websites which will also provide a vote of confidence for Google’s RankBrain algorithm.
SEO is a huge subject with many different opinions so I’ve linked to an article that covers this in more detail, ‘What Is SEO Lead Generation & Does It Still Work?‘.
Should you be using Social Media marketing?
This is a more difficult question to answer as the obvious answer is yes, however, there are other considerations.
Time. It takes a lot of time to be on top of your social media presence, so it’s probably better to start small unless of course, you can afford to engage someone to manage it for you.
If you’re not managing it correctly it could do more harm than good, so start knowing exactly what you want out of it and be prepared to put the resources into it for the best results.
Using paid advertising and building digital sales funnels can be highly effective and I do encourage you to start with this approach.
I’ve covered quite a lot in this article and in truth only scratched the surface.
The bottom line is that businesses use social media marketing in many ways and all can support each other whether that is for brand and product awareness, customer engagement and support or direct response marketing.
It’s a highly effective marketing option for both large and small companies if built around a sound set of objectives and strategies.