If you’re a small business owner, social media is a must. It’s cheap and easy to use, but that doesn’t mean it’s not marketing. Social media can be difficult to measure ROI on because the only people who see your content are those already interested in what you have to offer. It’s just important to understand that social media isn’t ALL of marketing; it is only one small piece. You must have other marketing strategies as well if you want to make an impact with your business online.
One thing we hear most often from entrepreneurs is:
1. What is Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is a form of marketing that uses the social media platforms to promote brands. Social Media Marketing helps you connect with your current and potential customers where they are already spending their time.
SMM allows you to build relationships with potential customers, attract them to your social media profiles, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately convert them into long-term customers by selling products and services.
So many entrepreneurs get confused that social media is marketing and they fail to focus on true marketing activities that can result in better return on investment. Social media is only one small part of marketing, although it can be easy to use since it is a free way to help grow your business. Smart entrepreneurs will use social media as only one piece of their overall, holistic marketing strategy to see best results.
Social Media should be just a tiny piece of everyone’s overall business plan. It shouldn’t be the whole plan because you need traffic first before you can market anything successfully or even start bringing in sales. You also have to build strong connections with people who are already interested in what you do so they will content about your products and services for you.
According to surveys, 25% of businesses do not see any sales from their social media activities and only 36% of marketers think social media is effective. Furthermore, 80-90% of marketers use social media as part of an overall marketing strategy, but only 58% list it as a top-three priority. 33 percent don’t even know what impact social has on lead generation and sales conversions.
One thing many entrepreneurs do is spend more money on advertising campaigns than planning or creating the content that can create solid branding for their company and products or services. This is one common mistake people make when trying to market their business through social media. They think they have to buy ads so people will follow them or link back to them to get results, but that is completely false.
The fact is that people are not going to follow or like or trust you unless they know about your company in the first place. so putting 99% of your effort into SMM without doing other business building activities isn’t going to help you build a strong brand and successful company. It might help you grow quickly, but it won’t be sustainable growth over time if all you do is spend money on advertising campaigns instead of investing in creating content that can attract prospects.
Social media is something you should consider as a supplemental branding and customer-building activity, but shouldn’t be the main focus of your marketing efforts because it still doesn’t convert well unless your product or service is so unique & mind blowing that people have to purchase from you on impulse or for life…. Social media will not sell a bad product… It won’t even help a good product much if not marketed right!
Then how does social media help build a brand?
You use social media to create awareness about your brand among your target audience, engage with them regularly, and show them how you’re different from the competition – like why they should do business with you instead of making them feel like they should purchase your product or service because you keep pestering them for it.
2. Why Social Media Needs to be Part of Your Overall Marketing Strategy
Social media is important, but it’s only one small part of your overall marketing strategy. There are many advantages of social media like having a free business platform that is mobile-friendly, but you need to balance the amount of time you spend on social media with other marketing activities to see true ROI.
That is why it’s important to have a holistic marketing plan that will allow you to focus on marketing activities that are proven to work. Social media cannot be the only thing you do!
You see, people like me really like using Facebook for staying connected with friends and family members, but we don’t like seeing businesses overusing ads on our stream. (I’m betting that you don’t either.) We want to be able to use Facebook without having constant interruption of business-related material – unless we choose for that content to appear (we sometimes do!). So many of us are sick of businesses advertising on our social media. However, not everyone sees this issue with social media or they choose to ignore it.
Social media is only one piece of the marketing puzzle. It can be easy for entrepreneurs to get confused and think social media is all they need to help grow their business. That isn’t true. Social media cannot replace your marketing strategy! Your product or service must have a specific market, so know who you are selling to before thinking about creating ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Your focus needs to be on being able to show potential customers what you offer them so that they can choose to buy from you instead of your competitors.
Once you’ve figured out who you are selling to, then think about how social media will be the best fit for that consumer group and what platforms may work best for them. Facebook is still the biggest platform out there, but it’s been losing its popularity due to those companies overusing ads on our newsfeeds! This means some entrepreneurs may see better results with Instagram or Twitter – do some research and see which one works best for your target market. We help our clients choose which platforms to add to their strategy, and when, to see the best use of their resources of time and money, while getting efficient results.
So many entrepreneurs make the mistake of only using social media as their marketing strategy and not thinking about other marketing efforts that can also help their business see ROI. Remember, there are many different types of marketing out there and social media is just one small part of that puzzle! You need to focus on marketing activities like optimizing your website, branding, advertising (online and offline), public relations (PR), networking, events etc. That way you’ll see an improvement in your return on investment (ROI).
3. How to Measure ROI on Social Media Campaigns
To measure the ROI on a Social Media campaign, you can employ a variety of strategies. But a good general way to understand ROI with social media is to review the cost with the return.
For example, you might spend $1000 on Facebook ads and receive $2000 in sales as a result – your ROI would be $1000/$1000 = 100%. We recommend that businesses use social media as just one tool out of many they’re using for marketing purposes. So it’s really more about understanding which marketing channels are giving the quickest results and how long those results last.
In our example, if the business gets $2000 in sales from spending $1000 on Facebook ads, then they should also spend at least another $1,000 to keep those customers coming. If they don’t, those customers or fans will disappear because all ads eventually stop showing, and organic reach on the platform is low.
Also, keep in mind that the costs you should consider aren’t only hard money paid for ads. Even when you are using strictly organic methods such as posting, you are using your time — which I will argue is even more valuable. Not only does your time have a hard cost associated with it (the value of an hour of your work), there are also the soft costs when you look at what you could be doing instead. There are some activities that ONLY you can do for your business, which makes every hour spent on social media (if that’s not your primary service that you are paid to do) worth double to triple of any hourly rate you would charg.e
To make sure you’re getting a good return on your investment for social media marketing campaign, first research how long people usually stay engaged with your brand online – a lot of businesses make the mistake of over-estimating this number by not understanding that consumers have other things going on in their lives beyond being potential customers for them. Research how many posts it takes until someone decides to buy from you – some industries may require more content than others. Then go ahead and set goals for yourself about how many sales you expect to make as a result of social media engagement, don’t forget to build the cost of ads into your goals.
Even if you’re not yet ready to invest money in advertising or other forms of marketing, there are still ways that you can use social media effectively, simply by following the rules below:
Be human. Don’t try too hard. Be informative without coming on too strong (you want people to like what they see, not be turned off by it). Post regularly but not TOO often (more than two posts per day is most likely overkill). Avoid posting more than once every three hours . Make sure that your content isn’t just self-promotion. Use a mix of outside sources in addition to your own content.
Be helpful. Don’t just brag about yourself all the time, talk about others and how they contribute to your brand or business too. Ask questions and post polls but don’t ask if you can promote something in your posts – that’s not being genuine enough. Put the answer in a blog post or video instead, so it doesn’t seem like you’re using social media to sell things 24/7 . Never use ALL CAPS when posting online…it comes off as yelling and is hard to read! Be careful not to come across as spammy by posting too often (again). If people keep reporting your posts for spam, it will get taken down and no one will see it.
Be creative. For example, you can tie in different strategies such as using Facebook to boost a Pinterest post (and vice versa) or create contests on Instagram that help boost interest in your business. You can even get people to pay attention to you by posting pictures of cute animals that might inspire people to visit your site! Make sure that the posts include a call-to-action and tell people what they should do next: buy something, sign up online, learn more about a topic…or at least give them other interesting posts so they keep coming back.
Contrary to what many entrepreneurs may believe, having engaging content is actually MORE important than increasing “likes” on your posts (although this is great too). To figure out how to A/B test posts for maximum engagement, try commenting with different options on the same topic. See which get more responses and use that one in the future … instead of posting something off-topic or silly all the time to try to get engagement. You don’t want your business to be known as “that company” who always says irrelevant things, you want it to be someone people look forward to interacting with….so don’t forget that!
Be consistent. It can take about six months for consumers to really start paying attention to what you’re doing online, so just keep at it…just like any other marketing strategy, consistency is key. That said, you don’t want every post to be a picture of your product – mix it up and try new things.
Think about the impression you want to leave with consumers as they scroll through their Facebook news feed or click on someone’s Instagram link . Because that’s what will happen, even if they don’t buy from you right away…at worst they’ll think “I don’t really need _____” and at best they’ll remember your brand for next time. So make sure that people can actually tell what your business is about in each post – start with an engaging headline, continue with a clear image (or video) and then conclude by telling people how this relates to them.
4. The Benefits of Using a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Strategy
Most entrepreneurs are so caught up in trying to grow their social media following that they neglect other marketing efforts, which is the worst possible thing that they can do. Social media is not a substitute for marketing!
While social media is great because it doesn’t cost anything to post, if your posts are just promoting your products, people will probably unfollow you or they’ll report your posts for spamming. If you take the time to create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, you’ll be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of social media while reaching a broader audience.
You have to think about what impression you want people who see your posts to have about your company. When people read them, do you want them to think it’s a business they could go to or one they should avoid? If people are bored by your posts, they’re not going to come back. Instead, think about ways you can use your social media to complement other marketing efforts.
After people visit your website, make sure to give them another reason to keep coming back instead of only having the same “buy now” message on all of your profiles. If you can build relationships online, people will be more likely to keep coming back and potentially refer their friends. The good news is that this doesn’t have to have a high monetary investment! In fact, it could actually save you money.
Make sure that people can tell what your company is all about as they scroll through their newsfeed or scroll through your business page. If they cannot figure out the answer after just a few posts then you might want to rethink what posts have been going out – start with an engaging lead image and continue with a clear caption. Make sure that your posts always include a call-to-action so people know exactly how they should respond next – even if that action is to simply comment.
Consistency is key in this regard because once people start paying attention to your business online, you don’t want them to unfollow you because of irrelevant posts. It can happen. Sometimes it’s simply that your information is no longer relevant because they’re at a different spot in their life or business than they were when they started following you, but sometimes it’s because your posts themselves aren’t relevant. Keep an eye on analytics when you are posting on social media so you know when people are actually seeing your posts. Maybe it is not the best time to post – look at when other posts in your industry are getting attention and consider changing what times of day or days of the week you are posting.
Actively listen. Just because someone doesn’t follow your company anymore, don’t think that they’re automatically out of sight….if they write a negative review about your business online, for example, then answer it! This could be a great opportunity for some free PR because if you can successfully resolve an issue with a customer who has come forward about their experience with your business, then potential new customers will see this and feel more comfortable purchasing from you.
This is a great opportunity to show that you care about your customers and this will then actually boost your business!
People need to know why they should choose you instead of all of your competitors. This is where smart digital marketing comes in – if you have a strategy behind social media, blogging and email marketing so that each post or message relates back to what is going on with the bigger picture, people will be able to feel more connected with you.
The more diverse content that you put out there online, the better. People like interacting with businesses (and people) who seem more real and less like robots or fake accounts. This is where personalization comes into play and this could be one of the keys to making your social media strategy work well for you.
People like to relate to other people so give them a little inside info on your company’s personality instead of only showing what they sell…this could be business related, humorous or something totally different depending on your industry. The point is that it doesn’t have to always being “sales-y” all the time! Some days just post about a fun fact about a plant in your office, share an inspirational quote from one of your employees, etc. The more there is variety, the better because after a while people will realize that you are not just out there trying to sell your product or service all the time to everyone.
This is one of the most important digital marketing tips…just because you are friends with someone on Facebook, it doesn’t mean that they want to see everything that you post! This is a common mistake for many entrepreneurs who haven’t yet realized just how much social media can help their business grow. Your friends and family are not always your customers. The people who follow you do so because they like what you have to say and want updates about what is going on…they might not need coupons every other day or constant reminders about which services are available.
Marketing activities that can result in return on investment. Social media is only one small part of marketing, although it can be easy to use since it is a free way to help grow your business. Smart entrepreneurs will use social media as only one piece of their overall, holistic marketing strategy to see best results. Social media is only one small piece of the puzzle.
Make sure that you’re not neglecting other aspects of your marketing plan to ensure that you get the best ROI on your efforts. Social media can be a great tool for entrepreneurs but it’s important not to make it “all about you” in fear of losing followers because people don’t want to feel like they are being sold to all of the time or marketed at constantly.
5. How to Use Social Media as Part of Your Digital Marketing Plan
A lot can get lost in translation when social media is used incorrectly. Social media is only one small piece of the puzzle, but it’s also not your marketing strategy. There are many other aspects to digital marketing that should be prioritized before social media. If you’re looking for a good return on investment, then unfortunately social media isn’t going to be enough.
When you combine multiple different types of digital marketing tactics, you’ll see the best results overall because all of them work together to help your business succeed. There are things like search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, and content creation that should be at the forefront of your mind when it come to digital marketing strategies. It’s also important to consider the best ways to use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
The first step is determining what your goals are for your business. Without goals that help you focus on growing your business, it’s hard to know where to place your focus. Decide whether you want increased exposure for your brand or increased sales. Once you’ve decided what goals you’d like to achieve, then figure out how successful marketing can help with those goals. As an example, let’s say that one of your goals is exposure (which isn’t enough on its own). Well then it would be easy to assume that more followers means better exposure but this may not be true since there needs to be some kind of strategy behind social media strategies.
So many entrepreneurs get confused that social media is marketing and they fail to focus on true marketing activities that can result in return on investment. Social media is only one small part of marketing, although it can be easy to use since it is a free way to help grow your business. Smart entrepreneurs will use social media as only one piece of their overall, holistic marketing strategy to see best results. Social media is only one small piece of the puzzle.
Social Media may not bring ROI but if used correctly it can contribute to your return on investment. Remember, it’s not the only element of digital marketing you need to focus on. Other types of marketing strategies are more likely to contribute to ROI, so it’s important to place some time and effort into those activities as well. Businesses that use multiple marketing tactics will see higher success rates overall because all of them work together to help your business succeed.
6. Ways You Can Use Social Media Without Spending Too Much Time or Money
One of my favorite FUN ways to use social media is to make a contest where I offer a prize in exchange for a quick, simple action. For example, I might write “Share this post with your friends and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free gift from our store!” by including an intriguing photo from the store. This can be a fun way to increase my reach on social media at little or no cost.
But is it marketing?
When you’re on Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, it feels like marketing because there are so many tactics you can use to promote your business for free! And who doesn’t want more free stuff?
When I tell my clients that they need a marketing plan and that part of their plan should include social media activity, they often ask “What should I do?” It strikes me as odd because the answer seems obvious – do the same things you would do to market your business if you didn’t use social media! But too often entrepreneurs look at something like contests as only a tactic to use on social media…and forget about using them everywhere else where it counts.
Do you see the distinction?
Social media is a tactic that can be used to help grow your business into an empire. If all you’re doing on social media is contests, creating video testimonials and using free coupons, then you’re missing out on opportunities for marketing success outside of social media!
How do you know if something should go in your marketing plan or in your social media plan? The answer is simple: Does this activity cost money? Then it should be done in a budgeted marketing plan. Does this activity have little or no cost attached to it and will only take a few minutes from my day? Then add it to your social media plan (which is one part of your marketing plan). Identifying the difference between what’s marketing and what’s social media is the first step to better marketing.
7. When to Hire a Professional for Help with Your Online Presence
To hire professionals in the online world, you will need to know how to identify them in order to make sure that they are qualified. You’ll want to make sure they have experience and expertise (those two are not the same thing) in what they do.
Prospective clients should look for evidence of previous projects completed, testimonials from previous clients, and willingness to answer any questions you may have about their work. The best way is to find someone who can give you faith in their ability based on past performance or personal interest in your project.
Marketing is a large part of any business plan and should always take priority over socials media efforts. The social media plan feeds into the marketing plan, which feeds into the overall business plan. A marketing expert will help you understand the distinction and work on a holistic strategy that takes all of those pieces into account.
The bottom line is that if you want your business grow, you need to take care of proper marketing first. You can use social media as a tool to increase awareness but don’t forget about other channels – they might bring extra results! So stop confusing social media with real marketing and start finding your real targets!
It’s time to stop confusing social media with real marketing and start finding your real targets!
When is the right time? As soon as you’re ready to free up some of your time that will allow you to focus on your zone of genius. I also have recommendations about whether you need to hire a “VA” or a marketing expert … there’s a difference between those two as well.
The most successful entrepreneurs use social media as the icing on their cake – they do not rely solely upon it for business growth. Smart marketers realize that hiring an agency or consultant who has experience implementing such strategies may be worth the investment if they want to see ROI from this channel. While there are many reasons why professionals help businesses grow through digital channels like social networks, three quick reasons are:
1) They understand how to drive traffic using proven tactics
2) They know which platforms work best for your particular business
3) They have a plan for growing your online presence and brand awareness while increasing customer loyalty
Tired of Trying to DIY Your Social Media?
One of the best things I’ve done is turn over the majority of my social media to my team. Yes, as a highly experienced marketer, I know how to run my own social media … but this saves me SO much time and presents a great ROI … plus lets me focus on those pieces of my business that only I can do.
We offer a range of high quality content and growth related services across the top social media networks. The easiest place to start is with our Monthly Social Media marketing packages.
Our work and recommendations always center around all of the marketing pieces that are best for your business – even when you only use us for one service.
Vicky is the CEO and Chief Creative Strategist of Vicky Wu Marketing. She draws from 30 years of experience at the CMO level, the CEO level, marketing for Fortune 500 companies and multi-million and multi-billion-dollar organizations, PLUS strategies learned helping startups and nonprofits with limited budgets … now focusing on providing SMBs with effective and efficient marketing strategies – giving them access to the same level of expertise as the really big guys with deep pockets, that they may not otherwise be able to access.