If you have been around for a while in the world of online business, you’ve surely come to think that you’ve heard all about social media marketing, or at least you’re surrounded by all sorts of experts and gurus who claim to know SMM like the back of their hands. The fact is, they’re either lying to get your money or overestimating their abilities and skills. Nobody can claim they know everything about social media marketing, for one simple reason: it has never stopped evolving. SMM is still changing and growing, and it may never stop.
If anything, marketers and social media gurus should stand on their toes waiting for the next trends to take the place of last year’s “groundbreaking” features. Also, they should reconsider their long-held opinion that social media marketing is easy, expecting profits to increase direct proportional to the number of “Share” buttons they put on every piece of content they publish online. Sure, compared to traditional advertising, SMM may not require as much knowledge – nor as much money, but you will need the right tools, strategies, and a sizeable budget to raise your brand awareness and help your customers find you. Here are five important things you probably didn’t know about social media marketing – it’s up to you to put them to good use:
You Have to Spend in Order to Earn
The most successful companies nowadays have a deep understanding and appreciation of effective marketing. Seeing the many benefits of social media marketing, email marketing, search marketing, local SEO, and mobile advertising, many have shifted from traditional to digital: currently, the average USA Digital Marketing spending is 21 percent of total advertising, but it’s expected to increase to 35% by 2016.
Unlike conventional forms of advertising, internet marketing requires a lot of planning, testing, and ongoing maintenance. The internet marketing costs of a business with an annual revenue of $500,000 would amount to little over $15,000 per year, but the investment ultimately depends on your industry, location, and competition. One thing’s for sure: marketing is the fuel for your business, not cure, so stopping to invest in it once you get successful will lead you straight to perish.
You Cannot Get Away with Low-Quality Content
Bad times are coming – if they haven’t already – for low-quality content aggregators and black-hat internet marketers: the pandas, penguins, and hummingbirds are seeing to it, targeting spammy search queries, link-building schemes, and keyword stuffing. Time and again, Google has reiterated its zero-tolerance policy for low-quality content, mercilessly punishing anyone who is trying to game the system.
The key to survival on the web is, thus, producing high-quality content that’s first of all relevant to people. Start by getting to know your audience and make sure you are constantly delivering compelling, diverse, and valuable content. Engage them by educating and entertaining them, rather than pitching for your products and services, and you will rapidly win them over for good.
Quantity Matters Almost as Much as Quality
Of course, quality is of utmost importance, but the frequency and timing of sharing that quality are almost as important. HubSpot has a very comprehensive and in-depth guide on how to figure out what timing and frequency result in the best outcomes for content shares on social media channels. The general rules are to schedule your shares depending on the amount of content in your audience’s stream, increase your publishing frequency gradually, and then compare activity levels on a week-to-week basis. According to their data, you will also get better results if you post at certain times during the day and week: late in the afternoon, for Twitter, and on weekends, for best results on Facebook.
Engagement Is Critical
The formula is simple: effective social interaction leads to greater engagement and increased social signals, which in turn pushes you up in the SERPs and enhances your visibility online. What a lot of companies forget is to focus not on self-promotion and the benefits of their products/services, but on engaging customers – that’s what ultimately generates higher corporate performance and superior competitive advantage. To that end, you must take a real interest in your customers’ needs, engage in two-way conversations, keep all your promises, and maintain a genuine enthusiasm in helping the members of your community solve their most pressing problems.
Social Media Marketing Is Social, but It’s Also Marketing
Sure, you need plenty of writing skills and experience to be able to craft concise, relevant, and engaging content to post on social media, making sure it speaks directly to your audience. You also need strong copywriting techniques to create quality content seasoned with irresistible calls to action. However, you must also know a lot of things about consumer behavior, creating strong relationships with your customers, and figuring out what drives them to buy your product. In short, you need great marketing skills and plenty of tools and resources to influence an audience.
Social media marketing can do wonders for your business: it can build you a stellar reputation, shape your customer base, give you plenty of options to market your products, and secure your company’s future success. All you have to do is do it right.