iDirect has participated in social media marketing for years and has grown several strong social networks of partners and industry experts. As I mentioned in my previous article, ‘iDirect is active in social media’, the desire to receive real-time information and to receive it via multiple methods is exactly why iDirect launched itself into social media back in 2008. We want our marketing communications to reach as many partners and potential customers as possible and to do so in real-time to educate and facilitate discussion. We also want to enable our partners and potential customers to more easily communicate with us. Becoming active in social media has allowed iDirect to do both.
Many wonder how social media marketing (SMM) can help their business. The biggest benefit to social media marketing is increased exposure, with 85% of surveyed companies listing it as their top benefit. Other benefits include increased traffic, marketplace insight, lead generation, loyal fan base and improved search rankings. SMM has become so effective that most companies are increasing their SMM budgets while choosing not to go with traditional marketing and advertising. For example, 75% of marketers have no plans for TV ads, 67% will not do radio ads and 42% have no plans to use print ads.
According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 94% of companies are utilizing social media for marketing, and 83% of them report that social media is important to them. So the real question is, is it important to your company? The answer should be YES! Social media is not the latest teenager fad. Social media is business and it isn’t something to be afraid of. SMM can help grow your business and you should be participating.
SMM isn’t solely for consumer based businesses. In fact, 51% of participants of the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report were business to business users (B2B), while 49% operated in business to consumer (B2C) environments. A variety of B2B organizations participate in SMM, from the small office/home office crowd to Fortune 100 companies. Don’t get left behind; it’s not too late to activate a SMM plan.
There are a number of social media outlets with new ones popping up all of the time. So on which ones do you choose to focus your attention? Facebook continues to dominate SMM with 92% of marketers using their site and 72% of marketers planning to increase their Facebook activities. With their recent acquisition of Instagram and planned initial public offering, they’ll continue to dominate SMM for years to come. Twitter and LinkedIn are also incredibly popular with 82% and 73% of marketers using those sites, respectively. Other popular SMM outlets include blogs, YouTube and the newer, but growing social site Google+ (pronounced Google Plus). In 2012, 68% of marketers plan to blog more, 67% plan to become more active on Google+, and 66% will use increase their LinkedIn use. What will you be doing?
The amount of time and effort you put into SMM should be based on your business and customers’ needs. Over 60% of surveyed companies spend between 5 and 10 hours a week solely on social media activities and nearly 11% spend between 11 and 15 hours a week. Thought should be put into your produced content, how you integrate SMM with the rest of your marketing and business activities, and the frequency in which you distribute information. Also, how you should interact with your followers and fans needs to be considered. It’s good to connect directly with your network and assist them with their questions; it helps humanize your business. Often, the bigger the business, your customers can feel just like a number. By connecting with them directly via SMM, it personalizes the conversation as well as your company.
Social media marketing is not only the latest way to market your brand, it’s how today’s business is conducted. One thing industry experts agree on is that social media marketing’s growth and attention as a main marketing focus is only going to increase in the coming years. With 1 out of every 8 people on Earth using Facebook and Twitter producing 200 million new tweets a day, how can you afford not to participate in social media marketing?
Getting Started – Top 5 Tips
- Define your social media marketing goals – what do you want to accomplish (solicit feedback, distribute information, lead generation, etc.)?
- Determine your audience – are you speaking to existing customers, trying to attract new customers or both?
- Create content and determine the frequency of which to distribute content and communicate via SMM. Some companies post several times a day while others post once a week. There’s no magic number in terms of frequency, as SMM is part art, part science. Test out different frequencies as well as different times of day to determine which yields the best response from your audience. The biggest reason social media outlets and blogging can fail is due to a lack of new and relevant content.
- Create social media accounts and set up your pages. Registering for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and others is free. Once created, customize your page with your logo, graphics and ‘about us’ information. Familiar yourself with how each site works and how people communicate on the different platforms.
- Attract followers, fans and users to your social media outlets. Start by adding social icons to your emails, newsletters and website that link to your social media pages. You can also add links to your email signatures, business cards, print advertising and materials. Also, actively promote on your social media pages that you’re active on the other social media networks.