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Features Business Marketing
Seven steps to leverage social media into real results


August 16, 2013
By Natalie Henley

Topics

August 16, 2013 – Investing in marketing campaigns can be a
nerve-wracking decision for many small and medium sized businesses. CEOs
and marketing directors know that when you have limited resources, you
must be strategic with your budget, and every marketing investment has
to pay off. This is why social media campaigns tend to be the first
thing cut.

Although free to setup, social media campaigns take valuable staff
resources to manage, and the ROI is not as apparent. While launching a
social media campaign likely won’t bring leads and sales pouring in your
door tomorrow, when you implement a few social media success
strategies, you’ll find it much easier to drive a positive ROI with
social that benefits your organization for years to come. 

1. Reframe your outlook

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Many
businesses fail at social media because they think it means Facebook or
Twitter. Social media is actually much more than that. Rather than
putting labels on social media, think of it as a concept. Social media
is actually about engaging with your audience in a broader way.

Traditional
media has always been one directional—you place an ad, the customer
calls, and you have an offline private conversation. Social media is the
first time where businesses can interact with their community in a
public online forum. That openness and transparency is scary to many
business owners, but it’s exactly what customers crave.

2. Start small

As
you delve into social media, begin with the platforms that can make the
biggest difference for you. Usually, this means starting with the three
main platforms that can drive results and interaction: Facebook,
LinkedIn, and YouTube. Depending on your business model, there may be
others; however, if you are just getting started, this is a great set to
begin with.

  • Facebook: Facebook has a high
    adoption rate and people of all ages spend time on this social media
    platform, thus giving you great exposure.
  • LinkedIn: While
    LinkedIn is not consumer-focused like Facebook, it can help with B2B
    sales, vendor connections, recruiting, and other business needs.
  • YouTube: Although
    a bigger investment than the others, consumers resonate with different
    types of content, and YouTube videos tend to pay off in the long term.

3. Don’t be boring

Guess
what? Your brand, services, mission statement, and corporate values are
boring. Although they may represent you as a company, they don’t
represent the human element and personality of your team. Social media
is about not only building a community, but also engaging your
customers. Doing that requires that you show some serious personality.

For
example, if you’re located in a city that has an NFL football team, you
can support the local team as part of your company’s personality. Or,
if you’re a family-oriented company, you can post updates about your
“Take Your Kids to Work Day” and include photos of the event. In
essence, it’s about strategically deciding what your company’s culture
or persona will be and then posting interesting content that relates to
that. This means getting outside your comfort zone and talking about
things that interest you as a company, not about your industry,
products, and services.

4. Don’t over-invest
 

As
you delve into social media, don’t rush out and hire a full-time person
to manage it. Instead, start by looking around your company and finding
someone (or a team of people) interested in the additional
responsibility. Chances are you have someone personally involved in
social media who would love to have this as part of their job
description. As your social media presence grows and becomes successful,
you can see the business case for growing the department.

5. Look beyond the “likes”

 
Judging
a social media campaign solely by the size of your Facebook likes is a
bit backwards. Although “likes” can be a good indicator of success, a
new Facebook like won’t feed your sales team’s families. In order to
measure a successful social campaign, here are a few of the major
metrics that social media can influence, and that you can measure:

  • Reach, Likes, and Shares – These soft metrics of social let you know you are keeping your audience engaged.
  • Social
    referral traffic and goal completions Measured through Google
    Analytics, you can figure out who is coming from social media and either
    buying something or filling in a lead form on your website. Cha-ching!.
  • Social media leads – Yes, you can drive business leads from prospects straight on social media.
  • Increased
    search engine rankings and new inbound links – Having a presence on
    social media can have a huge effect on any other organic or SEO programs
    you are running. Social media can be a key component of driving search
    engine traffic to your website. 
  • Increases in branded traffic –
    If you are keeping your audience engaged and getting prospects “warmed
    up” on social, you should see an increase of consumers searching for
    your brand in search engines. This can be measured by Google Analytics.

6. Measure your results based on goals

Now
that you know that results are more than just “likes,” decide how you
are going to measure results before you start any social media activity,
as well as the specific metrics you’ll use to determine success. Social
media is just like any other marketing initiative, which means you have
to answer some key questions, such as “Why are we doing this?” and
“What are we hoping to get from it?” 

Each business will have
its own definition of social media success. For one business, a metric
like sales or leads is vital. Other businesses focus more on market
share. Decide before you start what’s important to you. For a free
measurement tool, use Google Analytics. For standardized reports,
consider using an out-of-the box report suite, such as Sprout Social or
Raven Tools.

7. Commit to it
 
Too often, a small-
or medium-sized business sets up a Facebook page, goes gung-ho with it
for a few weeks, and then gets busy and forgets about it. That sends a
negative message about the business. To avoid this scenario, start small
with activity you can handle and stick with it. Post something daily,
or at the very least weekly so your company can stay relevant.

Additionally,
make sure what you’re doing looks professional by getting custom
banners to match your website. If you are pinching pennies and don’t
have a designer in-house for custom designs, you can get something that
looks reasonable on sites like Fiverr, or something that looks very professional on sites like 99 Designs. Both are better than just “winging it”.
 
Social
media can be one of the best investments your company makes. The key is
to be smart about it and to treat it like any other business activity.
So if you’ve attempted social media in the past but let it go by the
wayside, or if you haven’t embarked on this journey yet, now is the time
to take the plunge and get on the social media platforms. By following
these strategies, you’ll find social media to be a rewarding, enjoyable
and profitable endeavor.

Natalie Henley is the vice-president
of client services at Volume 9 Inc. Volume 9 creates custom search
marketing campaigns for clients, including a mix of SEO, paid search
management, social media, local search marketing and website development
for over 100 clients and 200 managed websites. Natalie and Volume 9’s
enterprising team leverage search marketing into real bottom line
results for their clients’ businesses. They were recently honored by
both the Inc. 5,000 and the
Denver Business Journal as one of the fastest growing companies in Denver, and in the US. For more information, please visit www.volume9inc.com.


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