It’s 2018 and social media marketing has finally claimed its rightful place within the marketing world; business owners and executives are no longer able to deny social media marketing is a legitimate and successful medium. However, this awareness does not necessarily translate into action.
At least 24 percent of small businesses are reported to have absolutely no social media presence. Despite an understanding of the importance of social media in modern marketing, some businesses still chose to avoid it, thinking the effort may not be worth the return.
There is no excuse for avoiding social media if you run a business; customers expect today’s businesses to be supported by social channels. Budget and company size restrictions were not valid excuses in the past, but with Facebook's new algorithm changes - businesses, especially small businesses have to pay to play. That doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a shot though, the smaller your marketing budget, the more crucial it is that social media marketing is a part of your strategy because it's a lot less expensive and trackable than traditional marketing.
Facebook Algorithm Changes:
On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize content from friends, family, and groups. Which means Facebook users will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media; meaning businesses will most likely see a significant decrease in organic reach (meaning posts we just share on your feed without paying to boost them). While it's not going to be a major problem for larger businesses, like Target, it will negatively affect small businesses that have less engagement on their pages and smaller audience sizes. By implementing this algorithm, Facebook is not only trying to prioritize personal content over public but is also driving businesses to actually utilize paid social promotions.
Despite these changes here's 5 reasons why you cannot avoid social media marketing today, and why it pays to "pay to play".
Reason 1: Customers want to complain
Customers have come to expect that the businesses they frequent have social media pages where they can voice their complaints, especially if customer service channels prove futile.
Over the past few years, social media analysts have reported steady increases in the number of complaints coming through social channels: primarily Facebook and Twitter. In 2016 Sprout Social reported that 90 percent of surveyed consumers look to social media for communication with a brand, with 34.5 percent preferring social media to traditional channels. In my experience, customers looking to return an item or file a complaint on a product may use a traditional channel first, but head to social channels when their issue has not been addressed. Chances are that customers looking to complain on social media are already irate, and quite willing to air your dirty laundry in public.
Ensuring that customers have an easy process through which they can complain and voice their concerns is important for three specific reasons:
- You are granted the opportunity to convert an irate customer into a loyal one if you’re able to successfully tackle their problem.
- You can nip an irate customer’s complaints in the bud and prevent them from using their own social media to broadcast their anger and negatively impact your brand.
- Negative customer feedback can provide significant business insight that may help with decision making.
Reason 2: You can capture conversions with Ads
Would you ever turn down easy money? Well as long as you’re stalling on the creation of social media accounts, that’s what you’re doing! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat; these platforms provide excellent opportunities for conversions with some effort. Ads on social media are proven to increase sales and customer profitability. So why wait?
The return on investment for social media ads is unbeatable. Think about this: on Facebook (an entry-level, easy-to-use platform), desktop ads are 8.1 times more likely to be clicked than traditional web ads. Mobile ads surpass that with 9.1 times higher click through rate. A Marketing Sherpa report notes a 450% ROI increase for Gravity Defyer (a shoe retailer), once the company began utilizing Facebook organic for content sharing, and Facebook advertising.
Worried about the cost? No need. If you don’t have the resources to hire a digital advertiser to manage the accounts, you can go with the set-it-and-forget-it method. You simply create a few ads (general targeting or retargeting), set a budget with which you’re comfortable, and leave it. Peek in every so often to ensure you turn off dud ads.
Reason 3: Time is money and social media advertising saves you time
According to Hubspot, 84 percent of marketers were able to increase their traffic with only 6 hours of paid social media efforts. There are several ways to harness social media and stretch your dollar:
- Content sharing: Demonstrate knowledge of your industry by publishing relevant articles on your website. Use Facebook or Twitter as a means of distributing your articles to your audience. If successful, you can save a lot of money by cutting traditional marketing options – such as radio, newspaper, magazines or direct mail – from your strategy.
- Boosting performers: If any of your organic content is performing well - throw $10-$20 at is as a boosted post to see if you can expand your reach. You’re guaranteed a wider audience and that will allow you to glean additional insights into your potential patient market. Plus, costs are low. A Lyfe Marketing study found that social media had the lowest CPM (cost per thousand customers) at $2.50.
- Analyze success. Repeat: One of my favorite things about social media marketing is that I can access analytics to find out what’s performing and why. You can easily cut costs by optimizing your ad performance and focusing in on the posts or ads that are performing well, without wasting money on ads that are clearly not converting.
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Reason 4: Brand Legitimacy
This one is simple: ignoring social media sends a strong signal about your brand and marketing savvy. If you’re a B2B company, a lack of social media presence may decrease other businesses confidence in your marketing and technology skills. As a B2C company, you may lose legitimacy in the eyes of customers who view social media as old hat and a basic expectation of a company doing business in the 21st century. Furthermore, the ability to set a tone for your customers through your posts and communicate with them in real time adds a layer of intimacy to your customer relationship that confirms your credibility.
Social media accounts can also augment your legitimacy through an appearance in search results. Although Google no longer uses social media signals to boost your search rankings (or so says Google’s Matt Cutts), your social profiles can indeed display when a customer is searching your company, allowing your customers to find other means of determining your credibility. By ensuring your have relevant content displayed on your pages, and responses to customer concerns, you’ll be able to assuage any customer worries and curiosities.
Reason 5: Brand Ambassadors
Sometimes, customers just want to show you some love. They may wish to share your page with their friends or tag their friends on relevant posts. You can plan social campaigns that encourage customers to share posts and/or comment on them as a way of increasing visibility within their network. By taking any of these actions, customers are serving as brand ambassadors. A Sprout Social report in 2016 notes that about 21 percent of people surveyed have followed brands on social media simply because their friends were engaged with that brand. Customers are excellent brand advocates as their friends are likely to trust them and view them as credible sources.
If you’re diligent about responding to customer concerns, complaints and queries you can gain a customer’s loyalty and their active advocacy. Customers who have positive experiences with your brand may take to the web to evangelize. Just imagine the impact a celebrity endorsement could have on your brand should such an influencer stumble upon your product/service and use it or include it within a social post. Without social accounts, your company is denied the opportunity to gain free advertising through willing brand ambassadors.
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