It is evident that marketing, online and conventional, is undergoing a transition all over the world. With the popularization of Social Media, many businesses are turning to the internet to facilitate growth.
Internet marketing, in the form of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay per Click (PPC) advertising, has been around for quite some time and has proven to be the most targeted marketing strategy with the highest return on investment by far. Now Social Media has been thrown into the mix, and everyone wants to get in on the action, but very few really know how, when or what Social Media marketing actually entails and how it should be used.
Social Media has evolved from experimental sharing of pictures and keeping up with family and friends to an integral part of the Marketing Mix. What many once called “a passing fad” has turned into one of the most powerful mediums to build your business brand, communicate with potential clients and market your business to the masses at a fraction of the cost of conventional marketing. The question now however is: “How do I integrate Social Media Marketing as part of my existing online marketing campaign?”
The Good News
Networking has always played an integral part of running and building a business. Creating connections that will benefit your business over the short and long term is essential. Social Media connects the world and allows you to network much more effectively with potential clients, business partners, business mentors and other stakeholders.
Social Media is a brilliant avenue for building brand awareness and getting your name out there if you are a small business. You may also be able to identify those influential industry leaders, communicate, share and possibly get recommendations that could mean big business for you.
What you may not want to hear, but should listen to
Social Media is not just about creating a Facebook page and sharing a few links or setting up a Twitter account and tweeting when you feel like it. Social Media marketing requires creativity, dedication and constant participation on your part and that of your employees. (Yes, giving your employees access to social media is essential!)
- Firstly you will need to define what a successful social media campaign means to you. Do you want to create buzz around a new product, build overall brand awareness, generate more traffic to your website, etc.
- What message does your brand convey, or what message do you want to associate with your brand? What do people know you for? Is it great service, unique offerings or whatever makes your brand unique? Identify who you are and tell the world.
- You will need a well thought out strategy and clearly defined and achievable goals for your social media campaign.
- Who is your target market and where do they hang out? In other words, which Social Media platforms will you use? Don’t try and utilize as many platforms as possible when you start out.
- Identify the big players in the communities you have selected. You need the backing of the big guys to get noticed. It’s not called Social Media for nothing, so be social.
- BE HUMAN! Engage users with your personality and uniqueness.
- Who will be actively engaging which platform? Will you be using one brand based account for all your Social Media profiles that will be used by multiple persons? Will each employee have their own ‘personal’ business profile? You will also need to set rules of what can be said and who can actually say it.
- Now you need to be able to track and monitor your campaign progress. How can you determine whether you reach your short and long term goals without effective tracking?
- Keep in mind that everything will not be smooth sailing all the way. There will be customers that weren’t happy with your service or product and will call you out. How will you handle that?
Integration of Social Media in the Marketing Mix
Effective Online Marketing does not rely on one strategy or element of the marketing mix, but should rather be an integrated mix of multiple strategies such as SEO, PPC, Email Marketing, Banner advertising, Google Product Listings, Social Media, etc. Your chosen mix of marketing strategies will depend heavily on your industry, business offering and target market.
Use the holistic approach to Internet Marketing and reap the rewards for your efforts.