Social Media for Business – A primer
Whether you know it or not, people are talking about your business. If they have a great experience with you, they recommend you. If they have a bad experience with you, they complain about you. And more and more, people are talking about you on social media. Your customers are taking pictures, or even videos, of their purchases. Sometimes, they take pictures of your store or even record their conversations with you. And then, post them to their Facebook page or Instagram account, or send a tweet to Twitter, or write a review of you on Google Plus. And depending on who the customer is, their messages goes out to tens or hundreds or thousands of other people.
If the post “goes viral” and people see and repost the original, it can reach millions of people. And perhaps you have heard that it is possible, even easy, to get a lot of business from social media campaigns. Run a Facebook or LinkedIn ad campaign, put links to landing pages behind your Pinterest images, and watch the money pour in. On the other hand, social media will take some time to set up and run, some of your marketing budget to finance your campaigns, and some creativity to create your posts.
To be, or not to be social, That is the question
So the question as a business you want to ask yourself is, do you want to participate in social media? And if yes, how and how much?
Social media certainly has the potential to extend your digital reach and expand your business, but it takes resources. How do you decide how to participate, if at all? The first question you must answer is, are you willing to commit the resources necessary to do a good job. Remember, social media is a direct channel of communication between you and your audience, and like all communication channels, if it is done badly, it is worse than no communication channel at all.
We once worked with a pizza company who set up a Twitter channel and Facebook page so they could post this week’s Tuesday special, and articles about nutrition and changes in the menu.
They had the staff necessary to create and post the articles they wanted to distribute to their following. However, almost immediately, their customers used those communication channels to report problems with their orders. The company was not prepared to deal with those communications. The staff working on the posts worked standard office hours, but the complaints were coming in between 4.00 pm and 10.00 pm. No amount of value during the day could make up for the upsets during the dinner hours.
The two important things to remember is your social media channels need to be valuable, and it needs to be social. Following you on social media is voluntary. If they don’t like what they see, if you are not providing value, if you are doing nothing but promoting yourself, your followers will leave you. But you also have to interact with them. If they ask a question, you need to respond.
If they complain, you have to let them know they have been heard and you are working to resolve it. And be willing to re-post articles for others you think your audience will appreciate. Comment. Share. Communicate.
How to Decide
There are three reasons for going social: 1) provide value to your customers, prospects and stakeholders, 2) offer a communication channel to them, and 3) generate leads or sales. You cannot just do the third one. If all you try to do to is generate sales, without providing value and being in communication, you will fail. So if that is all you want, you should choose another vehicle. You should optimize your site for search visitors, or run digital advertising campaigns, or send offers, catalogues, or newsletters to your email marketing list.
On the other hand, if you go social to provide value and be in communication, then you can also, occasionally, promote yourself. In this case, the sales will come, but they will come slowly.
How slowly, you ask? Let’s run the numbers. Assume that between 1% and 3% of the people who see your offer click on the link to find out more. And assume that between 25% and 50% of the people who “click through” buy what is offered. For every 1,000 followers 10 to 30 will click through, and between 2 and 15 people will purchase. Because social media following grows slowly – adding 20 new followers per week is typical – it will take you about three months to grow each 1,000 followers, or about 4,000 new followers per year. Of course, you can do additional work to grow the following faster, using email, newsletter, blog posts, “like us to get this special”, etc. campaigns. Using these numbers, you will have 4,000 to 5,000 followers at the end if the first year, and these will give you between 8 and 75 sales per offer. However, your click through and conversion rates may be different, and even very different, depending on many, many factors.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that you grow your following to 5,000 in a year and that you get 50 sales (1% of your following) for each offer. What will it take to make social worth it?
Is it worth it?
There are two common strategies for making social media offers. First, provide value and be social and occasionally promote yourself with an offer, or second, provide nothing but offers, but make them worth it. Let’s look at these two cases.
If your strategy is to provide value to your followers, what you do is post articles that are of interest to them, and occasionally, promote something. A rule of thumb is that you cannot promote yourself more than bout 10% to 15% of the time. If you are posting once a day, then you can make an offer about once a week. Say it takes about an hour to create your article and post it.
Since you also want to be social, you should allow from 15 to 30 minutes a day to respond to your followers’ comments and questions, and to find and comment or share their articles on your page. That is 2 to 3 hours per week. To get 50 sales. Is it worth it?
The other strategy is to post only offers. This takes much less time, say 10 to 15 minutes each. But you run the risk of losing your following. Think of it from your point of view; how long would you continue to follow a social channel that was only a constant stream of advertisements? Your answer is either, “not long” or “it depends on how good the offers are”. That is, your offers have to generate the interest enough to continue to follow you.
The key here is to pick one approach and then measure the success. Have the links in your offers go to specific pages on your website so you can track the effectiveness of each. Then review the results regularly and make adjustments necessary.
But the better question is: Is it worth it for you to do it? While social media is a fascinating field, it takes skill to do it right. There are three aspects to a successful social media for business strategy:
- Grow your following
- Keep your following interested
- Convert your following into customers
Each of these requires different techniques, operates on a different schedule, and has different measures and analysis. And together, they take not an insignificant amount of time. In most cases, you are better off looking for a digital marketing expert to work with you on the strategy which includes who does what. Some providers can do it all for you. Others look to you for the content to post but do the rest.
First, decide if you want to participate at all. In most cases, a social media presence is a good idea for most businesses as it extends the brand and opens a channel of communication. Next, decide if you want it to be part of your marketing strategy, providing leads and sales. If the answer is yes, engage a digital marketing strategist to work with you on your strategy including setting reasonable expectations and timelines, who does what, and the nature and frequency of analysis reports.
Social media done well can be very productive in leads and sales. But it does not come for free. Good social campaigns are the result of a good strategy done well. While it is possible for you to do it yourself, the work and skill required for success will typically lead you to engage a digital marketing specialist to lead the way and share or do the work.
Need some help with your Social Media strategy? Contact us today: 1300 356 750 or [email protected] our team at Incredo Solutions will help your business reach a large audience in a cost-effective way by:
- drawing out a strategy based on your goals
- advising you about which channels are most suitable for your brand
- sharing insights on the tone, frequency and type of content best suited for different channels
Social media marketing is all about starting up a conversation and maintaining open lines of communication with your ideal audience.