Over the past several years social media has grown to become a weapon of choice for many marketers. Current industry paradigms have done nothing to halt that trend, instead, dominant marketing strategies have only made social media more and more important.
Inbound marketing. Even if you haven’t run into the term before, there’s a good chance you’re already practising it. Inbound marketing is a philosophy based around attracting customers to your company via quality content creation and distribution. Channels such as blogs, slideshows, podcasts, and even real-time video a la Periscope have become enormously successful marketing tools when wielded correctly.
And as you might guess, social media plays a crucial role for the inbound marketer. A recent HubSpot survey found that social media remains one of the real pillars of a successful marketing strategy, with over 80% of polled inbound professionals agreeing that social channels were becoming increasingly important – only SEO ranked more highly.
So, how can you make the most out of that opportunity?
Start a Blog
…if you haven’t already. If you have, make further efforts to integrate it with your social efforts. As effective as social media in any form can be, it reaches its greatest height as a means of distributing original company content.
Blogging actually topped HubSpot’s list of crucial inbound projects, as marketers who did publish were 13 times more likely to see positive ROI than those who didn’t.
Offer an Obvious Value Proposition
It’s oft-repeated advice for social media experts, heck; it’s something I frequently say to myself: “don’t sell over social media”. I firmly believe that the core of this sentiment is true; if you have the chance to engage with customers, be genuine, not pushy or overly focused on a conversion.
But there’s one huge exception to the rule. Believe it or not, deals remain one of the primary reasons that customers engage with brands over social media. There’s an argument here over how valuable these mercenary followers are, and if your primary concern is recruiting brand advocates, this might not be your best option.
However, if you’re concerned with follower count and sales? Try offering semi-regular discounts. Research by IBM showed that 61% of social media users still follow primarily in search of deals. In fact, discounts and purchasing were the top two reasons that customers cited for following brands – despite the fact that when brands were asked why they thought customers engaged with them, they put those two reasons firmly at the bottom.
So as nice as an idealistic “community first” campaign sounds, it’s important to understand that an awful lot of people don’t care about meeting you, or your other customers, they just want a good deal.
When we’re talking about shareability, photos dominate. Analysis done by Social Media Examiner on Facebook and Twitter showed that this wasn’t exactly a minor trend, either. Photos had an 87% share rate on Facebook – no other content type even broke double digits. On Twitter, adding a photo gave marketers an average 35% boost to retweets.
Dramatic, to say the least. Also, keep in mind that photos offer an incredible means of social share through tagging systems. One trick that I don’t see enough from Twitter marketers is the use of photo tags. Start using them, and you get to save some of your precious characters and get some visual content and shoot a tweet directly at about as many people as you’d like. Doesn’t get much better than that.
We’re in a time of unprecedented growth and change in the social media industry, so if I had to leave you with a final piece of advice, here it is: don’t rest on your laurels. Realize how fast all of this can change. Of the statistics I’ve shown you, none are more than a few years old, and even they may be on the brink of obsolescence, all thanks to the speed at which this field can change.
Let’s take an ongoing problem that we know could create disruption – Twitter’s current difficulties as a public company. Their thrashings have already created the promise of Project Lightning, which could completely turn social media coverage of events on its head, and it’s likely just the tip of a highly unpredictable iceberg.
Take my word for it, don’t get complacent.
Charles Dearing is a blogger and writer with years of experience as a marketer. He writes for patientsites as well as business blogs and publications around the web.