From Myspace, to Facebook, Twitter and sites that are still up-and-coming, social media marketing has evolved into something that is more than a place for the posting of funny cat videos and sharing family vacation photos – it can be used for enhancing your own brand or business at a more personal level. With this being the age of all things digital and social, using these sites for business is a smart way to increase exposure to a larger, more personal audience. The issue with this is that some people seem to forget to consider when thinking about using social media for business is including it in their budget.
Although it may be free to start a page for your business, advertisements do cost money, and factoring this cost into your budget must be considered for effective marketing. It is also not something that should be thought of as a quick addition to any kind of marketing campaign – social media takes time and manpower to build as a helpful tool for increasing the productivity of your business or brand.
Today, nearly everyone is involved in some sort of social media. Whether it is as simple as having a Facebook for sharing pictures, to writing for a daily blog, social media is something that has become part of everyday life for a large percentage of people. These digital platforms can be more informal and come across to a larger crowd, while also appealing to a more relaxed audience all at the same time. Information is pushed across the digital realm in a quicker, more efficient way while allowing for it to be up to date and keeping up with the times. For example, if something were to happen or needed to be shared with the audience of your business the moment it happens, news could be spread in nearly real time. Obviously, this can be incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons for your business.
A website or app, such as Twitter, allows for a more personal approach to pushing out content. On Twitter, followers may favorite, retweet, quote, and respond to a tweet with ease. This creates a more personal atmosphere that may be created without having to deal with the hassle of the phone or email. It is informal, so responses can be quick and to the point, while still getting results. Many people like this for business due to the fact that it somewhat humanizes the company. For smaller companies, this creates a brand image and more social networking for future and potential customers, all while helping with website traffic and explaining what the company is capable of. This also gives larger companies a chance to put off the smaller business feel, while still allowing for the recognition of the large-name brand.
Another thing to note when considering social media is that if you are not on it, your competitor is. A huge percentage of the general public is on the Internet regularly, and with a large percentage of those people actively on social media, it gives more people a chance to learn about your business. The average person checks their various social media accounts several times a day, and with your company being on these same sites it makes for a convenient place to further promote and market. Being on these sites also boosts your brand name in search engines, which creates more results and places where potential customers can hear about you.
In conjunction with your complete marketing strategy, social media can raise the overall value of your company while keeping costs at a minimum. Joining these websites will cause not just a noticeable amount of increased website traffic, but a quantum leap. If one of your posts are shared by fan or audience member, all of their followers or friends will be able to view the post, and they may share it – this creates an exponentially growing base of people who are seeing your information and getting your business name out there. There are also sites, such as StumbleUpon, which allow customers to literally “stumble” onto your website after creating a profile which is tailored to their specific interests. This obviously creates a better chance for the people who are already interested in the genre in which your brand is located to see your website. These sites can be just as helpful as things such as Twitter and Facebook, and help to ensure that other people that share the same interests as your company see you.
This form of marketing is much more inclusive for everyone involved as well. Employees and staff can be more involved with the communication aspect of the company, while teaching the general audience about said brand or company. This allows for the building of a digital community on a grander scale. On the contrary, the consumers can tell a company directly, via Facebook wall or Twitter for example, exactly what they want and what they think. This opens the channel for a direct connection between the company and the consumer. They may tell you how much they adore a product of service, or how much they may hate it and what needs to be improved. The audience can let you know exactly what they want and why they want it – just ask a question or for opinions on a social media site, and you will get responses.
The next question normally asked when it comes to advertising on social media is if it is actually worth it to pay for advertisements on an otherwise free site. The answer is yes, you should. Leaving room in your budget for these sites allows for a whole other realm of audiences to be found. As an example in the most traditional way, a post is put on Facebook, pushed into the newsfeeds of the people who have liked the page, and only seen those same people. There is no new audience, nor is there any chance for a real increase in visits because these people have already seen your information. When someone pays the fee for a promoted post or page, this shows up in newsfeeds of people that may have not liked the page, but have similar interests of your company. With costs starting at as little as ten dollars for promoted posts on Facebook, this form of effective marketing is affordable for nearly every budget. In comparison to the cost of a traditional marketing scheme, this is a more “bang for your buck” deal, which allows the marketing of your company to be enhanced on a social platform.
Within your social media budget, search engine optimization and tools for social media must also be considered in addition to actual advertisements. SEO must be considered for your website to rank higher and receive more traffic, which promotes your business. Tools are available to make your life on these social media sites much easier as well. Sites such as Hootsuite, SocialBro, ManageFlitter, and many others offer an easier way to create, schedule, and manage content in a more streamline way. Buffer is also a good tool to consider, as it allows you to schedule and put content into queues for pushing out at a later date. Using these tools also gives you a way to look at the analytics and statistics of your visitors. These are a must for any social media marketing strategy and will help you exponentially.
Allowing for the space in your budget for social media marketing will be a strategy that will pay for itself many times over. These platforms can increase exposure and create a more human forum as a direct connection with your clientele or intended audience. If social media is something that you are already doing in your marketing strategy, considering the use of paid advertisements can greatly increase your results with minimum financial impact. To put it simply, if you aren’t advertising on social media, you are letting customers walk out the virtual door.