Social media can be used effectively to drive sales.
Because it helps you distribute marketing messages further, faster, and cheaper than ever before.
But most companies struggle, or don't see any return at all.
The reason has nothing to do with how many hashtags you use, or how often you update Facebook.
And everything to do with execution on one -- or all -- of these three tactics.
One of the best ways to see quick growth is to "piggyback" off other sources.
This could be something simple like your existing website traffic or customer database. Simply funnel these people to your social media accounts, to increase engagement and drive up the lifetime value of each customer.
But beyond that, you can use online business development to find partners who will promote you to their audience.
Maybe you can help them with a technical problem, or maybe you agree to run a promotion and donate free products in exchange for their promotion. Either way, you want to identify people - bloggers, companies, nonprofits, etc. - who share your target customers.
Then come up with creative ways to partner and provide long-term value. It could be something simple like sponsoring a blogger to provide "advertorials".
Because when used correctly, advertising can be extremely effective...
Contrary to what "social media experts" think, advertising is still a great way to get more traffic, leads and customers.
And because social advertising is new, it's a really good investment. For example, you can get targeted clicks for a dollar or less.
But social media doesn't convert well directly. So instead, use an incentive to increase your conversion rate.
Maybe that means a holiday discount or free shipping. Or you can try using exclusive content or convenience. The type of incentive depends on your business and customers.
But no matter what incentive you try, it's important to recognize that the best ads are content and rely heavily on copywriting (with specific themes, hooks and triggers).
Which brings us to the last point...
"Content marketing" is a buzzword that starting to make the rounds online. But it's far from a trend.
Content-driven marketing has helped fuel some of the biggest brands in the world, including Coca-Cola and Apple.
Online, content can give you multiple returns. It can increase your brand awareness, help you get links for SEO, generate retention with email marketing, and position your content to "go viral" in social media.
But it's not that easy... because you can't churn out an article in 15 minutes and expect it to move people. And you can't pay $10 per post and assume traffic will just start pouring in.
There are specific elements that separate the PROs from the amateurs. So you can take the time and invest to acquire the skills needed. Or you can pay handsomely for it.
Each of these tactics work differently for different people. It depends a lot on your business, market positioning, and customers.
But the one thing each have in common is that they all will cost you something. Which might disappoint some people... because contrary to popular belief, social media isn't free.
Profitable partnerships can take months or years to payoff. Advertising requires capital up-front. And success with content marketing depends on your skill and expertise.
And if you want to get to the next level and use social media to get more customers, then you'll need to invest appropriately.