There once lived a young, curious fish. He was inclined to ask his older and wiser friend many questions.
"I always hear of this thing called the ocean," the young fish said. "What is it?"
"Why, the ocean is that which surrounds you on all sides," replied the older and wiser fish.
"That cannot be," protested the young fish. "If it truly surrounded me on all sides, I would be able to see it!"
"You cannot see it because the ocean is both within you and outside of you."
"But how can I tell if it exists if I cannot see it," asked the bemused young fish.
"You cannot see it, but you can feel it," replied the older fish.
This ancient Chinese parable was written to describe the ineffable force that connects all things, the implicate order of reality - the Tao. Simply put, Tao is essence.
Now that I've got your attention, let's discuss the Tao of social media. Getting to the essence (or Tao) of social media is about understanding connection and engagement. The purpose of using social media for your business is to connect with and engage your audience, create word-of-mouth activity for your business, generate leads and convert those leads into sales.
Social media has revolutionized the way we connect and share information. As social media has evolved, it has become increasingly recognized as a fixture rather than a trend. It is embedded in many dimensions of our day-to-day life and has profoundly affected the business sphere.
Consider the following stats regarding social media:
- 77% of B2C marketers say they have acquired a customer through Facebook
- 34% of marketers have generated leads through Twitter
- 77% of B2B marketers have acquired customers through LinkedIn
- LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook or Twitter
- 84% of B2B companies are using some form of social media marketing
- Social media produces double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or PPC.
- Social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than average lead conversion rates
Understanding that social media is here to stay, consider some of the benefits of incorporating social media into your marketing strategy:
1. Increased leads
2. Increased lead conversion
3. Sales growth
4. Increased exposure, word-of-mouth
5. Increased traffic, improved search engine rankings
6. Expand strategic alliances/ partnerships
From the emergent perspective, no longer are traditional marketing efforts sufficient. In fact, people are more impervious to advertising and being sold than ever before. In making their purchase decisions, people are reading blogs, checking out review sites and reading what their friends are posting on Facebook and Twitter.
Social media and digitization has in part empowered consumer behavior. Rather than relying primarily on the seduction of advertising, companies find they are competing in a testimony-driven community where products and services are openly shared, proselytized and in some cases persecuted. People share information about the products and services they like and use and in some cases those they do not favor. This word-of-mouth activity rewards companies that create value and arguably begets more integrity in markets. Of course this form of social exchange has always been basic to both human life and business; but never has it been so empowered, expedient and ubiquitous in real time.
Though crafting a social media strategy may be daunting to those who have yet to adopt it as part of their marketing strategy, a good place to start is creating a Facebook page for your business as well as a Twitter account. If you operate a B2B business, LinkedIn can be even more effective in creating strategic alliances and attracting clients.
Again, remember the function of social media marketing is to create connection and engagement that ultimately contributes to word-of-mouth activity for your business, attracts leads and converts those leads into sales. So what are some of the ways to achieve this?
1. Create contests and reward offerings through Facebook. Using landing pages can also be helpful along with distinct calls to action. An example of a call to action is subscribing by email to receive a free ebook or white paper.
2. Post interesting and engaging content that will compel your followers/ fans to share the information and participate on your page
3. Offer useful content that informs rather than sells. Especially if you are a B2B, creating and sharing content through blogs, video, ebooks, white papers can be helpful.
4. Use mixed media such as photo and video. Infographics can also be useful in condensing information into concise, palatable imagery that is more engaging. Consider posting videos through Instagram, YouTube. You may even consider a video podcast.
5. Let your followers and customers participate. Examples include allowing followers/ fans to vote on new products, services, etc. Listen to them- social media is not only a platform to dispense but to receive. You can gain valuable insight from your fans/ followers.
6. Form key relationships with potential strategic partners that offer complementary products/ services. Such partnerships can create more leads. LinkedIn is particularly effective in achieving this.
Through your social media efforts, be authentic. Do not attempt to project a false image, don't be afraid to show your or your business's unique personality, values and culture.
(tao of social media / shutterstock)