Social media is playing an increasingly vital role in business marketing. Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized businesses (and a few large corporations) are not getting nearly as much out of their social media marketing efforts as they should be. In short, social media is proving to be a bust.
Broadly speaking, many companies are failing to convert on social media because of they are not using it to build brand advocacy, drive web traffic, and generate leads.
WEAK BRAND ADVOCACY
Loyalty and trust play a big part in social media success. Businesses should use social media to build brand advocates. Social media marketing gives companies exponential reach, empowering brands to leverage their content and messaging more efficiently than other marketing channels.
The Internet rewards reach. The more social media followers you have, the more your content spreads, and the more impact you have on results in search engines, but many of them might be able to share content or take an action online that could refer a customer.¹
Social Media Examiner's recent survey of social media marketers found 85% indicating that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses.²
Many companies are under-utilizing the potential reach of their social media. They should be promoting their social media channels as aggressively as possible. They can do so by optimizing each page to speak their company's target audience, sharing valuable content their audience finds useful, adding social share buttons on their website, blog, and all offline marketing pieces, emailing existing customers to encourage them to interact with their social media, and interacting with fans and followers.
FAILURE TO DRIVE WEB TRAFFIC
Social media is the new promotion. Companies that do not integrate their website and social media are blowing a huge opportunity to drive web traffic. Increasing web traffic was the second major benefit of social media, according to social media marketers polled in SM Examiner's study.
Social media channels can be used to bring relevant visitors to your website - visitors who will convert into customers. In fact, that same study noted that 74% of marketers interviewed found a substantial increase in website traffic with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing. ²
Prospects who have enjoyed what you have to offer on social media can be encouraged to share their experiences with friends via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest etc. This will increase web traffic and bring more relevant visitors to your website. In this way, social media acts as a referral service for your business.
Businesses should also integrate their social media marketing efforts with their website marketing and existing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Integrate your website content campaigns with your social media by offering web content on social media and using the same SEO keyword list to optimize its performance across all channels. Doing this will help ensure your SEO, website content, blogging, and social media efforts are all working in concert.
POOR LEAD GENERATION
The best source of a website lead is a recently-satisfied convert from one of your social media channels. Looking at data from 2011, inbound marketing experts Hubspot did a study of 3,000+ B2B businesses to understand how their companies were succeeding with social media. The data revealed that 63% of B2B businesses were not generating leads from social media. While these companies were generating traffic from social media channels, they were not converting that traffic into leads for their businesses.³
The main culprit was a lack of calls-to-action (CTAs) and landing pages. In other words, companies were not providing prospects a clear path to deeper engagement. This can be easily remedied by placing CTAs on every piece of content you publish on social channels. These CTAs should be linked to landing pages with forms to collect new leads. Each offer should have its own unique CTA and landing page that is promoting a specific offer such as an ebook, free consultation, demo, webinar, etc.
When it comes to marketing, social media is about lead generation. Building communities online and educating leads is important, but if you don't present lead conversion opportunities, you will never generate the revenue needed to fund your social media marketing efforts.³
Many companies still in the early stages of implementing social media don't have a clear understanding of how to take advantage of its many benefits. Many have set up their Facebook Timeline or LinkedIn Company Page, and done little else.
If this is true for your company, you are not using social media to effectively promote your brand, drive web traffic, and generate leads online. By following this simple advice, you can quickly remedy the problem and start getting more out of your social media efforts.
Are you incorporating social media into your marketing efforts? If so, how?
¹ Hubspot, "Nine Common and Costly B2B Social Media Marketing Mistakes"
² Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
³ Hubspot, "63% of B2B Companies Don't Generate Leads From Social Media"