It’s important to understand social media marketing isn’t always about your bottom line.
For a while, it seemed like every business owner was convinced creating a Facebook page was the key to online marketing success. While social media has helped shape the consumer/business conversation, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Successful social media management requires a keen eye for consumer trends and an ability to connect with your audience personably while still capitalizing on those audience relationships.
It’s a fine line to walk, and many marketers have trouble balancing their personal and professional agendas online.
Assessing Social Media Marketing Value
Often, marketers and managers expect a substantial ROI and an inflated bottom line after devoting a little time to social media management. The harsh reality is, even establishing a strong social media presence can’t guarantee sales or even website interaction.
Marketers can often make the mistake of viewing likes, shares, and comments to be just as valuable as links and purchases. This mindset can lead to an unnecessarily bloated social media marketing budget. In truth, it’s up to you to determine which social media marketing services are worth committing to (both time and money) and what kind of return for your investment (sales or social) you’re trying to achieve. Are your goals practical? Measurable?
Facebook has even taken a step toward trying to “close the loop for retailers.” Store Visits, Facebook’s new metric for their Ads Reporting tool, allows marketers to connect local awareness ads to in-store foot traffic.
Top Social Media Marketing Platforms
It may not be long before innovative and successful social media marketing services change the landscape, but for now it’s important to know which platforms are shaping the social conversation.
- Facebook (1.5 billion+ users): After Facebook set the standard for social media interaction in 2004, no service has been able to compete as a personal and professional communication hub. As of December 2015, Facebook boasts over 1.5 billion users and is currently the leading platform for both B2C and B2B social media marketing.
- YouTube (1 billion+ users): There was a time when YouTube was little more than a video sharing service built around cute cat clips. Today, YouTube has become a celebrity-making, money-generating platform that attracts content creators and marketers who command the attention of millions.
- Instagram (400 million+): Smart marketers are taking advantage of the diverse media through which consumers connect, and Instagram quickly became the hub for photo-centric sharing. Successful Instagram marketing relies heavily on eye-catching, worthwhile photos.
- Twitter (320 million+): Twitter advertising is still alive and well, and tactful Twitter marketing can still reach millions in the blink of an eye. Twitter widely popularized the functionality of the hashtag, and a strong hashtag campaign can be great for business.
- Google+ (300 million+): Google’s not-so-subtle attempt to enter the social media landscape, Google+ is arguably still trying to find its footing. That said, the service is closely associated with the world’s largest search engine, which has its advantages (sharing content and article links to Google+ gets Google to quickly index that content in search).
- LinkedIn (100 million+): Once (and most likely always) called the Facebook for your work acquaintances, LinkedIn is still home to more than 100 million business-minded members looking for social media interaction in a more professional setting.
Different Social Media Platforms for Different Audiences
It’s important to know where to place your marketing content. Of the above-mentioned social media services, not all are suited for every business.
Business to Business (B2B): Some of the most valuable online relationships can be formed around mutually beneficial evergreen content shared through social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are still the most popular services for B2B marketing.
Business to Consumer (B2C): While creating a silly Instagram post or YouTube video most likely won’t secure that big corporate client, this kind of social media interaction shows consumers that you’re human. It’s the reason businesses couldn’t resist creating a Harlem Shake video and marketing departments everywhere get a kick out of Tweeting photos of the office dog.
Never Trick or Deceive Your Audience
The bottom line is, be honest and provide value with your social media content, and your audience will take notice. As soon as a new social media platform starts making waves, it seems like a slew of social media marketing vultures start circling. Facebook and Twitter spamming still run rampant online, and nothing hurts an organization’s social media presence quite like trying to intentionally trick, coerce, or pester an online audience for commercial purposes.