7 Ways to Make Your Social Media Marketing Work Harder

  |  September 20, 2010   |  Comments

Since integrating social media into your marketing mix helps expand your reach, increase sales, and build your fan base, it's important to maximize your efficiency.

Social media has reached a tipping point; it's now a part of every marketer's arsenal. However, while roughly eight out of 10 marketers use social media, only three of them believe that it's effective, according to Junta42/Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs' just released B2B research. Social media accounts for roughly one out of every five minutes spent online, as tracked by Nielsen. Put together with ExactTarget's consumer-focused findings, which show that Twitter followers are more likely to purchase and recommend brands once they follow them than are consumers on Facebook, and you've made the case to add social media to your marketing mix. (For more customer details, see ExactTarget's research.) As a result, marketers are present where their prospects, customers, and fans are despite their inability to prove its effectiveness in meeting business objectives.

7 Ways to Make Your Social Media Marketing More Effective

Since integrating social media into your marketing mix helps expand your reach, increase sales, and build your fan base, it's important to maximize your social media marketing's efficiency. Here are seven tactics to help achieve this:

  1. Include a call to action. Once you have your prospect's attention, what do you want them to do next? While every marketer will say buy, consider where you are in building your relationship and where the potential customer is in terms of her purchase process. Traditionally, direct marketers focus on purchase-related calls to action; with social media, calls to action can comprise a broader array of options such as likes, social sharing, comments, reviews, and RSS feeds. To improve tracking, especially for price deals, include a promotional code that's associated with the original media source. Even though today's consumers are more likely to share offers with broader audiences, you can still determine which source initiated the sale.
  2. Provide at least one response channel for participants. This channel should encourage participants to take an action that leads toward greater engagement with your firm. Think broadly in terms of likes, follows, check-ins, and RSS feeds. Also provide an alternative where they can reach a form of customer service such as old-fashioned phone calls, e-mail, and chat. (Here are more options for customer service via social media.) It's critical to make sure that you're staffed to respond to these inquiries, since they come from interested prospects.
  3. Include post-interaction marketing. Because the purchase process may take time, it's important to stay top of mind with prospects. This is especially true in the current environment where the purchase process takes longer and is more social. You need to have on-going communications and interactions to convert prospects into customers. Ideally, this should continue beyond the actual purchase.
  4. Incorporate your social media into your overall marketing plan. Social media doesn't exist in a vacuum. It must leverage and extend other forms of marketing, PR, and communications efforts, both online and offline.
  5. Make sufficient investment in your social media marketing. Contrary to popular belief, social media marketing isn't free! While social media platforms may be free or inexpensive, social media marketing done right takes headcount and resources. (To better understand social media marketing's hidden costs, here's a list.)
  6. Make your story memorable. Considering doing this when you integrate your story into your social media. This helps participants and their friends to embellish it and share it.
  7. Be device indifferent. With broader use of mobile devices, your prospects can reach your social media execution on the go. Ensure that they can take action regardless of how they found you and the amount of time they have to interact. Remember that you don't need a mobile marketing strategy for users to find you on a mobile device!

Metrics to Determine Social Media's Effectiveness

As with any marketing program, it's critical to monitor a variety of factors to ensure that you're on track. To improve your social media marketing's effectiveness, here are five elements to track.

  1. Audience. Are you reaching your target audience in terms of prospects, customers, influencers, and the general public? In terms of earned media, how has your reach been extended through the use of social media marketing?
  2. Interactions. Track these in terms of views, shares across social networks, likes, and comments. Have they increased with the use of the calls to action and promotional codes?
  3. Brand perception. How has sentiment towards your brand changed as a result of your social media marketing? How does this relate to intent to purchase? If it isn't positive, what can you do to improve it?
  4. Expenses. Calculate expenses in terms of marketing executions, creative, technology, and head count. Remember, social media costs more than you think, so include the hidden cost factors as well.
  5. Sales. Track sales related to specific calls to action and promotional codes as well as social media's contribution to brand favorability, prospect acquisition, and post-sale retention.

While it's important to be where your target audience is, social media platforms can be a double-edged sword. You and your fans can promote your offering while new options are introduced that may sway consumers towards other options. Therefore, you must incorporate social media marketing into your overall marketing plan, include ways to make it more effective, and track results.

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Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.

Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.

Her blog, HeidiCohen.com, was nominated as a finalist for Top Social Media Blog of 2012 by Social Media Examiner.

Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.

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