So, you are a business owner and chances are good that you have heard about social selling, social media marketing and why it is important for business. But it tends to be confusing with different viewpoints on the same topic. Your biggest concern is the cost involved, especially if you are a small business owner. And of course, will you see a return on your investment or increase in sales?
With this blog post, I will try my best to explain and give you some insight into the world of social media for business. No half truths. Just facts.
What is Social Selling?
Social Selling in simple terms is using social media platforms to build a better relationship with your potential and existing customers. With Social Selling the point is to cultivate Brand Awareness.
What is Brand Awareness?
All business owners understand that in order to generate sales, you have to know your target market as well as engage with them and establish a relationship.
Social media allows you to build an established presence affording you the vital opportunity to engage with your current and potential customers by commenting on customer posts and answering any questions they may have. This will in turn give you a thorough understanding of your customer’s expectations and needs, at the same time building a credible name in your field.
By maintaining this active presence on your social media channels, you develop Brand Awareness leading to more prospective customers that in turn can lead to sales. By using social media to market your brand, it can lead to a boost in sales without spending heaps of money. However, it is important to remember that you absolutely must be active on social media and communicate with your clients.
What is Social Media Marketing?
One of the best reasons for any small business to be marketing on social media is simply this: your customers are already spending time on social media! And chances are, your customers are most likely already checking or have seen/interacted with your competition’s social media profiles. If you are not already using social media, you could be losing out on chances to connect with your customers as well as generating sales.
Being active on social media also affords you the golden opportunity to drive traffic to your website! And your website is the place where your services and/or products are explained in detail. This in turn may then lead to possible sales increase as prospective customers now have the opportunity to browse at leisure through your company website and decide in their own time whether they want to purchase or not. All at the click of a button.
And with all the various social media platforms out there, which one to choose?
According to Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, it is estimated that by the end of 2018 Facebook will reach 2.3 billion active monthly users. This is a staggering number. And even though not all of these users are your target audience, chances are that a possibly big percentage of them are. And most of the businesses out there in the world has a Facebook profile with a presence on other social media networks as well.
And Facebook is but one platform. You also have Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc.
In other words, Social Media allows you the opportunity of building an online persona and establishing a unique tone to your brand. You can share engaging and informative content along with your product and/or service, creating a trustworthy and reliable brand with which your customer wants to engage. And as with all things social, consistency is key. By that I mean, you will have to post often to keep in touch with your target market and keep your business in the forefront of their minds.
Social Media also assists you to see what people out there are saying about your brand as well as the competitor!
And when you have a limited marketing budget, it’s important that you spend every cent wisely to get the most out of your money invested. Marketing using social media is one of the most versatile and cost-effective marketing strategies out there that allows small business to reach their target market and boost sales over time.
Remember, chances are your competitor is already on social media! And in order to stay competitive in the digital market, it is vitally important to start building your social media presence sooner rather than later.
Will social media really make a difference in sales?
Before social media took the world by storm, the best referral was the one by word-of-mouth. And then of course we also grabbed the yellow pages!
But times have changed. Social media has made this 100% easier. People tend to share posts from companies or individuals recommending a service or product – Digital word-of-mouth Marketing. A powerful tool that is not only free, but goes a very long way in helping you build trust with new leads!
And consumers are known to buy from brands that have been recommended. And don’t be fooled in thinking that they will only trust recommendations from a friend or family member. Consumers nowadays, are just as likely to trust an online review by someone they have never met as they are in trusting a personal recommendation. And word-of-mouth recommendations can certainly help sales soar!
This all sounds great and fantastic and you want to jump right into it! But, there are also some hard truths and realistic expectations to face.
The REALITY of social media marketing.
Above I have explained the basics on Social Media Marketing and outlined all the wonders of using social media to create your brand, market your product/service and possibly increase your sales far in excess of what you expected. However, we live in a world where social media has flourished for years now. So the need to be realistic and plan your strategy is vital.
- Statement: I will see sales increase over night.
No. Chances are very good that you won’t. It takes time, effort, dedication and discipline to start seeing an increase in revenue using Social Media Marketing.
You will have to carefully decide which social media platform will best suit your needs and then you will have to sit down and carefully plan the type of posts you want to utilize to market your business. On top of that you have to post consistently and engage with your audience by answering and addressing queries, questions, complaints or compliments. This can take months and sometimes even years. Chances are that you won’t see a return on your investment in the first month, purely because you are still learning about your target audience’s likes and dislikes and many make mistakes while first starting out.
- Statement: My business is too small to benefit from Social Media Marketing
This is a foolish suggestion. Yes, some industries may be more successful than others on social media, but almost any company has the potential to see an increase in sales using Social Media Marketing.
And, yes, some industries will have a much easier time than others. Industries that utilize strong visuals and interesting topics related to their field of business will almost always outperform a business within a typically ‘general’ industry.
You cannot compare the social media profiles of a company specializing in the latest brand fashion with those marketing homemade garments. But that is not saying both cannot be just as successful as the other in their chosen fields. You may not make the millions as the company selling the latest brand fashions, but it is not about matching them is it? It is about growing your own company, reaching your own clients, generating a new following and increasing your own brand awareness.
Try and remember that explosive growth requires quite a bit of luck. No one profile just boomed out of nowhere and went viral. All it took was that one piece of content posted that reached the right person at the right time and BAM! Your profile and company name goes viral. This is not to discourage you at all from pursuing social media marketing, but rather to set it out as plainly as possible to have realistic expectations in place.
So how do you get started?
By now you are most likely feeling daunted and overwhelmed with the idea of putting your company on social media. Your concerns may vary from expectations your management may have, what the cost will be as well as who will be running this for you.
Now is the time to sit back and relax. We are going to be smart about this and take it step by step.
What do you want to achieve through social media marketing? Using what you have read up until now, sit back and think about this and write it down.
WHAT IS YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GOAL?
This is an absolute must to be clear and well defined. Examples are that you want to see x% more visits to your website or you want to see x% more engagement with your existing or potential customers etc. Whatever it is, be sure that are clear on what your goal is before starting out.
You have read that I have mentioned this quite a couple of times throughout. You have to be realistic. Think about possible limitations or challenges that may pop up on your social media marketing walk. Is it a low social media budget? Possibly a lack of commitment that will prevent you from meeting your set out goal/s? Whatever it is, note it. That way, you can prepare for it well in advance.
NOTE YOUR TIME FRAME EXPECTATIONS
To expect a million likes on your Facebook page for example within a six months period is not reachable for most businesses. What you need to remember here is that social media is a long term strategy where you build authority and trust and should not be an attempt to generate massive sales from the get go. It is best to think around the goals you have already set out and then put a time frame to those goals. And be honest and realistic when you do so.
Rounding it off
Social Media Marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. Should you keep this in mind while planning your social media strategy, you will not be disappointed.
And remember, should you need assistance, ElZone is here to help.