Are You Using Social Media Marketing to Its Fullest Potential?

Here’s something you already know: social media is powerful.

But is it powerful for you? And if not, why isn’t your company seeing the results from social media it could be? It comes down to one deciding factor: how much leverage you’re able to squeeze out of your social media platforms. U.S. marketers are expected to spend about $26 billion in social media ads this year—for that kind of investment, it only makes sense to wonder how strong your ROI might be.

About 89% of companies with 100 employees or more use social media marketing to boost their bottom line—and that number is only trending upward. To compete in the digital world, companies both large and small need to get a handle on these modern advertising platforms. Here’s how:

How to Tell When You’re Not Using Social Media Marketing to Its Fullest Potential

“What gets measured gets managed.”

-Peter Drucker

We’ll start with the simplest question: how do you know?

How do you know when your social media ad spend isn’t generating the results you want to see? How do you know if your social media posts and advertisements should be performing better? To make things clearer, try using one of the following strategies:

  • Make full use of the tools available to you. Most advertising platforms are happy to entice you to utilize them more and more by giving you thorough analytics. Both Twitter Analytics and Facebook Analytics are robust enough to give you insights into what’s working and what’s not.
  • Set clear goals. You can’t determine if you’re getting a quality return on your investment if you refuse to define ROI in the first place. Are you looking for social media mentions? Clicks to your website? Conversions on your website? Set clear goals to get a sense of whether your social media marketing budget is worth its size.
  • Review your results regularly. Believe it or not, this is one of the chief challenges of social media marketers: some 60% say “measuring ROI” is one of their top obstacles. Make it a priority. Set monthly or quarterly review meetings to discuss the strength of your social media marketing efforts. If you’ve set good, clear goals from the outset, it shouldn’t be too difficult to discern whether your current strategies are effective. And by using the proper analytics, you’ll be able to tell which strategies are working best. Continue to tweak your strategy until you get the results you want.

Sounds simple enough. But you’d be surprised at how many companies find themselves frustrated because their SMM strategies aren’t working. If that’s the case with your company, take some time to see if you identify with any of the problems below:

Common Problems in Social Media Marketing

You already know the value possible with social media marketing—you just can’t seem to get past the obstacles to success.

Having problems with social media marketing isn’t uncommon. And in a way, that’s good news. Lots of social media marketers in your position have already made plenty of mistakes. If you’re willing to learn, you can avoid making those same mistakes from the outset:

Lack of engagement.

Many companies complain that their audience doesn’t engage them on social media. But do you engage your customers? With about 5 out of 6 messages to companies going unanswered online, it’s hard to fault customers for this. Remember that engagement works on both ends, and tailor your SMM strategy accordingly.

It can be hard to sift through the noise, so use tools like Buffer Reply or Mention to stay on the lookout for customers trying to reach you.

Low click-through rates.

Are you regularly posting content to your social media, only to find that even a large amount of views won’t translate into clicks to your articles and content?

Low click-through rates (CTR) can indicate a number of issues. Here are a few suggestions for getting them back up:

  • Incorporate visuals. For example, posts with videos will attract three times the links as text-only posts. Incorporating a visual element sparks attention and draws the eye.
  • Be mysterious. Are you giving away too much on social media? It’s okay to be a little mysterious to drive traffic through to your content with your links. It’s great to put up interesting content on social media, but every once in a while, it’s even more effective to drop teasers.
  • Invest in great content. Is your content on point? When you create a new blog post, does the headline grab the audience? Or are you rehashing old concepts? Get to the heart of what your readers want by investing in great content. Whether that means hiring additional writers or social media experts, or simply making content generation a key part of your new strategy is up to you. (A little tip: if you want to know what’s on peoples’ minds, read through the questions and answers at Quora to get a sense of what people are discussing online.)

Fearing the barrier to entry.

You might have noticed: not all social media is organic.

Paid social media marketing is one of the key variables driving the success and growth of companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The idea is simple: if you’ve got a marketing budget, you don’t need to start off with 10,000 followers to have success in social media.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of sponsored posts:

  • Defining your audience. Have a look at the targeting options available at Facebook. You can customize your audience by specific demographics or even re-target people who already know your company.
  • Generating content specific to your audience. Once you’ve put out enough posts to generate a large enough sample size, use the data to find out what most engages your audience. You can then tailor your future content to drive your audience to a landing page specifically created for them and their 100,000 followers not required.
  • Integrate CRM. As you collect valuable data and get to better know your audience, use Social CRM such as Salesforce to reinforce these relationships and drive a deeper bond with your target customers.

You don’t have to make sales all at once. View SMM as a process—a process of nurturing leads over time. When you approach it methodically, you don’t need a celebrity to post about your business to rake in visits and conversions.

Not enough investment.

Sometimes it’s not that your SMM isn’t working—it’s that you haven’t put in the resources to see serious results just yet. If the ROI is already strong in terms of engagement and conversions, consider expanding your SMM efforts with more time, energy, and labor.

If that sounds like too much to handle for now, try to automate the process of social media marketing as much as possible. Here are a few tools that can help you accomplish that:

  • Buffer makes it possible to schedule and automate the process of updating your social media accounts, creating an overall “dashboard” that’s easier to manage.
  • The Quik App helps you handle video edits in a hurry, which makes it possible to engage users with far more visual content than you were able to launch in the past.
  • If you want to share relevant links and stories with your social media base as part of your online strategy, use a service like Feedly to find those stories first. It will also filter out the stories in which you have no interest.
  • Sprout Social. The robust social media marketing tools at Sprout Social include everything from planning content and publishing your posts at select dates, to reporting on your progress and analyzing the success of each SMM campaign.

One download or two can change the way you and your team approach SMM. But the key to remember here is that if your social media following shows promise, it’s worth investing time and energy in.

Building a Better Social Media Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve identified the problems in your way, it’s time to build a better way of doing things. Here are a few key ways you can build a better social media marketing strategy using what you’ve learned above:

  • Take the time to brainstorm. Brainstorming might not feel like it’s work, but if you want your social media efforts to be creative, fun, and engaging, it’s fundamental. You don’t want to have the same social media strategy as every other brand out there. Don’t be afraid to do the things that would delight your team as well as your customers—provided you stick within the terms of service of each platform, that is.
  • Don’t forget your hashtags. This is especially relevant for any small company that has to build up its social media presence from the ground up: hashtags can increase the visibility of nearly any post. But don’t go into this blind. Research the best hashtags first—and make sure that they’re relevant to your post, or else you’ll likely find that you get ignored. And don’t hashtag. Stuff: according to SocialNomics.net, the best posts on Twitter tend to use no more than two hashtags.
  • Know your demographics. Not every social media platform is made the same—especially when it comes to the demographics of its audience. For example, women are more likely to use Instagram than men, according to Pew Internet. Plan accordingly.
  • Nurture leads over time. You might not collect 2% sales from your social media views at first. You might get a sale or two. But remember to collect data and leads by integrating CRM with your social media marketing. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Tailor the strategy to the medium. For example, most people know that YouTube is numero uno when it comes to posting videos online. But you’d be surprised at the reaction you can get from Facebook videos as well. Statistics show that most U.S. Internet users use Facebook to watch videos online. This is especially relevant if your SMM efforts contain multiple types of media, from blog posts to coupons to Internet videos.

Why Bother with Social Media Marketing?

If you have a great business, word of mouth marketing will take over and customers will find you. Right?

You’d be surprised. Although the occasional company might build itself on rock-solid organic growth, the trend of most start-ups is to use social media marketing to boost their visibility. According to Buffer, it’s number one on the top ten marketing tactics for new companies.

You can’t guarantee that every ad and every social media post will have the engagement you want. But if you put a plan in place and you have the right tools at your disposal, you’ll likely find that it’s possible to grow your social media presence with consistency, especially as word of mouth spreads.

Social media marketing represents one of the best opportunities any company has to invest in marketing and see exciting returns. But today’s social media platforms are like any other advertising strategy: they require know-how and diligence if you’re going to make them work consistently.

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