Reasons Social Media Marketing Is Still Underrated

Reasons Social Media Marketing
Is Still Underrated

  

The numbers on social media marketing are impressive.

More than half of small businesses in the United States are planning to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2017, and the number of businesses using social media marketing has increased, year over year, for more than a decade.Still, social media marketing remains underrated. Business owners and marketers frequently treat it as a second thought—something for an intern to handle, rather than a strategically deep mode of building your reputation and attracting new traffic. Some have even abandoned the idea altogether, refusing to spend any time or money on a strategy that nets a positive ROI for up to 92 percent of businesses that use it. So what’s the deal? Why isn’t everyone on board with the strategy?

The "fad" angle.

Believe it or not, some people still believe that social media—or its use as a marketing strategy—is still a fad just waiting to fizzle out. This is an argument I could have understood back in 2007 when social media platforms were only in use by a small percentage of the population. But now that Facebook has reached more than 1.2 billion users and is still growing, with a corporate foundation that rivals those of Apple or Google, it’s a hard argument to defend. Users have gotten used to the idea of socially interacting online, and platforms keep evolving in new ways to maintain their interest.

You get what you pay for.

Psychologically, people tend to place more value on things that cost more money. For example, in a blind taste test of identical wines whose only difference is price, people claim that the more expensive (yet compositionally identical) wine tastes better. Take this principle to social media marketing; it’s free to claim and build a business profile and to post regularly (as long as you aren’t leveraging paid advertising). Because of that, people don’t value it as much as they do paid advertising. They’re also less likely to pay a professional to work on a social media campaign, knowing that—technically—anyone could do it for free (even if they never actually do it).

Unmeasurable effects.

The return on investment (ROI) of social media is hard to measure, and I’ll be the first to admit it. One of your biggest goals is attracting a large following of people who are enthusiastic about your brand, and improving both your brand’s reputation and brand awareness. These aren’t as objectively measurable as on-site conversions, but they can and do lead to greater consumer interest, which manifests as sales eventually. Trying to pin down an exact value for all these benefits is next to impossible, even for the pros, so the value of a social media campaign is almost always underreported.

Anecdotes.

People also use anecdotal evidence as a basis for their opinions about the strategy. For example, they may know of another business who used social media and didn’t see any results, so they stay away from it in the present. However, these anecdotal examples often don’t examine the types of tactics these businesses used, and they certainly don’t represent the average across multiple businesses.

Apples and oranges.

Ironically, these same business owners often cite the fact that anecdotal evidence can’t prove a strategy’s effectiveness for everybody. They point to major influencers or big businesses in the social media world and explain that social media works for them because it fits naturally with their industry, or because they have the resources to invest in a heavy campaign. It’s true that some industries may be naturally inclined to perform better on social media than others; tech companies and consumer-facing businesses are two good examples. However, social media marketing can be used by practically any company—it may just require an adjustment to your approach.

Poor targeting.

Some businesses look at their own results and use those results as a gauge of the long-term potential of their campaign. But they may not realise that their strategic targeting is interfering with their results. For example, if you buy 1,000 followers using some super cheap follower-adding service, but only 4 or 5 of them ever interact with your posts or visit your site, it could be that the remaining 995 don’t belong to demographics relevant for your business, or that you haven’t been using the right engagement strategies to cultivate interest. Don’t underestimate the potential of a well-researched, strategically focused campaign.

 Lack of investment.

Effective social media marketing can’t be done on a whim. It needs to be planned, researched, and strategically executed. That means you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time or a significant amount of money to see results; and since many business owners aren’t willing to make that investment, they never see a fraction of their potential results. By that point, they’ve seen what a small investment does, and they’re unwilling to make the jump to a larger investment.

Social media marketing isn’t an “underground” strategy; it’s talked about heavily (and I should know), and there’s no shortage of content covering its feasibility and best tactics. But the perceptions of marketers and business owners are still lagging behind the evidence, and they’re only hurting themselves in the process. The more you learn about the effective implementation of social media marketing, the more plainly beneficial it seems—but you have to treat it as a legitimate marketing strategy if you want to research it appropriately.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Ways to monetize your social media followings

Ways to monetize your
social media followings

Turn your social media presence into a way to generate revenue — even if you don't have a massive following on Facebook or Twitter.

   Social media has not only revolutionised the way that people communicate

and stay in touch; it has completely transformed business and marketing practices as a whole. Over the past five years, social media websites have become some of the largest and most meaningful pieces of the digital marketing puzzle. While many still maintain that social platforms are for communicating and not slinging products, others would vehemently disagree; just look at Facebook, Instagram and other networks’ efforts to integrate e-commerce options.

Generating revenue is, by many standards, the sole reason why many attempts to accrue millions of followers; massive awareness often leads to either sponsorships or sales. Either way, cash is the ultimate goal. But is it possible to monetize moderate social followings that don’t reach into the hundreds of thousands and beyond? You bet it is. If you’re ready to start having your social followings work for you, here are five ways to turn your social presence into a bona fide stream of revenue.

Create an online course that educates your followers

E-learning is a gargantuan industry that’s poised to grow exponentially over the next several years, reaching $325 billion globally by 2025. Those who have been watching this trend know that now is the time to double down on their own expertise and create a course to offer their audiences. Kajabi, an e-learning platform that boasts a wide array of powerful features for marketing, selling, upselling and hosting digital learning courses to students, recently published a story on its blog about one of its “heroes” (a person who turned their passion into a profit through Kajabi’s offerings) that clearly shows anyone can turn their social audience into customers and advocates.

Makeup and design artist Tiffany Bymaster was introduced to Kajabi by her mentor, who had already achieved massive success through the platform. Bymaster had no email list or social following at the time, but knew her skill set was stellar. She began making videos on how to grow a person’s outreach process — mostly just to help herself become comfortable in front of the camera. Once she set up her Kajabi website, these videos actually became part of her course training materials. From there, momentum started to build as her social presence grew and her online training program took flight. Today, Bymaster has now launched three successful programs which have earned her $80,000 in the past six months. Bymaster is a perfect example of leveraging social to create revenue, as her method incorporates my next two points.

Unveil new products and services to your followers

In order to generate sales from your audience, you need to have something to sell. By posting about new products or services on social media, you are giving your offering a much larger platform to reach prospective buyers. If you want to significantly extend that reach, start running Facebook ads for your products using Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences. This will allow you to target the most relevant individuals to help boost your sales. If you want to add a layer of “exclusivity” to your product releases, you could give your social audiences early access to products and deals so as to create a sense of urgency and privilege.

Integrate video into your marketing stack

Video content is en Fuego. Everywhere you turn there is video content, articles about video content, and even videos about video content; it is becoming inescapable. Nearly every social platform is currently generating billions of video views per day; even Snapchat has broken the 10 billion daily view marker. The point is that video content is becoming a marketing necessity — especially when you consider that explainer videos increase a prospect’s likelihood to purchase by 1.81 times.

Videos help increase your chances of monetizing your audience, as the content is engaging, educational and often entertaining — the marketing trifecta. Leverage this by creating video content about your products and using live streaming services like Facebook Live to connect with your audience and explain exactly how your product will help them reach their goals and make life simpler.

Become an affiliate to market products to your audience

Affiliate programs are another sales model that is increasing in popularity. Becoming an affiliate advertiser for brands like Amazon is a relatively simple endeavour which allows entrepreneurial-minded folks to acquire advertising materials for various brands to market to their audiences. These adverts can be circulated across an individual’s blog, website, and yes, social media accounts. Affiliates are paid a commission based on the revenue their particular set of ads generates.

Just be sure when you are promoting these links to your social followers that you are honest with them about your affiliate status and the items you are highlighting; pandering will get you nowhere, except maybe unfollowed. Create long-form reviews on products, and let your followers know your honest opinion; as a bonus, you can even create video content on these items to boost your engagement.

Create a Facebook shop and sell right through social

Social media platforms are integrating all sorts of shopping options for brands and consumers to take advantage of. One of the most comprehensive and in-depth social selling toolkits comes from Facebook. By using Facebook’s shop section, you can list physical products directly on the platform for followers to browse and buy. It just doesn’t get any easier to reach so many people in such an efficient and effective manner.

Selling has never been so easy

The digital age affords brands and entrepreneurs a vast array of options for generating income in a much less back-breaking way than past generations. These are only a few of the many ways that you can monetize your social following and build an online business.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Essentials for a Winning Social Media Marketing Strategy

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

The Cold, Hard Truth About Social Media Marketing

The Cold, Hard Truth About Social Media Marketing

  

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Does Your Company Really Need to Focus on SEO?

Does Your Company Really Need to Focus on SEO?

  

Q: Is search engine optimioptimisation important to your digital marketing strategy?
A: Yes and no
.

Firstly, let’s break down SEO as I think businesses and marketers have a tendency to overcomplicate it, which results in an overwhelming feeling of "this isn’t for us" or "we don’t have the expertise/time for this." Actually, SEO is quite simple when you dispel the SEO myths and break it down to its core fundamentals: on-site (changes you make to your actual website) and offsite (things you do outside of your own website). On-site SEO is simply the process of making your website search-engine friendly. This includes tactics like optimising your title tags, publishing great content and being strategic about your website’s structure.

Offsite SEO is the process of getting validation from other websites that your website is useful to searchers. The best way to do this is by earning backlinks — in other words, having other websites link to your website (Note: it’s very important that you don’t try to earn what Google calls "unnatural" links — this could result in a penalty if done at scale!)

If that doesn’t make sense, perhaps my blind date analogy will work. Let’s say you’re at work and you see a cute guy or girl that you like. They showered, combed their hair, put on good clothes and perfume, and you like the look of them. What they’ve done is nail their on-site SEO. In other words, how they look on face value to the searcher — or in my analogy, the person looking for love. Naturally, you ask another colleague what the deal is about this mystical human. You learn that they completed their MBA at Harvard, are on the lacrosse team, and they volunteer every summer for a charity you support. What they’ve done is nail their off-page SEO – meaning, other people are telling you they’re great meaning your opinion of them is validated.

In my opinion, the most important component of SEO is on-site SEO. These are things that you can control, and on-site SEO factors quite literally tell Google what your website is about so that they know where to rank it in its search results. As for off-site SEO, it should always be secondary to nailing your on-site SEO. You have control of what’s on your website, so it’s much easier to focus on getting this right first, evaluating the results, and then look into whether off-site SEO is something you should think about doing. When it comes to improving your on-site SEO, the best place to start is by optimising your content for both users and search engines.

Content is important for a few reasons. First, if you don’t have great content, then you have nothing to share on social media, via email marketing, on your website, in ads or on affiliate sites to grow your marketing funnel. These are all core components of digital marketing and are the primary reasons you should be investing in creating content. It benefits your business on so many levels; it’s not just for SEO. When publishing content, the secret to maximising any on-site SEO benefit is being strategic with the keywords you’re using and the way you’re optimising for them on the page itself. Learn how to select the best keywords to drive more traffic, and then make sure you optimise your web page for those keywords to make sure you’re capitalising on all your hard work from an organic search perspective.

But most importantly, creating great content is actually what causes other websites to link to you. Consequently, this improves your off-site SEO metrics because people are more likely to link to your content as a useful resource or reference it as point of discussion. So focusing on great content kills two birds with one stone: it improves your on-site SEO and your off-site SEO. However, there’s a problem: Most people don’t really know what good content is. You may be thinking, “Oh, those people… I’m not one of them.” I’m sorry to break it to you, but you probably are. Head over to your company’s blog or Facebook page now. Do you see any posts that talk about the product or service that you sell? If you do, then you’re probably not doing content right to attract more traffic at the top of the funnel.

Here's one example. I wear glasses. If you’re an online glasses retailer, you most likely create content around new trends or top styles. For example, you might have a blog post titled: “10 Best Glasses Frames for Oval Faces.”Now, this may work for attracting people like me to your website, because I’m already aware of my problem (that I’m short-sighted), and I’m considering my options for solving that problem (I’m thinking about purchasing the solution). However, the largest opportunity for most businesses to scale their traffic and database is to use content to also attract people that don’t know they need your product yet. So, using the same glasses example: what would people that need glasses, but are not aware of this need, search for online?

They may search for things like:

  • Why do I keep getting headaches at work?
  • How to stop squinting at work?
  • Why are my eyes blurry?
  • What are those black dots I see on my eye?

An online glasses retailer that creates great content would already know this after doing buyer persona research and identifying their persona’s challenges. If you’ve not done so already, here’s a great free tool to create buyer personas for your business. They may create a blog post that has a few reasons why you may get headaches at work. Some advice they could give to appeal to this persona at the start of their buyer’s journey could be:

  • Leave your desk every 30 minutes and go for a walk
  • Turn your computer brightness down
  • Look at something in the distance every 10 minutes
  • Get an eye test to check on the health of your eyes

This gives the target buyer the option to solve the problem for themselves, without directly trying to sell to them too early. And in the event that walking, turning the brightness down, and looking in the distance doesn’t work, they may very well get an eye test and then buy some glasses from you after remembering how helpful your content was.

Now this is an exaggerated and accelerated example of someone moving through the three stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness (of problem), consideration (of options) and decision (on which product/service to use). However, the point is, when you create content that helps people and is great quality, they’re much more likely to share it on social media, link to it from their personal blog and tell their colleagues about it. If you can pair that with thorough keyword research and a solid on-site SEO strategy, then you have a much better chance of ranking well in Google’ search results.

So, while SEO is an important part of digital marketing for attracting traffic at the top of the funnel, it’s by no means the most important — SEO works best when you implement it as part of a wider content-led marketing strategy. Focus on creating great content and you’ll see benefits not only on the SEO front, but across all of your digital marketing activities.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

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