Gaining traction with social media marketing can be challenging. You have to view it as a long game, investing in data, storytelling, and social selling to boost your connections and turn followers into customers. Follow these tips to achieve the social media ROI you’re looking for.
Despite its fast-paced atmosphere punctuated by trends that can change by the minute, social media marketing won’t give you an instant return on investment. Quick-turnaround results are a thing of the past, so it’s important to acknowledge right away that social media marketing requires a long-term commitment and strategy. Otherwise, you might become mired in the constant concern that you’re botching your social media campaigns.
It’s not hard to understand why gaining social media traction is a challenge. Although millions of people (aka potential leads for your business) are actively involved on today’s hottest sites, these social channels are also crowded with competing content. About 4.75 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) Facebook posts circulate every day. On Twitter, you can expect no fewer than 500 million tweets vying for attention in what feels like a 24-hour news cycle. These numbers almost make Instagram’s 95 million daily posts sound paltry.
The point is that it’s tough to gain visibility on social media, at least until you’ve built up a brand and following — not to mention some surefire engagement strategies. Success on social channels requires companies to invest in data, storytelling, and social selling to boost their connections and turn followers into customers. To set yourself up for long-game success, try these recommendations for getting your social media machine humming and supercharging your social media ROI:
- Put the push on social listening.
When running social media campaigns, you’re no doubt gathering a lot of data and metrics related to them. Just don’t get so bogged down by vanity social media engagement metrics (such as likes, shares, and comments) that you forget to dig into the real, useful data at your disposal through social listening. Social listening is a comprehensive technique of finding out what’s being said about your brand to put context behind your data.
Say that you suddenly notice a few of your posts have lit up like Christmas trees, get excited by the metrics, and feel the urge to share them to prove that your marketing is working. Before you do, put social listening to the test. You might find that the increased chatter around your brand comes from a negative experience and has uncovered your customers’ unmet needs. In other words, your metrics were accurate (they picked up increased volume) but lacking (they omitted the negative consumer sentiment).
Social listening gives you the power to fill in all the blanks and have a deeper trust in your data. According to its latest “Marketing Intelligence Report,” Salesforce found that only about one-quarter of marketers believe their data is valid and accurate. Paying attention and responding to your brand mentions, hashtags, and even competitor mentions rounds out your data with a dose of customer sentiment.
- Tap into your inner storyteller.
Good and gripping stories never go out of style. The best stories are memorable, emotional, and frequently inspirational. This is why brands that engage in storytelling on social do so well. Social media is about individuals and connections, not about products and services. Sure, you might sell or promote your offerings on your social media accounts. At the heart, though, you’re trying to engage with human beings — and humans love a good tale that scratches their curiosity itch.
Your stories don’t have to be extraordinary to charm followers; they just need to be genuine. Authenticity is key to building trust. Not sure what stories to share? Many companies have compelling startup narratives that deserve to be told. Just because your organization didn’t begin in a basement, garage, or dorm doesn’t make your origin story boring. Speaking about the seeds that grew your brand can arouse audience interest and encourage fandom.
Why is that so crucial? In a recent survey, over three-quarters of people said they would buy from a brand they felt connected with rather than one of its competitors. What could be a better way to drive connections on social platforms than to put on your storyteller hat? While you’re sharing these stories, make sure to include relevant images and video clips to generate more notice. About 73% of consumers said they would rather learn about an offering via video than another method. If that’s true, users will surely like learning about your brand’s beginnings, mission, and other talking points through video, too.
- Plug social selling into your social media marketing mix.
Social selling has begun to take off, and not just in networking-heavy industries such as insurance and finance. Social selling is a method to build social media engagement by leveraging the power of some of the customer-facing individuals working at your company. For instance, imagine if each of your sales representatives had a thriving social page. Working in tandem with your branded business page, those additional corporate-driven pages could increase your organization’s social exposure, impact, and reach.
Launching a full-fledged social selling program can seem overwhelming — at first, anyway, says Nola Morris, the vice president of strategy at social media management software company Denim Social. Nevertheless, she firmly believes that with the right plans and technologies in place, social selling is a surefire bet. “Adding social to the sales mix is a culture shift, and supporting hundreds or thousands of intermediaries in weaving social into their everyday processes isn’t a small feat,” she writes. Yet she’s quick to add that “social selling is more than marketing: It’s using social media as a digital relationship-building and sales tool.”
The key to making social selling work is to give it the credence and resources it deserves. Don’t leave content creation and deployment up to your employees. Take charge of the process, so it becomes a natural part of your social media playbook and is handled with brand messaging and regulatory compliance in mind.
As fast as the social media environment moves, it likely won’t provide you with immediate leads or sales. Set realistic expectations on how soon you’ll see ROI from your social media marketing initiatives. With a better understanding and a “slow and steady wins the race” mentality, you can succeed in today’s hottest online social settings.
Written by Rhett Power.
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