Social Media Marketing is the ultimate equalizer for businesses. Social Media levels the playing field between small and large companies. It used to be that the company with the most advertising dollars sold the most products. Why? Because they were able to spend a lot of money on traditional advertising to reach their target audience. Small companies were at a huge disadvantage in terms of being able to reach that same audience. Now, Social Media Marketing has changed all of that.
Social Media provides all companies with a new marketing channel for reaching their customers. The cost of executing Social Media Marketing tactics is almost $0 for companies. An almost zero cost of entry for companies and an almost unlimited geographic reach, small companies around the world can now compete with their large competitors for market share within their industry.
Social Media is a great tool for business owners who want to reach and engage more customers. That said, Social Media is just that, a tool. Just like any other tool, simply using the tool does not mean you’re going to be successful. It’s how you use the tool that separates those who succeed in the trade and those who fail. Social Media Marketing is no different.
Think about hammering a nail. The hammer and nail are the tools for which you’re using to build something. Someone takes time to set goals for what he wants to build, plan out how to use his hammer and nails to achieve his goal, and then goes about using his hammer and nails in the best, most effective way possible, will ultimately build a better “something” than someone has the same goal, but simply picks up the hammer and nail and starts pounding away.
Social Media Marketing can be an amazing tool for all businesses, but especially for small companies looking to compete with larger organizations for market share within an industry. That said, as we’ve discussed above, just because you use Social Media doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. The companies, both large and small, who are successful in their Social Media Marketing efforts all follow a very similar philosophy when it comes to using Social Media to reach and engage their customers. This approach can be broken down into 4 main steps:
The companies that follow these four steps will have a much higher chance at success than those who simply use Social Media as just another shout box.
The biggest mistake that I see business owners making when it comes to using Social Media Marketing to reach and engage their customers is using the tools as just another channel for shouting their message as loudly and most obtrusively as possible. It used to be that you could simply plaster your commercials or ads in front of customers and products would move off of the shelves. The age is long gone. Customers want to feel like you can meet their needs on a personal level. They want to know that you care about them. They want to talk with you. Social Media Marketing is the ultimate tool to give customers and prospects what they want. Unfortunately, most businesses are still stuck in the old paradigm.
When was the last time you were on Facebook or Twitter and you saw the same company come up in your news feed the “biggest sale of the year” message, send out a tweet about their new products, or send you yet another email coupon? I’m guessing you can probably remember because it most likely happened to most of you very recently. The biggest mistake companies make when it comes to using Social Media Marketing is that they want to use old advertising strategies in these new marketing channels. What they are learning the hard way is that it just doesn’t work.
In order to be successful using Social Media Marketing for your business you must understand that a paradigm shift in how customers want to interact with companies has occurred. It used to be that we put our favorite classic American companies on a pedestal. Whatever they said in their TV ad, Radio Spots, and Magazine Spreads we believed. It’s all that we needed to know about the company that makes the products that we use. Today, that’s not enough. We want to have input on the products that our favorite companies make, we want to learn more about the materials that were used to make the products that we purchase, and we want to know that you know we exist. Knowing that this new paradigm is fully in play will help companies understand how to use Social Media Marketing as a tool to grow your business.
Five to ten years ago this new paradigm couldn’t have existed. It couldn’t have existed because there wouldn’t have been the technology to support it. With the advent of the internet and tools like Social Media, businesses are now more connected to their customers than ever before. This increased closeness between company and consumer has changed what consumers demand from the companies that they purchase products and services from. Consumers EXPECT that your company has a presence on Social Media. Not only do they expect that, but they expect that they can actually use those tools to communicate with you or a representative of your company. They want to use those tools to consumer information about your company, industry, products and services. If you want to be successful with Social Media Marketing, it’s your job to use the tools to provide those things to your customers and prospects. Not only must you provide them with the information, but you must do it in a way that’s not perceived to be too sales-focused.
In my experience, companies who have been most successful using social media to increase sales are the ones who stick to a few guiding principles:
Social Media Marketing can be an extremely effective way to reach your target audience, educate them about your company, industry, products and services, and sell more stuff. The trick is knowing that Social Media is merely a tool and that consumers expect more from you than they’ve ever done in the past. Knowing this will allow you to use Social Media for engaging your customers, not shouting at them. Knowing this will help you take a step back before jumping into Social Media so that you have time to set goals and plan for how you will achieve those goals. Knowing this will allow you to finally compete with some of those large companies that can’t evolve their business as quickly as you can to adapt to this new paradigm. Knowing this will allow you to use Social Media Marketing to grow your business.