Why You Need a Well-Crafted Social Media Strategy Right Now
Anyone would be hard-pressed today to over-estimate the power of social media. The use of social media by consumers and business professionals alike is tightly woven throughout the fabric of our society and economy. If you own or operate a business or organization that needs to gain visibility in the marketplace, utilizing social media is no longer an option, it’s a must. Businesses really need to have a presence on social media platforms to gain any kind of traction today.
Business social media pages serve as important platforms for sharing information. In some cases, users will research on social media, read reviews about your business and request a call or download an eBook, all from within a social media platform. The point of all of this is all businesses should create and maintain their social media presence on all of the popular platforms.
As social media as grown over the past few years, so has its complexity. There are now countless social media communities catering to every conceivable interest, profession, industry, hobby, and demographic. The choices are so numerous, they can be overwhelming. Fortunately, one of the greatest benefits of social media is that it gives you access to billions of potential impressions. You’ll want to create your social media strategy to include the basic organic methods for building an audience and also consider highly-targeted paid outreach to expand the visibility of your business.
This chart shows social media trends among Americans
Even if you’re not actively involved in social media currently, many other businesses, large and small, are — including your competitors and most likely a significant proportion of your customers. If you don’t understand that social media is where people are holding conversations, then that means you’re not part of the discussion, and you can’t influence what customers and prospects say and think about your business. And if you don’t know what’s being said, how can you effectively manage your brand reputation online? And how can you ensure that your key messages are being heard by the people with whom you most want to engage? Creating a targeted social media strategy will help you focus on relevant platforms to connect with existing and new customers and avoid simply adding to the online noise.
Here are several important reasons why you should develop a social media strategy:
Your target audience is active on social media
A mobile workforce and customer base, wireless technology, and the quest for convenience have all combined to create an environment in which people access, use, and share information online and on their own terms. Sales teams no longer dictate the rules of engagement with customers – the customers do. That’s why it’s likely that a significant portion of them will want to get information from you and about you via a social network.
Deciding how to connect with customers is not a tactical decision, it’s a strategic one. Your social media presence needs to align with your other communication channels and its role defined and understood. It’s critical to have processes and tools in place to cope with demand, including the use of automation to manage consistent customer outreach and response. If you simply jump onto social media without a strategic plan, you risk inefficiency and inaccuracy, which can hurt your business.
Social media influences purchasing
If the first era of social media was audience building and engagement, the current era is focused on commerce and personalization. Nearly half (46%) of social media users are already using social platforms to research potential purchases. 40% of users are actively deciding what to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms, including reviews and recommendations, and this is only set to grow.
There are subtle differences between the roles each social network plays in the purchasing journey. For example, Pinterest is a great place for people to find inspiration and works well as a visual product storyboard. Facebook is well suited to people looking to share content with consumers and both offer and find promotions. LinkedIn is the Facebook of business professionals; a social media destination for researching potential customers and competitors, industry experts, as well as partners and suppliers.
12 statistics show how social media influences purchase decisions
81% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts. (Forbes)
Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. (Hubspot)
Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. (Business Insider)
31% of consumers say they are using social media channels to browse for new items to purchase. (Aimia)
Millennials are 1.6x more likely to use digital channels to learn about new products. (Facebook Insights)
84% of millennials say user-generated content from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy. (Gartner)
53% of consumers recommend companies or products in tweets, with 48% following through to purchase those products or services. (SproutSocial)
78% of consumers say companies’ social media posts impact their purchases. (Forbes)
Customers are 6x more likely to purchase a product if the page includes pictures from social media. (AdWeek)
Conversions increase 133% when mobile shoppers see positive reviews before buying. (Bazaarvoice)
In 2015, Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases. (DigitasLBi Commerce)
Global social commerce revenue reached $30 billion in 2015 (Statista)
Key social influencers can make or break a brand
Every social media network has its key influencers and thought leaders. If you’re not part of their world, you risk not being relevant to them. You risk losing mindshare to more socially aware competitors who are willing to be bold and innovative in their marketing campaigns. And if none of the key social media influencers for your target audience are interested in your company and its products or services, it’s much harder to get your message across to prospects.
Malcolm Gladwell identified three types of influencers in his book “The Tipping Point:”
The Mavens: They are typically industry experts and other knowledgeable influencers. They write and share informed content, and that’s what attracts people. Examples: health and fitness experts, teachers, etc.
The Salesman: Salesmen are influencers with immense persuasive power. Anyone can be a salesman, but specialty marketing and digital marketing industry influencers fit into this category
The Connectors: Connectors have an exceptional network and exceptional reach. They are masters of word-of-mouth marketing. Celebrities, for example, are connectors.
Depending on your brand’s personality and your specific campaign goals, you need to decide which types of influencers and content you need. You may even need a combination of two or all three characteristics.
Expert endorsements also increase brand credibility. In most B2B markets, expert opinions are highly sought after and can make or break products. It’s important to remember that customer ratings and reviews on social media can increase conversion rates through the power of peer influence — feedback from another customer is typically seen as trustworthy.
Of course, it’s even better if you are seen as an industry thought leader – and social media is a perfect tool for positioning your business as one. Highly valuable, relevant content; informative, educational blog posts; eBooks and other objective online content serve as effective tools to help you gain visibility and recognition as an industry expert.
Share what you know – you’ll be rewarded for it
Sharing valuable information across social media channels used by your target audience is an immediate and impactful way to gain visibility for your business. Social sharing engages your prospects, builds customer loyalty, and empowers them to become promoters of your brand.