Today’s guest blogger is Samantha Porter, who is a writer and researcher for Marketing Degree, an online marketing education site who is interested in, and predominantly writes about, the way technology has changed our lives. She also writes about all aspects of marketing and sales on an online resource that covers a multitude of topics, including who should earn marketing certifications and how they can improve your business.
The importance of social media marketing has been remarked upon multiple times by Mindjumpers, most recently in an article about using Facebook games to build up your brand. In fact, social media marketing is a relatively new branch of advertising that has taken the digital world by storm, as I will discuss today.
Not long ago, the majority of web users considered social media to be a strictly leisure-based enterprise. However, industry experts now extol the virtues of social media marketing – if used effectively.
Ten years ago, sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were yet to exist. Today, this form of neo-technology is integral throughout the corporate world. According to MDG Advertising, 76% of businesses use social media to accomplish commercial goals, while 64% of professional marketers incorporate these platforms into their advertising plans. Marketers gauge the success of social media campaigns using a handful of metrics, including site traffic, conversion rate, new fans/subscribers, re-posts/re-tweets, page views and increased revenue. In addition to these metrics, roughly 72% of marketers said social media helped them close deals. Significant ROIs were also reported by 15.4% of companies that use Facebook, 11.4% of companies that use Twitter and 10.9% of companies that use LinkedIn. And 64% of businesses have stated that using social media allowed them to recruit high-quality employees.
Why is social media marketing so effective?
If so many companies are able to capitalize on social media marketing, the question remains: Why is it such an effective business strategy? James Debono of Social Media Today says it is because social media is ubiquitous in contemporary business. Roughly 94% of all businesses utilize at least one social media platform as a brand marketing strategy. The leading platform, Facebook, earned $3.8 billion last year in advertising alone – and the estimate for 2012 surpasses $5 billion. But the lucrative results are reciprocal; Debono notes companies that utilize social media can greatly increase their exposure and brand recognition. Furthermore, social media marketing is in any company’s best interest simply because, chances are, their competition has already beaten them to it. “If you aren’t [using social media for business] already,” he writes, “then you should be.”
Social media marketing: Inarguably cost-effective
Social media marketing is also cost-effective. The most popular platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc – charge nothing of users who want to build profiles on the site and network with potential colleagues. Furthermore, hiring a social media representative to maintain online activity can exponentially increase business returns – especially considering that one person can usually handle the tasks alone. And as Shelley Frost of chron.com notes, the more money a company invests in social media, the greater the dividends: “Including social networking in your business promotional plan allows you to stretch your advertising dollars further than usual,” he writes. “The money you allocate for promotions can go to other forms of advertising or to purchase prizes for social networking contests or promotions.”
Know your audience – and connect!
However, many marketers have noted drawbacks to social media as well. Tracey Sandilands of Demand Media notes that social media is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and updating in order for companies to remain relevant. Manny Mandrusiak of 4Bravo Marketing says that companies often mishandle social media by posting content that is irrelevant and fails to engage visitors – and negative feedback from customers can be viewed by anyone who visits a company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. And while many platforms afford the administrator some convenience, they are not without their limitations; marketers must continue to practice SEO techniques, for instance, to ensure people are visiting the site in the first place.
Despite these drawbacks, social media marketing is considered a standard of modern-day business – and judging by current trends, it is likely to remain this way in the years to come. But businesses need not be intimidated by using social media. By capitalizing on its strengths – and recognizing its limitations – marketers can use social media campaigns to achieve highly lucrative results for their company.