This is a guest post by David Smith, a conversion rate optimization consultant working for ConversionRate.net.
Every day, a growing number of companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon. They’re blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubeing, and creating custom social media campaigns so they can connect with customers and “join the conversation”—whatever that means. In fact, this year alone, companies will spend about $900 million on social media marketing. By 2014, social media spending is estimated to eclipse $3 billion a year. It’s one of the fastest growing channels of marketing.
But what exactly are companies getting out of their social media marketing efforts? From what I’ve seen, not much. Most companies are blindly navigating their way through the new social media landscape one meaningless Tweet at a time. In short, they’re going nowhere fast, and they’re wasting a lot of time, money, and resources doing it. That’s because too many companies dive into social media marketing without a plan. And like the old saying goes, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”
The first step to creating a plan for your social media campaign is to set realistic goals. What do you want to achieve through social media marketing? Here are 5 realistic goals you can strive for.
1. Improve Search Engine Rankings
Social media marketing can be a powerful tool for increasing your organic search engine rankings. Social media sites like Digg, ReddIt, StumbleUpon, YouTube, and Twitter can do wonders for boosting your search engine visibility as Google weighs links from social media sites and even ranks those social media mentions to help you take up more space in the SERPS.
Additionally, whenever you promote your content through social media, you can earn more links as more people will begin to link to your content on their blogs and websites, creating a viral effect. Of course, the more natural back links you have, the better your search engine rankings will be.
To maximize the SEO benefits of social media, you need to create relevant content on hot topics that your audience cares about. Having strong, linkbait-style headlines can also go a long way to driving more traffic and earning more back links.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
One of the great things about social media marketing is that it levels the playing field by giving small businesses a voice. Small businesses that blog and interact with their target audience on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites can raise awareness for their company, letting customers know who they are and what they do.
A word of advice: Don’t treat social media like a typical advertising medium. Rather than shouting your offers to your Twitter followers, focus more on being personable and building relationshipsand trust with your audience.
3. Increase Positive Brand Mentions Online
Social media has given consumers a voice. Now, customers share their experiences with companies—good and bad—on Twitter, Facebook, review websites, forums, and more. There’s a good chance that your company has been mentioned already.
By creating a strong social media presence, being aware of what’s being said about your company, and reaching out to your customers, you can work to minimize negative brand mentions and earn more positive mentions. Reach out to those who say negative things about your company to see if there’s anything you can do to rectify the situation. And also, encourage your satisfied customers to review you online.
4. Improve Overall Customer Service & Satisfaction Ratings
It’s interesting to see how social media has turned into a customer care medium for many companies. For example, AT&T recently decided to start using social media to reach out to customers who are having problems with their service.
This is a great way to connect with customers and solve their problems quickly. However, if you plan on using social media as a customer service tool, make sure you train employees on how to do so properly. Also, don’t get rid of your other customer service mediums as not everyone wants to talk to you online.
5. Earn More Sales
One of the biggest criticisms of social media is that it’s not a viable tool for driving sales and improving the bottom line. I disagree. Sony recently said they made an extra $1 million in sales thanks to Twitter, and Dell said their Twitter presence earned them $3 million more in sales. Some companies are even combining social media with other forms of marketing like direct mail to help spread the word about their offers and earn more sales.
You can also take advantage of the new group buying concept found on websites like Groupon and BuyWithMe. These websites allow you to create special offers that customers share via social media, earning you more sales and increased brand awareness.
Do you have any set goals for your social media campaign?
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