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The internet has revolutionized the way businesses approach their marketing budgets. One of the most important influences in this sense has been the rise of social media. Social media allows people to connect with each other to share what is going on in their lives with those that are most important to them. Businesses can use the same technology to engage customers through the use of social marketing.
What is social marketing? It is the use of social media to advertise your brand, engage your customers, and solicit feedback. The use of traditional media is on the decline. More people are spending the time that they once would have spent watching television surfing the internet. Much of this time is spent interacting on social media. Social media marketing allows you to engage people where they are spending more of their time.
The ability to have a two-way dialogue is what makes social media marketing so attractive. A television advertisement is a one-way communication to buyers. On the other hand, a Facebook post will solicit immediate feedback as to what your audience thinks about the post. They can like the post if they agree with it. If they find it really valuable they will share it with friends. They can even comment on the post to give you direct feedback and start a conversation. Even Google Adwords does not provide this level of immediate feedback on your advertisements.
Companies can use social media in a number of different ways. Soliciting feedback is just one example. If you are trying out a new recipe at your restaurant, let people know about it on social media. Then you can post something asking how they liked it. You no longer need to hire expensive survey firms or cobble together some sort of feedback form on your website. By posting to a social media page, you can instantly understand how people view changes in your business. You can also get insights on how people see you when compared to your competitors.
The most difficult part of social media marketing is to accumulate an audience. Some people will search for your Facebook or Twitter page when checking out your business. However, you really want to be proactive to capture as many potential and existing customers as possible. One way of doing this is to do an aggressive marketing campaign to people who already do business with you. Give away a special discount for people who subscribe to one or more of your social media properties. You can even set up an in-store table-based kiosk to where people can get discounts on the spot for subscribing to social media accounts and sharing the deal with their friends. This is a great way to stimulate viral traffic.
Viral traffic is one of the great boosts a business can get from social media marketing. This is the type of traffic that spreads like a virus; one person shares it with ten of her friends, who then share it with ten other friends, and so on. The traffic literally multiplies the more engaging it is. Add an incentive like a discount for generating shares and you will get even better results. If you have really engaging content, then an advertisement that only has a targeted reach of 100 people can be delivered to thousands or tens of thousands of people.
Social media has also become vital to maintaining your company’s reputation. Some social media companies will assign your business a page whether you like it or not. At these sites, customers can find out contact information and leave reviews. However, many of these sites will take the data from content data aggregators that might not even have the correct contact information for your business. As a result, it is absolutely vital that you claim all your social media profiles and make sure the information is correct. It is also important to engage with people leaving positive or negative feedback; people leaving positive feedback need to be thanked while you want to try to get people leaving negative feedback to change their minds.
One other great feature about social media is that you can get a better sense of your overall user base. For example, Facebook Insights can deliver specific information about who is subscribing to your Fan Page. You can find out which demographics you are appealing the most to and what other topics they are interested in. This can be used to better target new product launches and better craft your marketing message.
You can also use this information to target your ads. Networks that collect extensive databases on their users’ habits can be particularly useful in building your audience. You can use your data from existing users to build to build a profile of your ideal user. Then you can use that information to target other people that fit that profile. Facebook even has a tool that will generate a similar audience that you can use to market to. If you are just starting out and have no demographic data, you can target people who like competitors brands or subjects that you believe might be appealing to people you want to reach.
Social media marketing has helped many businesses to dominate their niches. If you do not take a more active role on social media, chances are you are going to be losing out on a lot of new business.