90% of all marketing professionals believe that using social media has increased the visibility of their company and the trust in their brand with two-thirds of them spending six or more hours a week cultivating their presence on these platforms (source: Content Factory).
But how can you make it work for your business? In this article, Forward Leading examines social media engagement focusing on:
- the key pillars needed for a successful social media strategy
- companies whose engaging storytelling, content marketing, and outreach strategies have created the most successful social media campaigns
- which tools your company should deploy to make new connections and to tell your story to new and existing customers
- how to measure whether your social media marketing has been successful or not
- the complex social media marketing landscape within Asia
Successful social media marketing
According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes 13 or more “touches” to take a person from being a potentially interested bystander to become someone who is ready to hear a sales pitch from you or one of your members of staff.
There are a number of reasons why it takes so many touches to get them to the point where they’re ready to buy. In short, however, the major two reasons are:
- they are just not ready to buy your product or service yet – for example, they may be in contract with another company, and
- the fear of corporate buyer’s remorse.
The fear of corporate buyer’s remorse is very different from and much worse than any buyer’s remorse that we might experience as individuals. If you make a poor purchasing decision in a personal capacity for yourself, you feel bad about it for a little while. If you make a poor purchasing decision in a corporate capacity, it not only affects a company’s profitability and efficiency but it also puts at risk any future chance of promotion you have or, even worse, you may lose our job.
With the stakes this high, it’s no surprise that corporate decision-makers, especially those with no financial stake in the organisation they work for, can prove themselves elusive and hard to sell to because they don’t know you and they don’t trust you. They only want to buy from suppliers that they feel confident won’t let them down and make others question their judgement.
How do you become known and trusted by your target buyers? A successful social media strategy will not only give you and your company greater visibility over your competitors but it may also greatly shorten the time between initial contact and sale.
The six key pillars needed for a successful social media strategy are:
- the production of your own great content which demonstrates your knowledge of and leadership in a certain specialism,
- getting that great content noticed by people who have far more connections than you (so-called “influencers”) in the hope that they share it with their followers,
- sharing content produced by others which you believe adds value to your followers’ businesses, and
- the willingness to share that knowledge and leadership with others by helping them even if there is no immediate opportunity for a sale,
- engaging with your audience as many times as possible in order that you can build up trust in both your company brand and your personal brand, and
- addressing questions and concerns online in real time to create productive conversations and outcomes.
Compared with other forms of marketing, the pay-off as measured by a higher numbers of orders is often quite delayed. Investment in social media marketing involves your own time (and that of your colleagues) as well as money. Content with images and videos perform particularly well on social media platforms however they will require you to commit even more resources to your campaign.
It’s not easy and there will be doubtless occasions when you feel you could be spending your time more productively. However, there are rewards if you stick at is as the following companies have demonstrated so well…
How engaging social media marketing worked for these companies
Social media marketing is particularly effective when you know who your target audience is and you’re clear on the message you want to communicate with them.
For example, HubSpot, a social media and digital marketing specialist, grew from $255,000 turnover in 2007 to $513,000,000 in 2018. Using their own marketing techniques, they built a social media sales funnel which delivered 400% more leads from their target audience than their other marketing channels.
Seeking to drive B2B sales, Samsung targeted five major UK cities using an emotional approach to convey the importance of the use of technology in the workplace.
This award-winning campaign combined the use of social media channels with out-of-home marketing and an event for innovators and leaders within each city. During the six weeks of the campaign, Samsung saw a 400% return on its marketing spend with a 34% increase in sales in the targeted areas.
Also in the UK, recruitment portal Jobsite UK started producing and distributing distinctive content about its brand and the positive results it delivered for clients and candidates, most famously launching a tongue-in-cheek competition styled after BBC TV’s “The Apprentice” on Twitter and Facebook. This approach gained the company 11,210 competition entrants (64% of whom came to the site via Twitter and Facebook) and increased their number of Facebook fans by 22%.
What are the best social media engagement tools?
On all major social media platforms, the level of content (text, images, and videos) uploaded every day is staggering. Even if you had each social media platform open on separate screens in your office with each screen refreshing every minute, you’d still miss things that could be of value to your company.
If you are juggling your social media marketing with other essential work tasks, it is better to use specifically-written programs and apps whose purpose is to keep a constant watch out for relevant content and opportunities to engage – otherwise known as “social media engagement tools”.
Social media engagement tools provide a number of different functions from the curation of content, discovery of other users’ content (by searching for specific phrases), timed publishing (set times and dates in advance for each post you make), analytics (monitoring metrics like number of likes, responses, and shares), and so on.
The apps and programs currently on the market range from free of charge (like Google Trends) to monthly subscription options like Hootsuite, Buzzsumo, Loomly, and SEMRush. Each app/program has its own suite of options contained within although, for many, there is a great deal of overlap on functionality. Before committing to a platform, make sure to review exactly what you will be getting for your money and whether an equally reliable and equally functional alternative might be available for a lower price.
How to measure social media success
Social media is a curious form of marketing in that it has the qualities of both:
- above-the-line marketing (mass media promotion not specific to individual consumers or businesses) and
- below-the-line marketing (like direct marketing in that individual consumers or businesses can be targeted by correct demographic selection although the identities of the recipients remain anonymous).
The most visible metric is the amount of engagement you receive from other users as measured by the number of followers you have, the number of likes your contributions to the platform gather, and the number of direct interactions your contributions receive. Most platforms reward users for higher levels of engagement with that reward being the assigning of more weight to each action you take. In other words, you become more important to the platform and the return you get on the time, money, and effort invested is that your post will feature higher and more prominently on your followers’ feeds.
Measuring your return on investment in the sense of the amount of extra business generated from social media is more difficult. If you sell more complicated, higher ticket products, the goal should be to build up the relationship with a prospect to such an extent that a phone call can be arranged to make an appointment for your sales rep.
If you sell to consumers, the likelihood that an appointment (telephone or face-to-face) will be needed to complete a sale will often be lower than B2B transactions. In order to discover what prompted a consumer to buy from you, you may wish to embed a URL with a tracking code in a particular post or you could encourage a customer to tell you how they found out about your company in a short questionnaire after you have taken their full order details.
Social media marketing in Asia
More so than other parts of the world, there is a uniqueness in the richness and diversity of languages, religions, and cultures in Asia. The Asia Pacific market is one of the fastest growing economic markets in the world and, for ambitious brands, the area presents a great deal of commercial opportunities. However, to fully exploit these opportunities, it is better to adapt your approach to the characteristics of the target populations than to adopt a more global approach.
Outside of China which operates a nationwide firewall policy which blocks or censors many social media sites, Facebook is the social platform of choice with an estimate 818,934,000 users across the continent (source: Internet World Stats). China’s major social network is WeChat (750 million users) and LINE is the preferred destination in Japan – however in many countries in the region, locally-targeted social media networks have struggled to expand beyond their borders (source: EConsultancy).
You may need to adopt a country by country strategy when marketing in Asia to see the best return on investment, in some companies having a specific approach targeting different demographics.