“Social media is like crack. Immediately gratifying and hugely addictive”- Gary Vee
Nothing perhaps sums up social media perfectly than the quote above by Gary Vee. No wonder Facebook has grown large enough to be considered to be the third most populous country in the world! Just think about it – as of 2019, there are 2.27 billion monthly active users on Facebook, more than 1 billion on Instagram, and over 326 million on Twitter.
Today, attention is a currency, and businesses that hold the most amount of it are winning. And what better place to get attention than on the numerous social media platforms that people keep coming back?
It is THE PLACE to be if you want to build up a fan following, increase brand awareness, generate leads and turn them into customers. Yet, so many business owners think that it’s okay NOT to have a social media presence. Or their business won’t fit in. And even if they are on Facebook or Instagram, they hardly give any thought about marketing on those channels. And I’m not talking about brick and mortar store owners; I’m talking about profitable online businesses generating thousands of dollars in revenue.
Hey guys, I’m Jeremy, and today I’m here to talk about WHY your online business should utilize social media marketing. So, keep on reading!
What and Why Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing, commonly referred to as SMM, is a broad category in itself, but often means creating, sharing, and promoting content on social media to get a desirable outcome.
It can be more leads, more sales, increased brand reach, or just communicating with prospective and existing customers.
SMM includes activities like posting videos, text and picture updates, polls, stories (in the case of Facebook and Instagram) and other content that engages the audience. Remember what I said about attention being currency? Then there’s the most powerful of them all (in the right hands, of course): paid advertising.
Now, I’ll be brutally honest here: it’s not all fun and games when it comes to SMM. I know because I used to think the same, but then the reality hit me hard as I got deeper into the game. We can’t all be like Gary Vaynerchuck or Tim Ferris. That’s a fact! But it also doesn’t mean we should never try in the first place. It’s because I dared to try that I now know what works and what doesn’t. And I’m glad that I learned from failures and can now help you learn from mine.
Still wondering if taking this leap of faith is worth it? I’ll explain why it’s a resounding YES!
Why use Social Media Marketing for your online business
1. To boost your site’s SEO
Okay, I’ll start with a point that’s kind of not obvious. And as someone who has been into eCommerce and paid ads, it took me a long time to understand SEO and how important it is for a site’s visibility.
Now, a lot of gurus might disagree and say increase in Google rankings have nothing to do with social media and everything with content and link building; I’d disagree. Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine which content is worth promoting, and among them, traffic is a major one! Then there is time spent on site. Social media can help boost rankings if you drive targeted and enthusiastic (warm) traffic towards your page/post. Since warm traffic will spend more time on your site, Google will see it as a decisive factor.
A lot of times, you can merely reshare your posts and drive new traffic. The higher you are in Google’s search rankings, the more traffic and sales you’ll get.
2. Understand your audience better
Very few things can give you an edge over your competitors than knowing them better. That’s why all the biggest companies in the world spend so much money on market research and learning audience behavior. You don’t have to make significant investments as a solopreneur or a small business owner; you have to interact with your customer base. Read their tweets, status updates, and you’ll get a lot of knowledge about their lives.
• What products are they interested in?
• What are they buying and why?
• What kind of posts get the maximum number of likes and shares?
• Which posts are getting more engagement via comments?
• What websites do they visit regularly?
What TV shows do they watch, what are their hobbies, which team in the Super Bowl do they support, and so much more! To a novice or someone who has little experience in SMM, this information may feel useless. But ask any veteran, and they’ll tell you why it is gold!
When you understand customers, you can write better content. And when you write more compelling content, it leads to more traffic and sales. You can also identify the pain points of the customers, improve sales rates, or redefine your product strategy.
3. Build relationships with your audience
When was the last time you pulled out your smartphone out of the pocket to do something “productive?” Can’t remember? Neither can I!
You see, we are glued to our smartphones because of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. and there are plenty of eyeballs to be grabbed. So, you must put your best effort in building and nurturing relationships with the audience on those platforms.
Business is all about building relationships. However, most marketers don’t understand that consumers see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as social networks; not marketing platforms where they are being sold to. So, don’t try to hard sell at every opportunity. Try to provide as much helpful info as possible, answer their questions, and form bonds over mutual interests.
Basically, appear as a friend, not a salesperson. Sure, this might be a long-term approach, but the effort is truly worthwhile. As time passes, your leads will become followers, and followers will turn into customers, and customers will become promoters of your brand. And the cycle continues…
4. Social media advertising gets you highly qualified leads
One of the best parts of advertising on social media platforms like Facebook is that it allows you to target and retarget your audience. Facebook ads, for example, lets you narrow in on customers by specifics like location, age, level of education, and even behavior.
Want to target women between 30 to 40 years of age who like Louis Vuitton bags? You got it!
Facebook will look through their comprehensive database and find that out for you. There’s influencer marketing as well, in which you pay a ‘celebrity’ of sorts to promote your products or services. I personally prefer paying up front, but some influencers are open to the idea of accepting commissions on sales.
See what’s happening here? You’re essentially tapping into someone else’s network and making sales off their goodwill. That’s the power of social media for you.
5. Offer excellent customer service
The days of keeping your customers waiting on the phone line have long passed. Quick customer service isn’t an option anymore – it is a necessity.
In the age of instant gratification, you have to make sure customers have their problem solved quickly. Unfortunately, not many companies are paying heed to this fact. A study done by Sprout Social found that customers want social media responses within 4 hours, yet they are made to wait at least 10 hours on an average. And here’s why they call out brands:
Image via Sprout Social
This study by Twitter reveals that customers are willing to pay up to $20 more on future ticket purchases when the airlines respond to their call within 6 minutes. Why do you think companies like Amazon pay so much attention towards customer service and fulfillment? It’s because they know that customer satisfaction is king and repeat sales is what drives the business forward.
6. Your competitors are already social
If your competitors are already slaying it on social media, you should try it as well. No, I don’t care how intimidating social media branding may look, you just gotta do it. One step at a time.
The social media branding world is competitive, sure, but not every niche is equal. I’ve found that most small businesses don’t care about developing an effective social media strategy at all. Now that’s good news for you! Most small business owners – online or offline – create a Facebook page and lets it sit there doing nothing.
They don’t regularly make posts, engage with their already small number of followers, or bother about building a brand voice. The truth is, social media is not a place for the lazy or inefficient. And honestly, I’m still working on mastering the social media game like I’ve mastered selling through ads and blogging.
So, if your online business has a social media presence, but it’s just not quite there yet, don’t worry; that makes two of us.
7. Establish yourself as an authority
People like buying, but hate being sold to – you have probably heard that line before.
But how do you sell without “selling?” By becoming an authority figure in your industry, of course!
Now, it’s also true that becoming an authority is easier said than done. But the benefits it brings is immense, to say the least. As an authority in your niche, you’ll enjoy:
• The love and admiration of your followers
• More sales via referrals from happy customers
• More sales without you having to be ‘salesy’
• Build up brand loyalty that’ll drive engagement and revenue for years to come
• Spend less on paid ads and SEO
• Fewer customer complaints
And that is just the tip of the iceberg! But how do you go about showing yourself as an expert? Well, what I do is provide detailed answers to questions on Quora, join Facebook groups and provide value to the members, and blog. Blogging isn’t exactly a part of my social media strategy, but it does help me present myself as an expert. You’re reading this blog, aren’t you?
8. SMM is fun (at least to me)
Speaking purely from a personal perspective, social media marketing is fun. There’s something about creating media and getting it out in front of the audience that I’ll never get bored of. There is always this doubt and anticipation involved in putting yourself out there.
“What if people don’t like my content?” – that’s a question I ask myself all the time but go ahead and put my stuff out there anyway for everyone to judge.
Besides, what’s there not to like about memes, pop culture references, hosting Q&A sessions, and having a one-on-one by going on Facebook live? I also enjoy tracking analytics in ads manager, A/B testing (split testing) to find out what works and what doesn’t, and of course, the attention of being in front of an audience brings. You’ll get the hang of it too.
9. The Best ROI on social media Ads
Forget Google Ads; social media marketing is where the money is at. As of 2018, the average cost per click (CPC) in Google AdWords ranged from $1.20 to $5.27 for travel and tourism to education and employment respectively. If you think that’s too much, cost per acquisition (CPA) – the money you need to spend to acquire a single customer – is, even more, ranging from less than $20 to more than $200 in the legal industry.
Some of the most expensive keywords are divorce attorney, Cloud computing, solar installation, car insurance brokers, and press release distribution. Facebook and Pinterest ads, on the other hand, can give you as much as 10x more traffic and leads with the same amount of money spent.
Beginner’s tips for getting started with SMM
If you’ve read this far, then you’re also probably wondering what would be the best way to get your feet wet in SMM?
Well, since “online business” can mean many things, I’m going to try and offer some general advice. This should apply if you run a dropshipping business, you’re an affiliate marketer, do freelance graphic design or video editing, offer copywriting, consultation and coaching to business owners, and much more.
1. Decide the best social media platform
The only thing worse than being nowhere is being everywhere. The first objective of effective SMM is to identify the ideal social media platform. It can be Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and you have to determine where your audience hangs out and offer value.
For example, Instagram marketing efforts do work well for e-commerce as it’s a visual-social platform and you’ve got products to sell. Pinterest works great if you want to drive traffic to your blog that’s full of images. Facebook and Twitter can be used for multiple purposes including brand promotions, shoutouts, responding to customers, etc. while LinkedIn is best for building up your professional network.
2. Have a plan of action ready
What bugs me the most about new online business owners on social media is that they don’t have a plan of attack ready. Or take consistent action. They just create accounts on multiple channels out of excitement and forget all about it.
This is not how you succeed! Have a plan ready. Maybe a few image posts that would go live every week or so for the next two months. If you have a new Facebook page, ask your friends and family to like it. If you’re on Instagram, post regularly. Engage with your audience. While all your efforts may not seem much in the beginning, I promise it’ll compound.
If you’re also looking for resources, check out this list of the best Facebook marketing books curated by Voymedia.
3. Join relevant Facebook groups
One of the best ways freelancers and service-based businesses can find new gigs is by joining relevant groups on Facebook.
BUT… and that is a big but (pun totally intended), remember to offer massive value to the members before even thinking about pitching. Seriously, don’t be salesy.
As you build up connections, people would automatically start taking you as an authority, and more than likely offer their business or send referrals your way. You’re playing the long game, so don’t lose patience.
4. Prepare to lose money on ads
Seriously? Now, this is something very few want to talk about. If you’re going to invest in ads sooner or later, you might as well start preparing to lose some money up front. Very few people have had instant success with paid advertisements because it takes time for Facebook to optimize your ads and deliver them to the best possible demographic. Facebook advertising is all about testing, tweaking, and measuring data.
5. Keep a tab on your competitors
But don’t get obsessed with everything they are doing. I made this mistake in my rookie years, and it cost me dearly. Looking at competitors is fine as long as you’re learning what’s working for them and intend to use it for your own benefit. This way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel continuously. Sure, being original is essential, but what’s more important is that you always keep moving forward.
Well, that’s about all I got to say about social media marketing for online businesses. Everything you read so far is based on my personal experiences, and I sincerely hope this post helps you to avoid some mistakes that I made.
Marketing on social media may appear intimidating at first, but with each little step, you can go a long way to fulfill your business goals. So, keep the hustle alive and just do it! I’ll be back with another value-packed post real soon!
Jeremy has been running several online businesses behind his laptop for the past 5 years and he has worked as a freelance web developer previously. A trained marketer by profession, he also has Ruby on Rails and web development knowledge. His forte lies in eCommerce, SEO and content marketing. He’s been featured on Vice, Thrive Global, YFS Magazine, Forbes and several other publications. He prefers to connect with people on LinkedIn.