Traditional marketing resources have expanded with newer concepts birthed out of the business social media wave of marketing tools.
One of the major differences between todays business social media marketing tools and the traditional marketing toolset is that social media opens up two-way communication between your company and your target audience.
The 4P’s of marketing generally involve creating a product, pricing it competitively, properly positioning or placing it in the marketplace and then promoting that product to increase sales.
Business social media involves enhancing the 4P’s of marketing with the 4C’s of social media, Content, Concepts, Connections and Community.
To properly integrate traditional marketing with business social media resources, requires proper planning and a well thought out social media marketing plan.
Planning for Business Social Media …
To prepare and implement the powerful two-way communication tools offered through social media, marketers need to familiarise themselves with the most common business social media tools available, including :
To provide information to visitors about your company history, mission and vision. Provide contact information and other details. This is a marketing connector.
To write expert articles and posts and to receive feedback from readers. All of the 4Cs apply here;
- content from expert writers
- concepts by providing written advice, tips and techniques
- connections with readers through comments and feedback
- community building by getting others to follow your blog or social media business pages
To communicate with fans and followers. Using 140 characters or less, usually on a daily basis, for connecting and community building.
Using social networks
To promote profiles and connect with others through messaging, chats, photos and videos. This resource can also be used to announce events and gather followers or for asking people to like or +1 products and services or events. All the 4Cs apply in social networking.
Uploading to video networks
Is a way to get product and service information videos to customers. Concepts and communications are the 4C’s applicable here.
Using social search engines
Such as Craigslist allows customers to look up a company and then rate it.
After becoming familiar with the above tools, the next step is to brainstorm specific ways to use each tool.
Then your company should set goals, including the desired results for using social media along with ideas for measuring your efforts and any positive or negative affects.
Goals and Objectives for Business Social Media
As part of the business social media plan, goals and objectives have to be established first.
There are several ways to get this done. One is to gather all the people involved into a business social media team to start answering a series of questions such as:
- Who does the company want to connect with (customers, colleagues, potential customers, competitors, etc.)?
- Do company leaders want to be viewed as experts in your industry? Experts that can be trusted to share information ethically.
- Does your company want to read, listen to and respond to what is actually being said about it?
- Is generating collaborative participation in setting up your company’s business social media marketing important?
- Can or should potential new customers be reached using the same message and in the same manner used to reach established customers?
- Is your company ready to commit to regular daily or weekly updates for all the social media platforms you have selected?
And finally, brainstorm some of the ways your company can use the same messages developed through traditional marketing resources, within your social media efforts.
Using Business Social Media to Generate Revenue
Marketing has as many theories attached to it as it has tools to carry out those theories.
Bottom-line, marketing is all about reaching out to customers, clients, investors, suppliers or others associated with company sales, promotion and growth.
That all important outreach component makes it a perfect match for using social media tools.
The traditional marketing formula centers around creating products, placing them in the market place through branding and then promoting to generate sales.
Business social media adds new dimensions and another set of tools to compliment the more traditional marketing tools.
Social Media Marketing Do’s & Don’ts:
Remember; Business Social Media is Open and Transparent
One of the positive aspects of using business social media resources is that the posts and articles your company representatives make, need to be open and transparent.
If your latest post or tweet invites followers to a sales event, make sure to include the word sales in the headline.
Inviting followers to an event for fun, food and a good time is totally different to inviting them to an event for fun, food and a sales presentation.
You will only get away with a clandestine message once; after that followers will start tweeting about your misleading offers.
Generally, it’s unacceptable to do outright marketing or direct selling using any of the social media platforms.
So how does your company use social media to entice people to purchase products or services?
Well you use your social media resources to drive potential customers to your website, to your brick and mortar business or to a sign up form for a promotional or special offers newsletter.
Once your follower voluntarily moves onto any one of those resources, you can sell your heart out.
Here are just a few tips for effectively using social media to drive prospects to your point of sale :
- Integrate standard marketing messages about products and services that position or brand your company and your product while posting on blogs, tweeting messages or building profiles on social media sites such as Google Plus, Facebook or LinkedIn
- Take some of your blog posts and expand them into full length articles for use in your newsletters and always let blog followers know that a more in-depth article is available at no charge simply by signing up for your companys promotional newsletter
- Post regular customer surveys with free coupons on your website and then tweet followers to let them know there is a new coupon available via the web site only
- When holding an event or a product launch, tweet or post invitations for the event on your business and personal Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages
Creating Your Marketing Plan …
Marketing is a fundamental business process that is circular in nature because it never ends.
When one marketing cycle ends a new one begins using the same foundation and the same principles.
It is also an essential business practice that requires a formal written plan.
Every effective marketing plan is visionary, strategic, tactical, actionable and measurable.
Keeping those concepts in mind, there are eight major sections to include when creating your business marketing plan.
- Starting with the visionary, clearly write out achievable mission and vision statements. Summarize what the nature of the business, products or services offered and the markets the company will serve. Keep both statements limited to two or three sentences.
- Describe the target markets and the needs of the targeted group. Succinctly describe the customer and why your company can better serve the customers needs than the competition.
- Detail the competition. Write out what the competition does that works or doesn’t work. Then, detail how your company can serve the market better. Provide ideas on how your company will be positioned next to the competition and what sets you apart from the competition. Focus on the weaknesses and strengths of the competition.
- Fully describe products and services your company will offer to the target market. Provide an in-depth analysis of staff, expertise, costs, production, distribution, pricing and all details of what it will take to make and deliver products and services.
- Establish marketing goals that are strategic but realistic, achievable and measureable. It’s good to dream big. Nonetheless, it’s better to stay focused and set goals that are achievable. Look at budgetary needs when writing this section. Match the goals to what the budget will allow you to do.
- Decide on marketing and promotional actions to sell the company’s products and services. This section of the marketing plan should be tactical and actionable.
- Identify the marketing media mix in this section.
- Include specifics such as using brochures, business cards and/or websites
- Define which social media platforms to use such as Google Plus, Facebook or Twitter
- Decide on printed newsletters or e-newsletters, and advertising plans as well as where and when and how the company will use public relations as part of the marketing mix.
- Since digital marketing and promotion have become such a large part of the marketing plan these days, a subset of the marketing and promotional action items should be a section detailing the digital marketing to be used and how your company will use the various business social media platforms.
- Last, but certainly not least, is the section on measuring social media marketing effectiveness. It is always vital to know what worked and what failed when it comes to marketing.
Tracking Business Social Media Effectiveness :
As in using traditional marketing tools such as newsletters, brochures, business cards and advertising, social media resources also need a plan for measuring their effectiveness.
However, companies that host websites usually offer regular reports or statistics that show how many times a new visitor comes to your website, how long they stay, and what they clicked on, etc.
Blog and social media platforms also offer reports and insights on how many views the blog or post got, along with the number of comments, etc.
Those tools are usually offered as built-in feature. So, use the tools to their fullest and make adjustments as needed based on the data they provide.
To measure the use of your Google Plus, Facebook and LinkedIn offerings, you have to be a bit more creative.
The effectiveness of these social platforms involves more than just the number of followers, friends or connections.
One of the easiest ways to measure the effectiveness of using these sites is to encourage visitors to mention that they saw the information through one of the social media sources when they visit your website, landing page or come into your business for a special discount or gift.
Always include a ‘How did you find us’ option on contact forms or online submissions.
If you are not getting a responses to your posts or tweets, you may not be using the right social media marketing tool for your business or your customers.
While many of the social media tools are free to setup and use, they will cost your company in human resource time.
If the return-on-investment is not clear, you may have to reconsider your commitment to that particular netowrk.
Is Social Media Marketing Right for Your Business?
There are always only so many marketing dollars to go around and if your company is spending money on specific social media marketing tools and if those resources are NOT reaching your customers or generating sales, it’s best to look at other marketing tools.
Deciding if this is the case means tracking customer feedback and tracking e-newsletter subscriptions, online purchases, use of coupons, use of discount codes and your number of Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter followers.
To do this you have to utilise valid measurement tools and they should be included & costed in your social media marketing plan.