It seems that social media has taken over the world in the last few years. Hashtags appear in the most surprising of places, and words such as 'trending' and 'defriending' are starting to become commonplace. Modern marketing wisdom has it that every product or service needs a social campaign to promote it, but is this really the case?
There's no doubt that, in many circumstances, social media can be a powerful driver of brand awareness and ultimately sales, but not every business is a good fit for this form of promotion. Here are five questions to ask before deciding whether social media marketing is a potentially lucrative activity for your business.
- Are your potential customers on social media?
Myth: Only young people are active social media users. Truth: Although young social media users were early adopters of the technology, usage among older U.S. adults has increased over the years. In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, you can see the growing trend and age correlation.
Certain platforms attract a specific demographic. For instance, if you're looking to connect with high-powered commercial decision makers, Snapchat isn't likely to be a successful hunting ground, but LinkedIn would be a great place to start.
To generate results, you need to match your product or service to a platform where a receptive audience can be found—if indeed such a platform exists. Want to discover the platform your audience lives on? Consider holding focus groups or surveying your current customer base. These simple activities will give you invaluable insight into your target audience.
- Do you have a compelling and relatable story to tell?
Although social media marketing can take many forms, you need to find a way to engage with your potential customers. Compared to many other forms of marketing, social is about connecting with customers and building your brand, rather than directly driving sales. Things like blogs and creative content can be highly beneficial when working to build your brand and can go a long way in building your credibility.
Consider using the information you find in the research and focus groups you’ve conducted to create a meaningful and relatable content strategy. If your content marketing is engaging, your target audience will be back for more.
- Are your competitors working social?
Although following the herd for the sake of it is rarely a sound business strategy, if all your competitors are conducting social media campaigns, that’s a strong indicator that there are positive results to be enjoyed. It's also clear by now that social is more than a passing fad and is set to continue growing strongly. If you choose not to participate in social media marketing, you may get left behind by your rivals at this stage, and it will be extremely difficult to make up lost ground in the future.
Do your research, and take a look at your competition. Can you find their strengths and identify any weaknesses that you may be able to capitalize on? If so, take that approach when developing your own social media marketing strategy.
- Can you fully commit?
A halfhearted social media campaign is often worse than none at all because you risk painting your business in an amateur light. If you're planning on entering the social arena, you need to make social media campaigns an integrated part of your overall marketing strategy.
Consider building out buyer personas for your business and finding out if their needs match the amount of time you can dedicate to the craft. Do they want to hear from you daily, twice a week, or bi-weekly? If you can’t commit to producing content in a consistent manner, you may not want to take on the social realm.
Need help building your buyer personas? Check out our article here.
- Do you have the budget?
Similar to traditional marketing efforts, an effective social media campaign will require funding. Even though the response to social media marketing can often be seen in real time, it's not always easy to gauge if there's a direct return on investment. It can sometimes take weeks or months to see solid results. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider an online social media ad campaign through Facebook, or look to an outside marketing firm for help. Hiring a professional for something you are less than familiar with can sometimes yield greater returns than using your own valuable time.
Gone are the days when social media was seen as a frivolous time sink. If you’re serious about taking your marketing to the social world, do your research and make sure it’s the right fit for your product and/or service. If your target audience isn’t on a specific social media platform, perhaps social media marketing isn’t for you. That’s OK! No one says you MUST be on social media. Just be sure you’re capitalizing on all the opportunities to reach your right target audience.