Yellow pages, radio advertising, direct mail, television commercials, magazine ads, etc.. are examples of these traditional advertising methods. These conventional types of marketing are no longer effective as many consumers have become blind to the ‘one way’ messaging. The message has been overdone and people no longer trust advertisers. A recent survey found that only 14% of people trust ads while 76% of people trust consumer recommendations. Accordingly, more marketers began seeking alternative ways to connect with potential consumers.
Marketing on the Internet was originally made popular by utilizing Websites and optimizing those sites through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. While still a worthwhile strategy, SEO has been updated by Web 2.0 strategies, such as social media marketing. Social media marketing is when companies utilize Web 2.0 platforms, such as blogs, social networking sites (like Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Twitter, & YouTube) and other emerging online marketing tools. The benefit of web 2.0 platforms versus traditional means of advertising, and even traditional website marketing, is that it involves ‘two-way communication’, where users are empowered to generate content and businesses are incentivized to communicate with their customers.
The days of broadcasting your product or services message out to the masses and hoping for a response are gone. People don’t want to purchase from nameless, faceless companies. Not only are consumers paying attention to the ‘man behind the curtain’, but they also want to know what others are saying about your product or service. A recent study concluded that 80% of US Internet using moms were influenced by word-of-mouth from friends and family when making a purchase decision. No other media platform allows for small businesses to benefit from consumer word of mouth advertising like social media marketing.
Benefits Of Social Media Marketing
- Increased New Customer Acquisitions – The main advantage of social media marketing is that you will have the opportunity to connect with networks of potential customers that you would otherwise be unable to come across utilizing other traditional marketing techniques and even SEO.
- Word of Mouth Marketing– Word of mouth marketing has always been the most influential way to generate sales. With social media marketing, you are able to create raving fans who will voluntarily promote your product and services to their networks of friends. Of course, if your product or service is poor, you may suffer the reverse benefits of this.
- Brand Awareness – Branding your business using social media marketing is much simpler, faster, and less expensive to achieve than the traditional advertising medium or even website marketing.
- Customer Retention – Web 2.0 platforms are the perfect places to communicate with your customers about new products, special promotions, or merely to educate them on your business. Through consistent, FREE communication, you can keep your company in front of your customer’s eyeballs which will in turn lead to repeat business and referrals. Remember, the key to this type of communication is to be content rich; don’t use these avenues to pitch your product or service.
- Rapid Results – The effective and successful implementation of a social media marketing plan will create almost immediate results for your business. This increase can be quantified through increased site traffic, increased lead acquisition, and ultimately increased sales. Unlike radio or TV ads, where your customers disappear once the ads go off air, these web 2.0 platform benefits will continue long-term as long as the communication and updating of your social media presence is maintained.
Why Aren’t More Businesses Utilizing Social Media Marketing?
Quite frankly, most businesses don’t know how to create or implement this type of strategy. What options to small business owners have when seeking to create & implement a social media marketing plan:
Hire an employee– while leveraging the time, experience, and services of others is a smart way to do business, many times this strategy fails. Why? Ultimately, it is up to the small business owner to create the plan and manage the employee. However, most business owners don’t understand web 2.0 enough to create a plan and haven’t a clue how to manage the employee. Plus, paying an employee increases your labor costs, your payroll taxes, your benefit, etc…
Outsource– outsourcing is a better alternative to hiring an employee as you won’t have to hire, train, manage, and pay an employee to perform these functions. However, there is a price for these benefits. Outsourcing these services can be very expensive. I’ve known social media companies to charge over $1,000 to create a Facebook Fan Page. This task takes, at most, 20 minutes to set up. Again, the problem revolves around education. Unless you understand how social media marketing works, then you shouldn’t hire or outsource the tasks unless you’re willing to overpay.