“60 percent of social media users create reviews of products and services” and “consumer-created reviews/ratings are the preferred source for information about product/service value, price and product quality”
–Nielsen Social Media Report: 2011
“Extra, Extra, READ ALL ABOUT IT!”
There was a time when someone yelling these words on the street corner with a stack of newspapers in hand, was the leading form of direct advertising for all businesses.
As marketing forms and techniques evolved over time with technology, and direct marketing became more efficient and viable with radio and television, businesses had it pretty easy when it came to developing a successful marketing campaign.
Considering that television and radio are limited in the volume of channels available to the individual consumer, it didn’t take much for a company to invest in a six month television campaign and see ROI before the campaign was even close to being over.
Now of course, the situation is completely different. Businesses have thousands of platforms and mediums that they need to utilize just to stay relevant, let along make a profit. This is where the age of the Internet comes into focus, as businesses are continuously reallocating their resources to fulfill online platforms, in order to attract and grow their audience.
According to eMarketer, businesses spent nearly $230 million less on traditional forms of media, while increasing online advertising by $558 million. Social Media has been a significant player in this advancement as well, as social-networking advertising dollars increased from $900 million in 2007 to $2.5 billion in 2011.
It makes complete sense when you think about social media as the kid standing out on the corner, yelling at people to buy their newspapers.
From my experience working with various businesses from across the country, most tend to understand that various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are popular and growing. What they don’t seem to understand, is what to do with it in order to make a profit.
This is where Top Of Mind Advertising (TOMA) comes back.
Social Media Optimization, at its very core, is a forum for peer-to-peer review. That’s it. As any traditional marketer knows, “word of mouth” is the strongest form of marketing and is the greatest way to increase sales, as decisions are made based on peer recommendations.
In a time where more people make financial decisions based on online reviews and comments than ever before, businesses should allow their social media handles to act as “word of mouth” advertising platforms. That’s why 61% of all U.S. marketers use social media to increase their lead-gen.
So to maximize your efforts and outcome, instead of exclusively focusing on offering tips and advice or industry news, adjust your social media strategy to open a channel of dialogue that sees your company speaking as a human being, not as a corporate entity.
For example, if you are a large company in size and reach, have one person manage your Twitter account and speak to your followers directly. Post topical comments on non-divisive issues like sports and entertainment to grow your audience. Answer questions when followers post them and @mention individual handles to create more of a personal image.
And of course, TALK to your audience and get them to talk back to you!
According to a report conducted by Social Media B2B last March, companies who actively use Twitter gain twice the amount of leads compared to companies who do not use Twitter.
Setting up contests, offering rewards or discounts, or even getting a celebrity endorsement are all great ways to get people to “Like” your Facebook company page, follow your Twitter account, or even re-pin your Pinterest posts.
Of course there is a substantial SEO value to be had when developing social media profiles and linking them back to your company website. But at the end of the day, my experience with business owners and SEO is that they are looking for an increase in sales before they are looking for a lower bounce rate.
So if sales are on your mind before properly expanding and advancing your online presence, then think about Social Media. The more dialogue your company is able to create and house within your online environment, the better your chances stand at increasing sales through peer review.