Organic Social Media Marketing
Over the years as a web designer, I have learned a thing or two about the many advertising mediums and promotional platforms that Squareflo's clients have used to promote their businesses effectively.
This is the first of a series of posts geared towards helping our clients (and anyone else reading this), learn about a variety of effective ways to drive traffic to your website and ultimately promote your business.
In this series, I'll cover a wide range of advertising mediums including; radio, TV, print, billboards, online pay-per-click (PPC) ads, search engine optimization (SEO), and more. Today's post will focus on organic social media marketing.
Just to clarify: "organic" social media marketing, is any social media marketing activity without paid ads, boosted posts, or any sort of paid promotion. In large part, your reach depends heavily on the number of followers you have, user interactions, and how the social media platform's algorithm distributes your posts accordingly.
Since Squareflo offers some internet marketing services, you might assume that my goal is to demonstrate that online advertising, social media, or search engine marketing is the best! If so, you would be wrong. My goal is to demonstrate that every advertising medium ultimately has its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding what they are and what to expect from each medium, allows our clients to decide which mediums to employ to promote their businesses the most effectively.
For our clients who don't have the time to do web marketing themselves or prefer to leave it to the experts, we do offer services like SEO, or PPC Ad Campaign management. However, the vast majority of our clients opt to take care of their own marketing.
I am sharing my insights with you today because, at the end of the day, I ultimately want to see our clients' businesses thrive. When our clients are successful and see success stemming from the performance of their website, it benefits us too! It is a win-win situation, regardless of who heads up the online marketing efforts, as happy clients are long-term clients.
So, if you are thinking of starting a social media marketing campaign, or are looking to hire a social media expert to take care of your business's social media strategy, take a few minutes to read this post.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snap Chat, Pinterest, and the various other lesser-known platforms that people are using these days, can be powerful tools for marketers. You are most likely already employing various social media platforms to create awareness and drive sales.
Simply creating profiles for your business and participating in "social" behaviour such as: regularly posting content, following, liking, and commenting can do wonders for a company or brand's "top of mind" awareness. Social media is where you can really showcase your brand's personality. And, if you do it right, you can really get people to fall in love with your brand.
Generally speaking, the more you put into social media, the more you'll get out. Let me explain this concept for a moment, to give you a clear picture of what I mean. I'm not saying every time you do any random post, you will achieve a direct sale. An effective social media campaign is strategy-based, meaning that it needs to be well thought out and executed properly to be effective. However, the execution part of the equation can be labour intensive.
As a business owner, you'll need to commit to putting the time and effort in to learn how to do it correctly or hire someone who already has social media marketing down to a science and knows how to achieve results. There are pros and cons to each method.
Posting or scheduling posts for future releases can be relatively easy to do. But... recognizing and generating quality content (photos, videos, graphics, copy, etc.) is what can be labour intensive and will without a doubt require some time and effort if doing it yourself. Suppose you don't have the time to create and post quality content regularly. In this case, it can be arguably more efficient and more effective (yet it will cost you a little more) to hire a professional photographer, video producer, graphic designer, writer, or a good jack-of-all-trades, to help. It is up to you to decide what works for your business.
If you've got the time to do so, you really don't need to hire professionals to craft your content. "Keeping it real" and sharing your perspective, from behind the scenes in a way that is unpolished can at times, be very effective. Shooting from the hip can often resonate with your social media users who crave honesty above all.
However you choose to approach social media for your business, one thing to keep in mind is that you need to be able to look past the apparent metrics. What I mean by this is that it's easy to get impressions and interactions, but not all impressions and interactions carry equal weight. It's not possible to track and determine if your strategy and efforts are increasing your sales or not, by just a glance at the numbers of "likes" you are getting.
To that point, here's a pro tip. Use Google Analytics, to find out if your efforts are effective or not. Make sure to look beyond the amount of traffic your website is getting from social media platforms. Set up "conversions" (also known as "goals" in Google Analytics Universal) that track every time you get a lead or an online sale. Then check the "source" of your website's traffic to see which traffic sources have the highest conversion rate. Doing this will clearly show you how effective your social media efforts are at actually driving leads or sales to your website.
If you are using social media to entice customers to visit your brick-and-mortar business, I wish I could say that there's a way to directly track sales as easily as checking Google Analytics, but it's just not the case. For that, you'll need to employ different techniques to track the impact your social media efforts have on your business's bottom line. Perhaps it's comparing sales before, during, and after a social media blitz. Or, maybe it's simply asking customers what brought them into the store that day and if they had seen the stuff you posted. It is up to you!
An important part of my job is checking the Google Analytics reports for the hundreds of businesses that rely on Squareflo for their web design needs. I use this information to help my clients adjust what they are doing online, to improve their sales. What I usually see when looking at the conversion rates of various traffic sources, is that social media platforms (like Facebook) are generally at the bottom of the list. Typically, conversion rates for any sort of social media activity, are far below the conversion rates of direct traffic, Google (organic) and Google (paid). Disappointingly, this is often despite the client investing a lot of time and effort into creating and posting content with the belief that it is helping them. That said, I think social media marketing can be very effective if executed correctly.
If you are looking for a business that I believe has an excellent social media marketing strategy that is well-executed, take a look at Leopold's Tavern. This popular "dive bar" franchise started in Regina, SK, and since its inception has relied heavily on social media marketing. Although they are not one of our clients, and thus I can't look at their analytics, it is evident that their social media efforts are hitting the mark. This is obvious when you consider that this business (as far as I can tell) does not rely on online or traditional advertising to drive sales. From 2013 to date, Leo's has expanded to 16 locations across Canada.
In summary, let me break down the pros and cons of social media marketing.
- Social media marketing can be pretty cheap to do if you have the time and skills required to create and post quality content.
- You can reach a lot of people. These days most people are active on one or more social media platforms.
- You get instant feedback (impressions, reactions, and comments), which can be exciting to see and will give you a clear indication if your message is resonating with people.
- You can do it yourself. You don't need to hire an expert.
- Positive feedback in the form of comments, likes, reviews, or getting tagged in user/customer-generated content can increase customer trust and a sense of legitimacy or competence.
- You can reach people, and get followers from all over the world
- Everyone is doing it. Most businesses have a social media presence, and it's becoming much harder to stand out and get results.
- Doing it right can be labour intensive and costly when you choose to rely on professional content creators.
- Because it's "free & easy" to promote a business on social media, tons of new or inexperienced companies rely on social media instead of other mediums that are seen as "expensive" or require advertising contracts. Thus, social media (in and of itself) does necessarily lend credibility to your business.
- Negative feedback in the form of comments, likes, and reviews can decrease customer trust and create a sense of illegitimacy or incompetence.
- You can reach people, and get followers from all over the world. ***If you are a business that offers a local product or service, many followers may end up as supporters but not actual customers. This is why impressions and interactions are not always good measures of success, and why it's important to focus on goals/conversions, instead.
If you are finding this post helpful, make sure to read my earlier post entitled "Stop Promoting Your Social Media Profiles On Your Website."
In one of my next posts, I will tackle the topic of Pay-per-click advertising, which will cover paid advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and will clearly show how you can hone in on your target market.
Hopefully, this post helps you wrap your head around organic social media marketing, whether you're thinking about starting a campaign or you are already doing it but not getting the results your business needs.
Care to share your social media marketing strategy? How do you measure the overall success of our efforts? Let me know in the comments below.