Let me share with you two of the most important things you need to know about social media marketing. Together they explain why so many small businesses fail to get good results - essentially because a focus on getting results as quickly as possible simply kills what they're trying to achieve.
Here are the two key considerations you have to make a key part of your social media plans and aspirations:
Let's look at each of these in turn.
Social media advertising - and Facebook advertising in particular - has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to marketing your business. Often it's possible to secure clicks from these sites for a fraction of the cost that it'll take to get that traffic from Google.
Sounds too good to be true?
Well in a sense it is. You see when you bid to have an advert appear on Google, you are putting your business in front of people who want what you offer right now. They have a need and your business fulfils that need. So the odds of converting that traffic into a sale are good.
Let's consider the example of someone searching for "Lexus car leasing deals". Every time your Google advert appears on this search result page, the chances are high that the person is considering leasing a Lexus car. So if you pay to have them click through to your website, they are a very hot prospect.
Let's now consider the alternative of paying to advertise your car leasing company on Facebook. We can apply detailed demographic targeting to put that advert in front of the types of people who would be most likely to want to lease a Lexus. But how many of them are actually looking to do that right now, rather than at some point in the next 6, 12 or 24 months? The answer is a far far lower proportion.
The same logic holds true, whether you are using social media advertising to attract job applications from candidates, drive online sales, spark enquiries from prospects or any other desired outcome. The chances of that person converting on their first visit to your website is significantly lower when they have come from a broader social media advert as compared to a highly targeted Google advert.
That's why social media agencies will advise your business to look at social media advertising as an investment that needs to span many months to start yielding results. Your first adverts simply extract from the broader demographics you're targeting that portion of the audience who could be genuine prospects for your business in the future. Ongoing advertising to that smaller audience segment then ensures that you are in front of them at the point at which they are ready to act - which may be many months down the line.
This first point dovetails nicely into the second consideration, namely that people are far less likely to buy from a business they don't know and trust - and will only do so if you are solving an immediate problem they simply have to overcome.
Imagine you have a wasps' nest in your home. You want to have the problem dealt with ASAP. For such a problem you might well search on Google - and the first businesses you see that look credible and / or have good online reviews you are likely to pay to come and solve the problem. But for most businesses that's not the case. People are likely to take time in deciding whether to buy what you offer (and from whom), to be influenced by whether they have had any previous interactions with your business or other competitors in your market. So it stands to reason that social media advertising will be far more effective in producing results if it is targeted at people who already know and trust your business.
The upshot of this is that the first goal of a business on social media should be to raise its profile and become known and trusted by the particular audience it wants to do business with. This might be by organically growing the company's fan / follower base on social media; or by achieving greater reach and credibility through leveraging influencer marketing; or by paying to run social media advertising campaigns purely to achieve this trusted brand status.
The key learning from both of the above points is that it's critical to allow social media marketing the necessary time to start producing results. Cave in to pressures from the business to "achieve results more quickly" and you will almost certainly doom your social media marketing efforts to producing mediocre results. By contrast, treat social media marketing as a marathon - rather than a sprint - and the odds of you generating great results are raised exponentially.
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