|How can SMEs get the best results from social media marketing?
Social media is often held up as a platform that has levelled the playing field between small and large businesses, particularly when it comes to marketing. But as with any marketing tool, the success you get from it depends on whether or not you’re using it properly. Could this then explain why many senior marketers appear to be unconvinced by the impact of social media on their business?
A new report by The CMO Survey, carried out in the US, found that almost half of senior marketers believe platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have only made an average contribution to profitability. Meanwhile, 4 in 10 said its impact had been below average. Yet many seem to accept the argument that social media cannot be overlooked and that they’ll be handing custom straight to their competitors if they aren’t visible on these sites. As a result, social media’s share of marketing budgets is set to rise from 10.6% this year to 20.9% by 2021.
It’s a strange dichotomy. They know they have to use social media and are willing to put money towards it, but don’t feel they’re getting a strong return on investment. However, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to ensure social media produces results for your company, especially if you’re a smaller business.
Set clear objectives
In order to measure success, you need to know exactly what you want to achieve. So if you don’t set clear goals and identify key performance indicators before launching a promotional drive, how can you possibly work out whether it has been successful or not? When devising goals, why not measure them against the SMART criteria? This is an acronym for 5 useful guidelines for business goals.
- Target a specific area for improvement.
- What indicator will you use to track progress?
- The goal must both be realistic and also attainable.
- Is it worthwhile and does it fit in with what your business needs right now?
- When do you want to see results by?
Once you have identified your goals, you can work out what numbers will provide you with a good indication of progress? With social media, this could be the level of engagement with specific types of content, such as the number of likes, shares and retweets, or even something as simple as the number of followers on your account.
Link it to your wider marketing strategy
The CMO Survey report asked marketers to rate how well their social media content is aligned with their overall marketing efforts between one and seven. The result was just a middling 4.2% which clearly shows that in order for social media to have a positive impact on a brand, it must fit seamlessly into what they are doing on other platforms. Even small steps like using the same colour scheme and logo on Facebook and Twitter that you use on leaflets, banner displays and promotional pens can go a long way towards making your brand message more consistent and cohesive.
Make use of customer data
Even the smallest businesses can gather and access a mine of information about their customer base – and this can be hugely valuable if you’re looking to engage with people via social media. For example, find out what social networks are popular with your audience. After all, you don’t want to waste time and resources targeting people on Facebook when the people you want to attract are mainly on LinkedIn. Also, find how often people wish to be contacted, and what kind of content are they receptive to? Do they prefer videos, infographics, or written articles? By finding out the answers to these simple questions, you’ll get much better engagement rates through your social media channels. Integrating customer data effectively can be the key to delivering a more targeted campaign and higher returns on your investment.
Social media might be a free resource to use, and therefore a hugely affordable tool for SMEs, but the principles behind using it must be the same as with any other marketing platform. Understanding your audience, setting measurable goals and ensuring brand consistency are vitally important.
Further Reading / Source
The Social Media Spend-Impact Disconnect The CMO Survey