Most business people today understand that social media marketing needs to be a part of their marketing strategy. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, you are being left behind!

1/3 or the world use social networks regularly. (Hubspot)

72% of adult internet users use Facebook. (Pew Research Center, 2015)

However, what many people don’t realize is social media marketing is not a quick avenue to massive website traffic and doesn’t result in an immediate return on investment (ROI).

stressed business woman

Meet Barbara. She is a business coach and has been advised that she needs social media marketing in her promotional tool belt. She has created a Facebook business page and has invited everyone she knows to like it. She spends hours reading posts, liking posts and watching videos of funny pets and people. After a few weeks, she takes stock of her efforts and finds she’s no further than she was when she started. Why isn’t social media working for her? Barbara decides to consult a social media marketing specialist. This is what she learns:

Building a following of your target audience is an ongoing process and you need a strategic plan.

This includes knowing the demographics of each potential client so they will be a good fit for your product or service. Facebook has over a billion users, however, all of them are not your ideal customer.

Target your social media efforts by identifying which social media platform your potential client prefers. The following chart provides guidance but do some research on your own to focus your efforts further.

Which SM PLatform from us dot accion dot org infographic_0

From us.accion.org

It takes time. You must be dedicated to your work as well as have a trusted strategy to follow with milestones and goals. You need to be prepared to stay committed and consistent. The time, effort and hard work will pay off in the end.

You need to establish your credibility as an expert in your niche.

Think about some of the people we see daily on the news. This may be news anchors, politicians, world leaders, businessmen, and others. Do you think they are credible? In other words, do you believe them?

Credibility means that you are believable – and you deliver the goods or services that prove it. In business, it’s about knowing how to communicate and connect most effectively and directly so that your ideal clients or customers unhesitatingly know you are the best person to help them in your niche.

In the marketing world, we frequently refer to this as reputation marketing. With the often faceless, anonymity of the internet, being known as a credible source, or guru, is one of your most important business assets. Social media is a primary tool to help you establish your reputation.

Resource: Top Tips Tuesday: Reputation Marketing

 

It takes time. People will not accept your expert status simply because you tell them to or because you have degrees and certifications. On the internet, you need to demonstrate your knowledge. You can do this by publishing high quality, informative blog posts and through your posts and comments on social media. If someone asks a question and you have the answer, post it. This builds a rapport with your audience and when they have questions, they will look to you for the answers.

You absolutely must be there – consistently.

This means you are interacting on your social media platforms every day. (Ok, I will give you time off for vacations. Even then, if it is an extended absence, let your audience know. A simple post on your profile or your business page is all you need.) When you are consistent with social media, your followers will expect and look forward to your posts.

It takes time. If you post every Monday – Friday consistently for a month, you have not established your presence enough to be missed. It will take months of posting on a schedule. Posting sporadically is a waste of time and will actually damage your creditability. Set time aside each day for social media and follow through.

Social media is not all about you.

Being an influence on social media means that your followers look up to you to provide information and solutions to issues arising in your niche. It is up to you to understand the needs of your followers and select your content wisely. By so doing, you will have piqued the interest of your followers and built a stronger network.

There are tools available to help you determine your influence. Klout is one source that is often used to check influence. Their ratings are based on the amount of “retweets” and “likes.” They claim that the more visible you are the better. However, you must consider quality as well.

It takes time. Followers on your social media network are seeking helpful information. As an expert in your niche, you need to provide them with solutions to some of the most common issues they face on a day to day basis. Be engaged by responding to comments and offering an expert opinion on every question that may be posed by a member of your network. By giving an expert opinion on every issue raised by your followers, you will be building their confidence in your expertise.

Outsourcing your social media marketing.

Are you thinking, “I don’t have the time to learn everything I should be doing and implementing a social media program!” What do you do when you are so busy, you find yourself with no time to maintain a social media presence?

Take a quick but focused look at your priorities. Why aren’t you maintaining a social media presence? Or perhaps you actually are—but it’s just not effective or consistent. If this is true, your best option might be to outsource and hire a social media manager.

Social media management companies abound online—and fit almost every budget and company size. If you are going to go with a company that specializes strictly in social media, you will want to match the size of your budget, company, and goals to the scope offered by the social media management company.

It still takes time! A social media manager will work with you to establish goals and milestones. They are very knowledgeable of best practices in social media marketing. And they will keep your social media presence consistent and focused. But don’t engage a social media manager expecting that they can put you on a rocket to social media rock star status. Through their expertise, you will certainly be driving in the fast lane and it will take less of YOUR time.

Remember our business coach, Barbara, who was frustrated and feeling like she was spinning her wheels on social media? She decided she would rather spend her time doing what she loved to do. So she outsourced her social media marketing. Three months later she is happy with the progress she is making and looks forward to attributing a sale to social media in the future.

Social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Even though most social media platforms are free, it takes one of your most coveted resources – time. If you invest your time or financial resources by outsourcing, the return on investment will be well worth the cost.