Social media marketing is a tool many entrepreneurs just cannot ignore. However, the cost and time needed can be difficult for marketers with relatively small marketing resources. The average cost of an ad on Facebook has increased by a whopping 123 percent in just one year. Facebook justified the increase by saying it is providing even more value. According to its Chief Financial Officer in a review of the company’s earnings, Facebook is “making…ad units better and better, more relevant and targeted for the people who use Facebook, as well as marketers.” Maybe, but the competition for ad space has intensified, and Facebook sells space to the highest bidder. A year ago some 1 million companies (of all sizes) advertised on Facebook. Today, that figure is closer to 1.5 million.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the issues small businesses face in the social media marketing arena, and what some business owners are doing to address them.
Many business owners believe they lack the money to place enough ads with sufficient frequency on Facebook to reach their target audience and generate inquiries and sales. To do so, Facebook advertisers must be prepared to use the targeting and measuring options available to them, which include built-in menu options that allow marketers to target users based on their age, location and gender. Set goals and use tools like Google Analyticsto measure your return of investment. Don’t be discouraged if you pick up some interest from people outside your location or those marginally likely to become customers. By answering these requests for information, you will provide a flow of information for those readers who are real prospects and position your company as an expert. Additionally, before investing in ad space, some savvy entrepreneurs test ad concepts on their own websites, Facebook pages and blogs to see which generate the most likes or responses.
Choosing the right media mix
Marketing is more than paid advertising. Making use of all relevant social media connections is important, including websites, tweets, blogs, your company Facebook page or Linked In profile. Whatever medium you use, to engage customers you should provide content that is genuinely interesting to your target audience(s) – which means no hard sell.
Making and Building Relationships
Social media marketing is no different from any other type of marketing. Once you have acquired customers or potential customers (fans or followers in social media parlance), keep the connection going. Use content that addresses their information needs rather than your sales goals. Ideally, your marketing pro – with input from other employees – should develop a monthly game plan identifying issues and topics for the next month or so. Develop some preliminary copy – enough for your corporate blog, Facebook posts (one or two a day) and a couple of tweets per day. Be consistent in both the quality of your postings and their frequency. Of course, you might want to pick certain days (e.g. weekends) for the majority of your output, if this means you will reach more customers on specific days.
Good Communication is Two-Way
Include questions in your postings and tweets to encourage a two-way flow of information. It’s a good idea to respond to all customer questions or comments – even the negative ones. If it’s a challenge to monitor online mentions, remember there are social media monitoring services that can give you a real-time alert when your company name is mentioned. It is well worth spending a few minutes every day reviewing online responses – thanking those who were complimentary and responding thoughtfully to those who weren’t.