Whatever industry you are in, it is likely that at some point you will have been approached by a company offering social media or content marketing services to your business. You will have been told that you have to be on social media to reach your audience and that you have to write regular content to make sales. In the main, you will have been advised this without really knowing how you integrate them into your business and why they make so much of a difference.
We intend to solve that.
To begin with, it makes sense to define what we mean by these two terms:
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of Internet marketing that utilises social networking websites as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach.
Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action
These are generally considered the definitions but still aren’t necessarily clear. So let’s break them down even further and look at exactly why they are important and how you can use them day to day to make your business money.
Understanding Social Media for Business
Social media for personal use and business use couldn’t be more different. At home, you might think of Facebook as a way of sharing funny images and Twitter as a way to keep up to date with the latest news in snapshots. In professional terms, they have very different functions and should be treated almost as a completely different platform because of this.
Rather than focus on particular applications, we prefer to talk about social media in terms of being a vehicle for creating customer relationships. The way you use each channel may be different but the general goal will not be. It is about communication, sharing of information and engaging with your audience. Through a well-placed tweet or considered Facebook response, you are able to immediately and interactively reply to people, creating that direct link between you. You can even start conversations and continue them over days and weeks, nurturing your leads.
The most important thing to remember with social media lead generation is that it isn’t a one-way form of marketing. You are not advertising. Instead, you are creating the platform from which a customer can communicate with you. You should also consider the following reasons why it is worth giving social media your attention:
- Your clients will be on social media. One way or another, they will be utilising one of the many platforms available.
- Social media is incredibly low cost. Most basic applications are free, as are the apps. The only real cost is time. If you are time-poor, that is where social media agencies *cough* such as Skyline Social *cough* can step in.
- The social platforms are a great place to listen and gather information. You can learn a lot about your company by monitoring what people are saying about it, and also keep up to date with what your competitors are doing too.
- You are expected to be there. We don’t want to sound too much like the companies I mentioned in the introduction, but it’s true. Without proof that you are actively involved online, some customers assume that you are no longer active at all.
The Value of Content Marketing
Content marketing can mean many different things. Ultimately though, it is anything that sees you create valuable content that informs the reader, or connects with them in a positive way. It is the way in which you can build an ongoing relationship with a mass audience.
The channel you use for you content marketing will vary from campaign to campaign. You may share educational blog posts on your website, articles on an external forum or create an email marketing strategy that sends details directly to the inbox of your audience. Provided the content is unique and engaging, you can claim to be content marketing.
There are two important reasons to spend your time and budget specifically on content marketing.
- It both develops and maintains a customer relationship
- It helps you to get found online.
We have touched briefly already on the relationship side. Trust must be gained. If you are constantly bombarding people with offers or sales pitches, they are less likely to believe that you care about them. They will think, perhaps rightly, that the sale is the goal for you and not their loyalty, so they won’t be loyal. By creating an ongoing conversation through content, you can persuade them that the opposite is true. You aren’t selling to them, you are advising them. You value their custom and so are giving something back in terms of information. If they don’t want to buy now, no problem. You can wait because they are worth waiting for.
The second reason is to do with search engines. Google and others use something called search algorithms to establish how valuable a website is and determine where it should be ranked. Content plays a part in two ways. Firstly, Google really likes fresh content. New information that covers a breadth of information is seen as incredibly useful and is therefore rewarded. Secondly, if people regularly link to your content and return to read your posts, Google assumes you are a trustworthy source and again ranks you highly.
Hopefully our post has tackled in a little more detail the reasons why social media and content marketing are important. If you still feel that something isn’t clear though, please watch this video here. It explains how to get leads and appointments each month in more detail.