What’s Up in Social Media with D.: What’s the Value of Social Marketing?

social-media-with-dQ: What’s the point of social media marketing? I spend enough already on magazine and newspaper ads.

A: Great question. The answer, as always, lies in what results you’re hoping to achieve with your marketing. Social marketing is very different from traditional marketing. It reaches a different audience and is focused on different outcomes. Sometimes the value of those outcomes can be baffling. I maintain that one shouldn’t rely wholly on a social campaign, but should incorporate it into a complete marketing scheme.

Your first stop should almost always be a well-designed website. I’ve written before about the importance of a thoughtfully-created, responsive website. Your website is the main portal for how your customers or clients will find you online and learn the details of what your business or organization offers. It’s truly not a good idea to depend entirely on a Facebook Page or Twitter account to communicate what you do to the world. Instead, think of social campaigns as companions to your website. They help drive traffic to your website, can help improve your web search results, and generate interest in your organization.

Once you’ve got a website you’re proud of, consider who you’re trying to reach with your marketing and determine the best tools to do that. Sometimes the answer is indeed print media. If you’re looking to reach the demographic of people who read the local newspaper, then you’re going to see more return from your investments in print ads. But social marketing adds dimension and personality to those initiatives. It works very well when combined with other strategies.

Social marketing is created around the basic concept that you are creating a relationship with your customers. Social marketing is, after all, social. Posts are designed to engage conversation. You want to be provocative and get people talking about you. Repetitive posts that simply say what you do aren’t going to be successful. Social campaigns are more creative than that – you’re talking with your fans, establishing your reputation, exciting your followers, demonstrating your expertise, and exposing the culture of your organization. You’re adding a human element to your marketing. If you can’t do all that, you’re not going to see much response from a social campaign.

Which social tools you choose are based on which demographics you’re hoping to reach with your marketing. Everyone’s first thought is Facebook, but occasionally Facebook won’t show you the most return. It’s high-maintenance and difficult to massage the program to make sure your posts are seen by enough people. Sometimes a YouTube account or LinkedIn page makes more sense. It comes down to which kinds of people you’re hoping to engage – but the emphasis remains on getting people talking. If you’d like advice about which tools will work best for you, give us a call.

Having customers talk about you is crucial for contemporary marketing. As I’ve said before, clients don’t often turn to the phone book to find goods and services anymore. They do web searches. They ask their friends on social media for recommendations. Inserting yourself in that conversation is invaluable.