Social Media Marketing in 2017: Sink or Swim?

Our lives are increasingly intertwined with the overwhelming noise and clutter of the social media networks where so many of us spend increasing amounts of our time. The stats are staggering:

  • 93% of buying decisions are influenced by social media
  • More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush
  • 1 in 3 marriages start online (we won’t talk about the number of divorces),
  • The fastest growing demographic on Twitter, is grandparents #seniorsrock
  • Every second, 2 people join LinkedIn
  • ‘Word of mouth’ has become ‘world of mouth’

As Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics from which the above statistics for 2017 have been gleaned says:  “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media. The choice is how well we do it.” You may agree or may not agree. Often times business owners, particularly those from what would traditionally not be considered ‘sexy’ industries find it challenging to embrace social media marketing for their particular niche. You might be able to relate to some of the common objections:

Who’s going to do it? As the need to showcase your best work online and increase your business’s visibility escalates, it becomes imperative to either have someone on your team who has undergone suitable training to fulfil the social media marketing function or to outsource the role to a social media marketing agency or freelance professional.  There are a number of accredited courses and training workshops available to upskill administrative or marketing staff for the task and of course, a plethora of agencies and freelancers to choose from. Be sure to ask for references and examples of work and to look at their own social channels before making a decision.

Another common objection to using social media marketing is ‘I don’t want my competitors stealing my clients’. Let’s face it, business is about relationships. In this day and age perhaps more so than ever before, you have a number of ways to stay connected to your customers, with social media being one of the most popular because the numbers don’t lie; this is where your customers are spending their time. You can use social media to strengthen existing relationships by building a thriving online community to support your brand and outshine your competition. Bear in mind, that social media today is as the Yellow Pages was in years gone by:  if you’re not active online, in the eyes of your customer, you simply don’t exist. Your online presence can be an advantage. Your lack thereof, or mismanagement thereof, a distinct disadvantage.  Are you aware of what is being said about your business online? The conversations are taking place daily and mentions that could be pertinent to your industry are happening whether you are aware of them or not. Do you have mechanisms in place to monitor (and if necessary, intercept) these? If not, you are potentially entertaining many missed opportunities. Having a social media and online reputation management strategy in place can help to maximize these opportunities.

‘Yes Jacqui, this all sounds wonderful, but to be honest, we don’t know where to start’. You are not alone when it comes to social media marketing and knowing where or how to begin. There is a wealth of information available but often sifting through it to find what is applicable to your unique business scenario can be time-consuming and overwhelming.  Successful social media marketing does not take a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. Tailoring a strategy to suit your specific goals and objectives for using social media is much more likely to give you the results you’re looking for. Book a strategy consultation to help you develop a plan. Then you can decide how best to implement it, whether it will include training an in-house staff member for the role or outsourcing to a marketing agency or professional to execute on it for you.

Bear in mind that storytelling is a key component for success when it comes to your audience relating to the content that your business shares. You have a myriad of platforms to choose from, choose wisely. It’s best to select platforms where your customers are spending the majority of their time, rather than to spread yourself too thinly and try to be ‘everywhere’ for ‘everyone’.

Also, remember that you have an untapped resource in your team of staff. Each of them is an ideal candidate to become a brand advocate for your business and this is a golden opportunity to increase the visibility of the stories you tell.

Stories? What stories Jacqui? This sounds too much like preschool..”  Easy Tiger. Story-telling is the age-old method us humans have used to engage the part of our brain that switches us on and connects us with one another.  It’s the part of the brain that lights up when a speaker tells a funny joke and we instantly feel a sense of camaraderie towards him. It’s that same part of the brain that marketers hope to light up when they tell brand stories through clever advertisements and other forms of online content because when that happens, you are more likely to feel an affinity to the brand and much more likely to buy from them in the future.

“So what story can I tell? We don’t have much of a story Jacqui…”  Every business operation has a wealth of stories to tell and part of my work as a strategist is to help you uncover yours and plan a way to share them consistently over time to engage your online audience and turn them into fans of what it is you do and believe in.  Your story can include elements of how your business began – perhaps it’s a family-owned and managed operation with a rich history of humble beginnings that bears telling? Perhaps you can tell the story of a design journey for a specific piece of work that you’d particularly like to showcase? Showing your audience your work and letting it speak for itself is one effective means of storytelling online. Take them behind the scenes of your business; introduce them to your staff and let them find out what makes your team tick, what makes you tick, what makes your whole operation tick, in fact. Your audience wants to experience the human touch through digital tools.

If you’re brave, live video is going to be even bigger this year than it was in 2016 and statistics show it keeps viewers watching for up to three times longer than normal video.  Whatever method you choose to use to tell your stories and on whichever platforms, what’s perhaps most important to focus on, in the words of fellow marketer Park Howell:  “It’s not just about what you make but about what you make happen for your customers that’s at the heart of your story”.

Make 2017 the year that your business swims strongly in the social media marketing current. Let us show you how.