Direct Marketing Article
The 7 Key Steps for Leveraging Social Media
Marketing to Drive Real Results
By Natalie Henley
Investing in marketing campaigns can be a nerve-wracking decision for many
small and medium sized businesses. CEOs and Marketing Directors know that
when you have limited resources, you must be strategic with your budget, and
every marketing investment has to pay off. This is why social media
campaigns tend to be the first thing cut. Although free to setup, they take
valuable staff resources to manage, and the ROI is not as apparent. While
launching a social media campaign likely won't bring leads and sales pouring
in your door tomorrow, when you implement a few social media success
strategies, you'll find it much easier to drive a positive ROI with social
that benefits your organization for years to come.
1. Reframe your outlook.
Many businesses fail at social media because they think it means Facebook or
Twitter. Social media is actually much more than that. Rather than putting
labels on social media, think of it as a concept. Social media is actually
about engaging with your audience in a broader way. Traditional media has
always been one directional-you place an ad, the customer calls, and you
have an offline private conversation. Social media is the first time where
businesses can interact with their community in a public online forum. That
openness and transparency is scary to many business owners, but it's exactly
what customers crave.
2. Start small.
As you delve into social media, begin with the platforms that can make the
biggest difference for you. Usually, this means starting with the three main
platforms that can drive results and interaction: Facebook, LinkedIn, and
YouTube. Depending on your business model, there may be others; however, if
you are just getting started, this is a great set to begin with.
• Facebook: Facebook has a high adoption rate and people of all ages spend
time on this social media platform, thus giving you great exposure.
• LinkedIn: While LinkedIn is not consumer-focused like Facebook, it can
help with B2B sales, vendor connections, recruiting, and other business
• YouTube: Although a bigger investment than the others, consumers resonate
with different types of content, and YouTube videos tend to pay off in the
3. Don't be boring.
Guess what … your brand, services, mission statement, and corporate values
are boring. Although they may represent you as a company, they don't
represent the human element and personality of your team. Social media is
about not only building a community, but also engaging your customers. Doing
that requires that you show some serious personality.
For example, if you're located in a city that has an NFL football team, you
can support the local team as part of your company's personality. Or, if
you're a family-oriented company, you can post updates about your "Take Your
Kids to Work Day" and include photos of the event. In essence, it's about
strategically deciding what your company's culture or persona will be and
then posting interesting content that relates to that. This means getting
outside your comfort zone and talking about things that interest you as a
company, not about your industry, products, and services.
4. Don't over-invest.
As you delve into social media, don't rush out and hire a full-time person
to manage it. Instead, start by looking around your company and finding
someone (or a team of people) interested in the additional responsibility.
Chances are you have someone personally involved in social media who would
love to have this as part of their job description. As your social media
presence grows and becomes successful, you can see the business case for
growing the department.
5. Look beyond the "likes."
Judging a social media campaign solely by the size of your Facebook likes is
a bit backwards. Although "likes" can be a good indicator of success, a new
Facebook like won't feed your sales team's families. In order to measure a
successful social campaign, here are a few of the major metrics that social
media can influence, and that you can measure:
A. Reach, Likes, and Shares – This soft metrics of social lets you know you
are keeping your audience engaged.
B. Social Referral Traffic and Goal Completions (Measured through Google
Analytics) – You can figure out who is coming from social media and either
buying something or filling in a lead form on your website (cha-ching!).
C. Social Media Leads – Yes, you can drive business leads from prospects
straight on social media.
D. Increased Search Engine Rankings & New Inbound links – Having a presence
on social media can have a huge effect on any other organic or SEO programs
you are running. Social media can be a key component of driving search
engine traffic to your website.
E. Increases in Branded Traffic (Measured by Google Analytics) – If you are
keeping your audience engaged and getting prospects "warmed up" on social,
you should see an increase of consumers searching for your brand in search
6. Measure your results based on goals.
Now that you know that results are more than just "likes," decide how you
are going to measure results before you start any social media activity, as
well as the specific metrics you'll use to determine success. Social media
is just like any other marketing initiative, which means you have to answer
some key questions, such as "Why are we doing this?" and "What are we hoping
to get from it?"
Each business will have its own definition of social media success. For one
business, a metric like sales or leads is vital. Other businesses focus more
on market share. Decide before you start what's important to you. For a free
measurement tool, use Google Analytics. For standardized reports, consider
using an out-of-the box report suite, such as Sprout Social or Raven Tools.
7. Commit to it.
Too often, a small- or medium-sized business sets up a Facebook page, goes
gung-ho with it for a few weeks, and then gets busy and forgets about it.
That sends a negative message about the business. To avoid this scenario,
start small with activity you can handle and stick with it. Post something
daily, or at the very least weekly so your company can stay relevant.
Additionally, make sure what you're doing looks professional by getting
custom banners to match your website. If you are pinching pennies and don't
have a designer in-house for custom designs, you can get something that
looks reasonable on sites like Fiverr, or something that looks very
professional on sites like 99 Designs. Both are better than just "winging
Social media can be one of the best investments your company makes. The key
is to be smart about it and to treat it like any other business activity. So
if you've attempted social media in the past but let it go by the wayside,
or if you haven't embarked on this journey yet, now is the time to take the
plunge and get on the social media platforms. By following these strategies,
you'll find social media to be a rewarding, enjoyable and profitable
About the Author:
Natalie Henley is the Vice President of Client Services at Volume 9 Inc.
Volume 9 creates custom search marketing campaigns for clients, including a
mix of SEO, paid search management, social media, local search marketing and
website development for over 100 clients and 200 managed websites. Natalie
and Volume 9's enterprising team leverage search marketing into real bottom
line results for their clients' businesses. They were recently honored by
both the Inc. 5,000 and the Denver Business Journal as one of the fastest
growing companies in Denver, and in the US. For more information, please