Most social media tools are free, so how do you budget for social media marketing? The cost of doing social is more closely measured in the time it takes to generate awareness, prepare your content, engage with your audience, monitor what others are saying about your brand and learn new tools and techniques as they emerge.
Connecting with your customers on their network of choice is half the battle. While every company needs to maintain a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the “Big 4” may not be where your customers live. Look for niche networks, like ResearchGate for scientists, that target your specific customer demographics, and review your social analytics to confirm that your existing followers are your real customers – not just one-time visitors who have no long-term interest in your company.
Content Is King
Make sure that your customers can find you on the most common social networks, but drive traffic to 2-3 networks where you will spend the majority of your marketing efforts. Develop unique and engaging campaigns for your choice social networks, and repurpose content to maintain your presence on other networks.
What Is a Follower Worth?
Targeting the audience that will result in the most engaged network takes strategy, and growing highly-targeted networks often involves researching and finding individuals one at a time. Know your goals and determine an engagement, and ultimately sales, funnel for your social campaigns. What percentage of your followers engage with your brand? What percentage of your followers respond to your social calls-to-action? What is your conversion rate for each of your social platforms? Do your "brand evangelists" have anything in common? You can use this information to better engage your existing followers, and to determine targets for future growth.
Monitoring the Conversation
Many companies hesitate to join in the social conversation because they don't want to give their customers an open forum for complaints. Even if you are not active on a social network, that does not mean your customers are not talking about your brand – positively or negatively. Regular social monitoring (at least daily) keeps you in-the-know and empowers you to respond immediately to customer concerns. And when your customers say something nice about your company, share it, comment and build brand loyalty.
There are a variety of ways to leverage technology across each aspect of your social interactions. Dashboards available through social networks help you analyze your traffic, reach and engagement. Monitoring tools, such as Google Alerts, can keep you up to date on news accross the web, social and otherwise. Tools such as Ed.it2 allow you to post and track the success of your content, comparing social to overall website traffic. Finding the right tools for your company will increase your efficiency in daily social activities.
As your social networks grow, so will the amount of time it takes to interact with your audience. Plan ahead and be prepared to grow with your social networks.