Time to Step Up Your Social Media Marketing?

"Your business needs to be on social..."How many times have you heard that in the last few years? Social media isn't any one single thing or platform. It works in different ways for different people, businesses, and organizations. In the current climate, many owners and marketing managers turn to social networks, hoping they will be a promotional weapon to wield with little cost or investment. Unfortunately for those people, social media and direct selling rarely play well together. social media growthTake the Next Step in Social

The first step of this kind of thinking makes sense. Social networks are a direct connection to potential customers and can be highly targeted by location, age, interests, and all kinds of other audience segmentation. What every business must remember, however, is that this new form of media is based on engagement, not consumption.  Sure, we sometimes want to read content and watch (brief) videos on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but that doesn't mean that seeing advertising throughout our social feeds is acceptable. In fact, most of the social networks want to clearly distinguish between paid ads and organic content. For that reason, they tend to penalize profiles and pages that focus on selling, rather than sharing entertaining or informative content. Every trend points towards businesses succeeding when they focus on engaging their audience and creating a sense of online community. Those who simply want to use social to sell are quickly becoming ghost towns, frustrating owners and, in some cases, causing them to rethink their presence on social media entirely. audience raised hands communityA Tool, Not a Tactic

To move your organization's use of social media beyond the limited returns you'll see from "set and forget" posts, it's important to make the distinction between tools and tactics. Your social media marketing is only as good as your core marketing message. If the latter isn't compelling, no amount of social networking will make it any more appealing.  Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and all of their peers are only tools, not marketing tactics in their own right. As effective as a memorable Facebook campaign can be, it's so much harder to make it a success if the message doesn't align with your wider marketing. [search-tag] To build a brand, most marketing revolves around the narrative of your business and the events that affect it. Your job is to create a story that is larger-than-life -- one that expands all the appealing elements of who you are and what you do. You'll use that as the context for everything that comes next and social media will play a major role in helping you share that story and connect with customers in a meaningful way. Moreover, social networks provide a place for your customer to share a common interest, voice an opinion, show enthusiasm for a cause, or even share their hopes and dreams with others. The most effective campaigns are typically built around a narrative, into which all marketing channels must flow. Social media can contribute more than most, because the marginal cost of adding in extra content is significantly lower than traditional channels. The bottom line is that social media can't become yet another line on your marketing to-do list, ready to check off the minute you set up a Facebook page or Instagram profile. Treat your social networks as unique spaces to entertain and engage potential customers. You'll quickly see that the increased attention you receive is far more effective at generating leads than the sales-heavy social schtick that less informed businesses are putting out there. Related: 6 Ways to Blend Your Marketing and Boost Sales

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