A lot of small business owners and professionals are often wondering what avenues of marketing serve them best in this digital age. Being that I have been working with Urban over the course of the past two years, I have to say I’m a brand advocate for those businesses that make their mark and stand out on social and for those who are committed to doing so. I want to make sure I am able to provide some value and insight into why so many businesses are choosing to use social media to market. In this overview, you will find out:
- Why it’s critical in today’s society to integrate social media strategy into your marketing,
- The importance of understanding your customers and how you can serve them better,
- What you can do to set yourself apart from the competition,
- And where to be active online with your business and why.
Why I’m Writing This
I’m an inbound content specialist. Or I’m learning my best way to be one; let me explain: I focus on building on digital marketing strategies and apply inbound methodology to create online content for brands. I help brands provide helpful and relevant content to customers and work to add value at every stage in the customer’s buying journey. And social media marketing happens to fall under inbound content. Not only that, I help brands and businesses find solutions or ways to engage with their customers outside of traditional marketing. Why do I do this? When you engage, consumer are 20-40% more likely to spend.
It’s easier to have a lead purchase from you after you have built some rapport or trust, you have listened to their concerns and worked to find a solution.
So Why Social Media Marketing?
Well, the answer is simple – here are three factors to consider why you should use social media in your marketing strategy:
- You’re going to be able to reach new customers. Long gone are the days of door-to-door sales and cold-calling has significantly dropped in it’s conversion rate. By using social media, you are able to connect with all types of customers. 71% of internet users are actively using social media, so it’s a no brainer to be part of this.
- It’s tremendously cost-effective. Compared to traditional avenues such as print, television, radio ads and even bus benches, you can pay a fraction of the cost to promote yourself online and even do it for free because there is an abundance of resources available online today.
- It opens the door for on-going two-way communication with you and your customers. You can connect in an instant and be part of the entire buying journey and beyond. This helps build customer retention and loyalty, as you’re able to actively listen to your customers concerns online.
Now let’s talk about the different types of social marketing.
If you’re not familiar, there are three types of social marketing that you’ll come across online.
Owned: everything you create on behalf of your brand and the platforms you have control over such as blogs, emails or websites or your social networks. This gives you control over what you create and the cost.
Paid: is everything from Display Ads, Sponsored Content, Boosted Posts, Influencer Marketing and more. It is effective to integrate some form of digital advertising when your goal is to boost awareness or grow revenue.
Earned: is some of the valuable type of social. This would be your reviews, mentions, shares. Earned typically does not cost you anything and it can provide tremendous value to your own brand through advocacy and referrals. It’s important to try to figure out a ratio that works for your business out of the three avenues above when planning your social media content. You may have even heard of the Golden Ratio which is 60% Owned, 30% Paid and 10% Earned. It’s a great benchmark to set for yourself if you’re just starting out. For example, you might share 3 of your own posts, promote 2 Facebook ads and repost 2 client testimonials in a week. The bottom line of your social media marketing should always be to create brand advocates. These are the people who love your brand and love what you do for them. They are your biggest fans and often your most loyal customers.
Why is this so important? You are more likely to retain referrals and generate new leads based on a customer’s positive experience with your brand. That means you need to make every engagement count. Whether you close the sale or not, you should always aim to leave your customer happy and helped. With social media, people are constantly looking to Reviews or Testimonials when a friend recommends a brand, which helps them decide whether or not to purchase from them. So you want to be a positive part of that conversation so you’re top of mind for the customer.
The Importance of Understanding Your Audience
Okay, so now you know why you need to be on social, what types of social there is and why you want to focus on building brand advocates. But in order to build out this content and build those relationships, you have to understand who you’re marketing to. Because you need to understand your audience in order to:
- Know where to look for and find your audience. Where do they hang out online? Where do they go for information? What are their digital habits? This is important to know because it’ll help you decide which social networks to be on for your strategy.
- You have to build a relationship with them. Social media allows a low barrier to entry for customers to have their pick from an abundance of options, so if you can understand your audience better, you’ll have an easier time connecting with them and nurturing the client relationship.
- Provide solutions. Social media is a great tool to gather insights on your audience’s needs through social listening. You can build a relationship, communicate with your customer and tailor a solution to their problem through social interactions.
One area I specialize in is market segmentation and building buyer personas. A lot of my work involves getting to understand customers’ buying behaviours and patterns. If you’re looking at the real estate industry as whole, a lot of the traditional sales training and standards have been consistent but social media and the internet reign, buying behaviour has vastly changed and the market is customer-centric. To help you better understand your audience and get clearer on who you business is trying to attract, you can ask yourself some of these questions which help marketers like myself build out personas.
What is important is to really uncover what are they dealing with. Where are they going for information? What are their habits when searching for information? Why might they object a sale? Being able to answer these questions is critical to targeting your desired target audience. And if you’re not sure where to start, go with who you know.
Your clients. You can send out an electronic survey to gather a lot of this information. I typically recommend looking through your current client base and picking out your top ten clients – the ideal customers. More often than not, they are happy provide insight and feedback if you make the ask. And always remember to provide something of value back to them for their response to nurture reciprocity. Take the Wunderman Marketing Study for example:
79% of consumers said brands have to show them they care about them before considering a sale. In inbound, there has to be an exchange of value. Think of times where you’ve come across a brand you loved online, that provided excellent customer service when you were researching their product. How did it leave you feeling? That is what brands should strive for. Take the time to learn about your customer and make every experience count.
How to Set Yourself Apart with Your Personal Brand
So you get the value of social marketing in your business, you understand your audience’s needs, now it’s time to set yourself apart. There are three factors to why you not only need to promote your brokerage, but your personal brand as well as a REALTOR®.
- You gotta start with your why. Why did you get into this business? It should be your goto answer when a client asks why should I pick you? It’s the purpose behind the process. Take mine for example: I’m committed to helping perceive what they’re capable of. And how I do that is through social storying, to help them be known.
- Second, you want to be an active thought leader in your community. Not only does this attract like-minded colleagues to collaborate with, but it’ll have your audience recognize you as a reliable resource. Thought leadership might look like contributing once a week to a business referral group or sharing your expertise on an area of interest.
- Third, finding your niche is necessary! There are over 4000 other REALTORS® in Calgary. What are you doing to stand out? You have to look at yourself and what it is that you do best and what you’re an expert in. Maybe you have some additional sales training and you have a methodology that never fails. Maybe you’re a seasoned expert and you know the market like the back of your hand.
It’s your expertise and what you can offer of value that makes you stand out. You might be wondering okay, I think I know my purpose, I can get on board with online communities to promote my ideas and I’m pretty sure I got my own niche but now what do I do with all this information?
You commit to creating content. And here’s how you can create that content. These are authentic ideas to help you figure out where you want to start when it comes promoting yourself using social media. And you can take those ideas and turn them into a variety of content at a low-to-no cost. These are just some types of content you can create or have created for you to start getting your message out there and get in front of your audience.
For anyone wondering, UGC stands for the User Generated Content – shareable content created on behalf of your audience like photos or videos of your product, service or brand experience. It is up to you and whoever is part of your marketing strategy to decide which and what content will serve you and your clients best. If you’re not feeling confident in the visual space and like to stick to traditional roots, I recommend starting with some writing.
69% of businesses are capturing leads through blogging and it’s a great way to build out your thought leadership or expertise on topics of customer interests. It gives you an opportunity to show what you know and close off with an offer most often.
Why You Need an Online Presence
Lastly, I want to address where your business needs to be online and why you need some form of online presence.
- It’s going to help customers find you. Whether you have a website yet or not, if you’re active on your social platforms for your business, you are widening the scope of your potential target market. Make sure all your information is complete in your bios so Search Engines can index you.
- Which brings me to my second point: Websites and SEO – Search Engine Optimization, still plays a part in the success of your social media marketing. Your website is like your digital brochure. Over 70% of internet searches are completed on mobile devices so if you’re chatting up prospects, they’ll likely type your name in their phone as soon as the coffee is done.
- And it streamlines your marketing. Everything is becoming automated and everything is becoming integrated. With the right coach or consultant, you can build out your e-mail lists with a reliable Client Relationship Management program to keep you on top of your game.
You should see everything coming full circle on the importance of how social plays a part in aiding in your customer relationships and contributes to your brand’s online presence. So once you’re clear in all areas, you’ll need to decide what platforms will serve you best and how.
Here are some things to look for and consider when choosing what social networks and websites to join. Know that more is not necessarily better, you want to be strategic and smart about picking what social networks to be on for your business. And all I ask is if you are to start somewhere today, it is to put the social back into social media. Start engaging. Start being part of the conversation. Listen and lean in to see how you can help. Because we are all in the business of people to people and it is all about communicating. You can download the entire presentation through the button below.