With Facebook steadily inching towards the one billion member mark; Twitter gloating over its 5 million members and other social networking sites trying hard to match pace with the big daddies of social networking, it can be safely said that the rise and growth of these social networking platforms have been portentous. Apart from creating the idealistic environment; albeit a virtual one for communicating with people from all over the world, these social networking sites also hold the promise of untapped business billions.
Spending for social network advertising ballooned to $2 billion in 2008 and is pegged to exceed $3.8 billion in 2011; these figures are enough to elucidate to most business owners why they need to include social network marketing in their PR strategy. If you are all set to market your business and its offerings on social networking sites, here are some important pieces of information that will prove useful along the way.
Why choose social network advertising for your business?
No information on social network marketing and its efficacy will be complete without highlighting the distinctive advantages of using the medium over traditional forms of advertising. Among the several reasons for the immense popularity of advertising on social networks are:
- Long lasting and wide reaching appeal: Not only is it possible to reach consumers from every corner of the globe through social networking but also the impact of any efforts will yield long standing results.
- Allows you to communicate with your clients: The medium offers a rare opportunity to the marketer, the business owner to communicate with his/her clients and be a part of the marketing equation.
- Traceable performance: Another extraordinary feature of advertising on social networking platforms is the ability to trace the efficacy of your marketing dollars and the precise impact of your advertisements.
- Cashes in on a primal human need: Unlike other forms of marketing media such as TV or Radio where an advertisement is often perceived as a vexing interlude, when on a social networking site, people actually want to socialize and communicate and that is precisely what you get them to do when marketing on these platforms.
Different forms of social network advertising
Contrary to popular belief, social network advertising is an umbrella term that covers a variety of marketing strategies, each designed to yield unique effects.
Direct Advertising: This is by far the most controversial form of advertising used on social networks; it entails using information about a person in your network to draw people to your advertorial message. For instance, the Facebook Beacon project which will send out a feed such as Mike just bought XYZ. So, the natural inclination would be for people in the group to check out the very item that somebody they know recently purchased. However, this form of advertising is seen as an exploitation of personal relationships and is frowned upon as it compromises privacy.
Direct paid advertising: This is a traditional form of marketing on social networking sites which involves the display of relevant banner ads; for instance, on Facebook, the advertisement is seen on the left side of the profile page while MySpace displays it as a brick on top. These advertisements are not just randomly displayed; the sites use an algorithm which helps you to effectively use demographic information on your profile page.
Indirect advertising: This approach is ideal for rapport building and creating brand awareness. An innovative technique, it involves the formation of groups and the development of informative pages that are designed with the sole purpose of offering something worthwhile to the audience. Several facets of this strategy have been used across the myriad of social networking sites in the past few years such as contests, free tool giveaways, content marketing and more. While a lot of people assume that this is a taxing approach that does not yield quick results, the fact is that the amount of rapport generated makes this an efficient marketing strategy that will serve you for years.
Community building is another powerful (and most effective in the long run) method to build brand awareness and customer base through social media. Basically, it is about building network of social media (power) users who vote for and share your content whenever you need that. Such tools and promising start-ups like WorkForFavor are aimed at scaling and organizing this process for brands.
What really form of social network marketing will work best for you?
There are seven distinctive advertising methods that can be identified when working with social networks these include:
- Corporate profiles with fans and logos
- Banner ads
- Corporate profiles without fans or logos
- Sponsored contests
- Give widget
- Get widget
It is imperative to understand that there are no generic marketing solutions in the world of social network advertising and the strategy that you employ will have to directly depend on your marketing goals. That being said, while some forms of advertising produce fantastic results when used for specific purposes others may prove more effective when used with a different goal in mind.
- For instance, while sponsored content does get people talking about your products and brand, it may not get you the expected sales and will not be suitable if you are looking for viral recommendations
- On the other hand, a corporate profile with fans can yield grand results as every user who becomes a fan is actually endorsing your brand and products.
- If your goal is customer engagement, few approaches will give you the stupendous results that you can get from widgets
- The most powerful and potent form of advertising online is to use content marketing; for instance, marketing a natural supplement on a site that offers information on healthy living.
- If encouraging purchase is the end goal of the campaign, newsletter links and banner ads will work just fine.
Tips on marketing yourself on social networking sites
Unlike other forms of advertising where it can take months or even years to see the results of your marketing initiatives, social network advertising is extremely powerful and often provides results in a matter of weeks. So, it is crucial to use the most suitable advertising strategy. So, here are a few popular techniques that can be used to market your company and its offerings online.
Brand management: For brand building, social media management can work to your advantage. This includes content marketing where you offer valuable information on your site and through your articles, diverting existing and potential clients to your page. Other techniques include maintaining a blog, using microblogging services like Twitter to let people know what’s new. All of these efforts are aimed at helping you to build a loyal fan following and augmenting the number of followers in your list.
You may need to begin by following others interested in you niche before you can get them to join your list. This approach is suitable for engaging the customers and for getting sustainable marketing results; however, it will prove futile if your sole intention is an increase in next month ROI. This technique can help you to build credibility for your business. So, the next time a person known to one of your followers wants to buy a product in your niche, you can be certain that your company will get a recommendation.
This form of social network advertising harnesses the power of word of mouth marketing. However, it calls for immense patience and persistence; fortunately, if you are not up to the task, you can always enlist the help of an expert to get it done for you.
Targeting campaigns: This marketing technique takes a significant amount of effort as you will need to find leads based on the information offered in tweets and the keywords used by them. For instance, if somebody tweets a message saying that they are looking for a landscaper Alexandria , VA. You can get in touch with them offering information about your landscaping firm. However, you need to be extremely careful with this approach as overdoing it will most certainly be seen as spamming and will destroy the credibility that you have built. The advantage of this technique is that you get immediate results which are reflected in your sales figures.
Viral content: While the concept is thrilling, few campaigns ever go viral and even when they do people talk more about the campaign than the brand pr product associated with it, so it is imperative to ensure that your company is well connected with the effort. Viral marketing entails the creation of videos, contests, novel sites and competition just to garner attention. Popular examples of the viral phenomenon include: The Viralogy Scavenger Hunt, T-Mobile Plaza Dance etc. While these campaigns can get you mammoth results, they are extremely expensive and it can be tough to find a firm to handle such a project.
Influencing campaign: You can also enlist the help of influencers such as popular bloggers, experts in your niche, tweeters and video makers to endorse your products. This again helps you to build credibility as others recommend your products and brand. In order to make this strategy work, you will need to identify the influencers in your niche and than offer something to their fans that is of value; for example, free units, first dibs etc. On the other hand, some influencer will be happy to accept cash for recommendations.
As you can see there are several ways in which you can social networking marketing to your advantage. However, to build a truly powerful campaign, you will need to understand your marketing goals and devise a strategy that can help you to meet them.