social mediaIn 2004 Mark Zuckerberg, along with his college dorm roommates, launched Facebook. They had no idea where this new social platform would take them. In fact, with over 800 million people using Facebook regularly they have become one of the most popular networking websites. Social media and networking platforms are slowly but surely revolutionizing how we do business.

Just a few years ago you would normally imagine swapping business cards and contact information as the way the prominent business owners of the world would network. After all, behind every successful business or campaign is an equally successful network foundation. Business cards and letters are replaced with Tweets. Conferences and meetings are now in the form of inviting a fellow business over to the profile on your Facebook. Though this is much different from the normal customs it can be quite beneficial in the world of social media marketing. Now businesses from across the world can connect and communicate instantly.

Every business, especially those that are fairly small, knows that regardless of how amazing their product or service is if they can’t successfully market themselves they are doomed for failure. Social media networking platforms, anything from Facebook to LinkedIn, have opened up new opportunities that were once thought unimaginable. It has been proven time and time again that by taking advantage of social media business owners can increase exposure dramatically, thus improving their sales and earning more money. Luckily for smaller business they can achieve these same goals nearly within the same day.

The main benefit of marketing through social media is the fact that you can actually interact with your potential customers. Not only can you effectively gain their loyalty but also really present yourself as a business they can rely upon and trust. The capability of this type of networking allows you to contact thousands or even millions of potential customers quickly and efficiently. It also allows you to keep in contact with them which help to really build a loyal customer base. One of the best ways to take advantage of these opportunities is to have informative and engaging content regarding your products and business easily available.

The Definition of Social Media Marketing

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your social media marketing strategy will just consist of uploading information on websites and hoping for the best. If you really want to be successful you need to really engage yourself with your potential customer base. After all, why should your customers participate with you if you don’t engage them? The successful businesses who implement the strategies outlined in this article constantly interact with their customers through dialogue. The foundation of a successfully social media marketing plan is to engage your customers and interact with them regularly.

Social media optimization, or SMO, is beneficial to businesses and organizations because it facilitates interaction with customers and aids in determining what the do and don’t like. Another benefit is the ability to size up your competition’s weaknesses and strengths. SMO allows for an easy way to build a loyal customer foundation while staying alert with your businesses reputation. The best way to connect with your targeted markets and build a reputation is through providing compelling content that will encourage consumers to share your information with others.

Five Major Advantages of Marketing through Social Media

1. Ranking on Search Engines Improved

We all know the immense benefits of being able to rank highly in search engines. Unfortunately, no matter how spectacular your website is if you don’t have traffic you simply won’t succeed in your endeavors. When it comes down to the basic the numbers of visitors to your site is extremely dependent upon them being able to easily find your website. Search engine ranking plays an important part in social media marketing because you can use social networking platforms to backlink traffic directly to your website. The more backlinks you have to your website the greater number of traffic you will receive, thus increasing sales through increased exposure.

2. More Sales through Expedited Exposure

Let’s say that you own a fairly small business and currently have a Facebook profile that has 40K following it. Imagine how far one single message to your customers on your page could go. If every one of those people reads the message and shares it with just one single friend you’ve doubled your exposure. Luckily, they will likely share it with all of their friends. Possibly hundreds or even thousands of people have now been exposed to your marketing campaign. This is an example of one of the hugest benefits of social media marketing; the ability to reach thousands or even millions quickly and efficiently. This type of exposure is purely through word of mouth thanks to your customer base. Remember, the more people you can reach and communicate with, the more products you sell. Also it is important to note here that to ensure success, it is essential to have a well designed Facebook page with lots of engaging content.

3. Savings in Cost

The wonderful thing about a social media marketing campaign is that it is fairly inexpensive, especially compared to the wonderful advantages it offers. Traditional marketing strategies involved costly paper, ink, printing facilities and a whole lot of time. When you campaign through social media you are saving yourself the hassle and cost of all of that. You can create a Facebook account for free and begin marketing on Day 1. For those who aren’t especially computer-savvy you can still take full advantage of this form of marketing because it doesn’t require any real technical experience. Facebook, along with a few other websites, are completely free to use and you can even have the option of buying ads and even “friends” down the line. As long as you continue reaching out to people and posting compelling content you can have dramatic results without costly time and effort.

4. Connect with Core Supporters

Having a strong foundation of core supporters is key in the success of a small business. Loyal customers are extremely important as they will likely continue to purchase from you time and time again. This type of dedication will put your business above other quickly thanks to your customer’s commitment. One of the easiest ways to begin forming these connections is through communicating and interacting with them regularly. You can do this through writing a regular blog or even just updating your Facebook and Twitter often.

The beauty of social media marketing is that you can interact daily with your customers and build relationships through updating your page, posting comments and other forms of helpful, interesting content. The reason potential customers enjoy this form of interaction is because social media is very personal. There is no salesman spewing information, but simply friendly information that they can process on their own. The more a business interacts with its customer base the more dedicated these customers become.

5. Develop Partnerships with New Businesses

The majority of the benefits that have been outlined involve how you can benefit from your customers through certain techniques. What about other businesses? Connecting and networking with other businesses is extremely important and well worth the time and investment it takes. By doing this you can expose your own business to other similar businesses and increase exposure.

The two most important aspects of creating a social media campaign is first, know who your audience is and target them, and secondly, communicate with them regularly. Social media is a very personal way to interact with customers so use this to your advantage. Offer them real conversations and stay away from automated, impersonal responses. Always offer useful information. The backbone of a successful marketing campaign is your success in driving traffic to other media sources and to purchase from your business.

Don’t expect on running a successful campaign without putting in time and patience. Though social media marketing is extremely simple it does take time to really begin seeing the fruits of your labor. Even if your campaign somehow fails you will leave with the knowledge of what your customer really wants. This can make all the difference in starting a new campaign. A successful SMM campaign will help you increase traffic, thus sales, and really help you connect with your targeted consumers.

Conclusion

A well planned social media marketing plan offers small businesses a multitude of benefit including:

  • Exposure to more traffic (key in raising sales)
  • Sales will rise (the more customers visit the more sales)
  • Save money (less expensive than traditional methods)
  • Rise in the rankings (get more traffic and visibility)
  • Develop dedicated customers (gains legitimacy and credibility)

About the Author:

Edmond Hong is not only a an expert in regards to small businesses and marketing, but also holds honors from Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) for Civil Engineering and Business Marketing. He also own a website where entrepreneurs could buy fans on facebook to increase their exposure and popularity online instantly. Mr. Hong has been featured in leading publications such as the New York Times and even in the Age Australia Business section. Currently he resides in a seaside suburb in Melbourne where he writes marketing books and coaches entrepreneurs in his spare time.

Do you agree or disagree?  Perhaps, we missed something?  Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!

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