The Benefits of Social Media Marketing

While most of your social media activities may not be contributing directly to your site’s search engine rankings, there are numerous benefits for companies with active social media presences. Social media marketing has several significant benefits:
  • Increases brand awareness: Strategic participation on the right platforms is a great way to join in your industry’s conversation, get your name in front of potential customers, and build relationships that impact your business.
  • Gives your brand an organic, human feel: For many businesses, communication is formal and stiff. Social media requires a different approach, and can be a channel that your brand leverages to communicate in more relaxed and approachable way. It’s a great way to humanize your brand, especially through conversations that evolve in a more organic way.
  • The ability to listen: Social media is great as a platform to share content and encourage your fans and followers to amplify it. But social media’s value can only be harnessed when you treat it as a two way conversation. Social listening allows you to monitor brand mentions and watch the most important discussions that are happening around your space.
  • Facilitates word-of-mouth marketing: A campaign that drives sharing is one of the best ways to catalyze word-of-mouth marketing in 2014.
  • Gives you a medium through which to communicate with your customers & potential customers: A major benefit of social interaction is that it gives you a low-cost, low barriers to entry method to communicate with customers and prospects. Whether you’re sharing great content or promoting a sale, your reach is vastly increased by your participation in social media.
  • Increases customer loyalty: When customers are regularly exposed to your brand and your materials, it helps position you as a leader and expert in your field. The more deeply they interact with you and see your updates, the more you build the kind of loyalty that translates into relationship and sales.
  • Builds consumer trust: Active social media accounts indicate a company that’s got a strong presence, is contactable, and is more likely to be more trustworthy than one without. This is particularly true for companies that are purely digital.

The Increasing Role of Google+

Formally, Matt Cutts has stressed that Google+ plus ones don’t impact search results. He responded to a study that suggested that there was a correlation between Google + activity and higher rankings with the following: “Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings. Let’s start with correlation != causation.” He goes on to say that the relationship is more likely do to quality content being read, liked, and shared, than with a causative factor.
But it’s fair to say that with Google’s investment in the network and its growing prominence, that Google + is the social network that’s most likely to be tapped for social participation in search engine rankings over the long term. The value of social networks as “human vetting” of content is widely accepted, and there seems to be a high probability that search engines will leverage that in the future. The easiest ways to start with Google + include:
  • Claim your page on Google Plus if you’re a business or set up an account if you’re using a personal account.
  • Customize your profile with branded images, information about your business, and relevant contact details.
  • Connect with your contacts by adding them to your Google Plus circles.
  • Create a strategy for regularly updating your profile with interesting original content and curated material.
For an in-depth guide on how to gain traction with a Google + account, see The Beginner’s Guide to Google Plus.

Choosing the Right Social Platform for Your Business

An important aspect of social media marketing is investing your time in the right networks. With a wide range of networks from mainstream networks like Facebook and Twitter to visual platforms like Pinterest and niche sites for specific industries, it’s impossible to have a good presence on every network. Nor is it advisable. The best social media marketing strategy will be different for each business. In fact, the choice of networks for your business should focus on a handful of factors:
  • Audience: Invest the most in the networks where your customers spend their time.
  • Format: Some formats are a natural fit for your business. If you have a highly visual communications style, Pinterest may be a great choice while blogging may be harder. Find which network leverages your strengths and allow you to tell your story with ease.
  • Engagement: If you find a strong community on a particular platform, there may be a natural synergy between your brand and the people that congregate there. The connection may be an intuitive one or a complete surprise.
Elements of a Strong Social Presence for 2014
  • Social participation is more integrated with content marketing: One of the key aspects of a successful content marketing strategy is social integration. Socially integrated content stands a better chance of being read, shared, and found. Techniques for ensuring this include sharing your content via your social networks as it is published, making it simpler for your audience to share your content online with sharing buttons, and expanding your efforts to connect your content to the broader conversation through topical tagging and content discovery.
  • Google+ sees immediate gains through Google Authorship: Google authorship is an increasingly important way to gain visibility and traction for your content. This is likely to increase participation with Google +, and reinforce the network’s long-term power position in the social world.
  • Social content diversity drives connections: Companies are being forced to move outside the written content bubble thanks to the increase in importance of networks like Pinterest, YouTube, and micro-video sites like Vine. Focusing on visual content is a great way for companies to stand out, attract links, and diversify their content assets.
Social media provides an important venue for connecting with customers and helping increase visibility to your content. We’ll now take a closer look at bringing together link-related efforts, content marketing, and social media for the purposes of building your brand.
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