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Social Media & Content Marketing – Client Expectation, Market Reality & Seriously Hard Work

“Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.”
Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

 

It is abundantly clear by now that a social media presence for any business is an absolute must.

Industry figures now tell us that there are a staggering number of users across all social media platforms and what businesses should realise and embrace [and quickly, if they’re not already], is that these users are in fact customers, both present and future and we must engage with them in order to build and grow a business for the future.

Here are some of those staggering statistics:

At the end of 2013, Facebook had 1.1bn users worldwide
Google+ is growing at a rate of 925,000 users per day
On Twitter – 5,700 tweets happen every second
Viewers take in over 2.7m YouTube videos in just 60 seconds

It’s not all about ‘the big four’ either, there are many hundreds of social platforms out there through which our customers, and potential customers are sharing, commenting and talking about not only their lives, but brands as well.

Client Expectation

So with such a big potential audience out there, it’s easy for a brand to be seen and heard. I mean we can quickly pop up a video online about us and shazaam! We can just sit back and wait for the phone to ring, right?

Wrong.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions small businesses and brands have about the social world.  While social media is one of the (if not the) most cost effective mediums for marketing your business it is not the magic potion for revitalising sales.  In fact, unless you have an online shop, social media should never be considered as a sales medium.

Let’s take it back a step.

Consider this.

Reality

Here are some facts about just one part of my online ‘social life’

Through my personal Facebook profile, I like 162 other Facebook pages – these include restaurant brands, clothing brands and pages I think are funny or informative (as you would expect) amongst others – there are some big brands in there such as Innocent Drinks, KitKat, Marmite (LOVE IT!!).

I also work full time (take what I do for a living in social media, out of the equation), therefore I have breakfast time, lunchtime and the evening to take a look at my Facebook newsfeed.

I have a very modest 100+ friends (I like to know the people I’m friends with…).

Facebook determines the content I see in my newsfeed in order of relevance or most recent (they let me choose that bit!)

My top 10 newsfeed snapshot, sorted by “Top Stories” consists of two friend posts, a suggested post, a post with some cats and six Buzzfeed posts. Who’s shouting loudest for my attention?

I know that Innocent Drinks post daily, yet I actually can’t recall seeing anything from them certainly in the last week so it just goes to prove that because I am dipping in and out of my newsfeed, I am missing content.

Turn this round to a business perspective and you can easily see that a single post at any given time in one day could quite easily be lost or missed in the many thousands of other messages received over the same period.  As a social media managers, this presents us with an exercise in expectation management since one of the first questions we are asked is “How long will it take?”. “How much will it cost?” comes a close second!

Time for results

In order to ensure that you truly get the best from each of your social media campaigns the following must be true:

Social media is only a part of the marketing process for any business, brand or product.  It should never be seen as a stand-alone sales effort. Whilst a ‘Buy It Now’ approach may provide limited results – it surely will not be as effective as a campaign that has adopted all the steps of marketing.  I have already demonstrated above that I may or may not see that single post.

When embarking on a true social media campaign it is imperative that each campaign is deployed using a full and considered content and social media marketing plan. “So, come on” I hear you say “you still haven’t answered the question! How long should it take before my social media programme starts to show results?”

In reality, on average results will start to show in about six months’ time.  Potentially before IF you are using best practices.

This statement does come with some hefty caveats though.

First, you must have a solid social media [and marketing] strategy. That means spending time (and money occasionally) to engage in a social media marketing planning process.

Secondly, you have to invest in great content. Spending the time to investigate and share content from reputable sources and more importantly will fit with your business goals and audience desires, building an experience around your products and services.

The voice behind the brand matters. A brand could deploy the exact same strategy and set of tactics using two different people and have dramatically different results.

Perhaps the biggest is that there is no single answer, no ‘one size fits all’.

Of course brands will have success in different measures.  For example, established brands can (and should) expect a faster growth. Consumer brands are easier to be social with than B2B and even within the B2B market, lifestyle, entertainment and food & beverage brands will experience greater engagement still.

One thing is for certain, once you have started to embark on your social media and content marketing, one of the biggest mistakes to make is to withdraw social activity if it is not successful after just a few months.

As with all marketing it’s a long term investment to be reviewed monitored and adjusted as needed but never stopped. If you haven’t already embarked on social media and content marketing, it is a must if you don’t want your business to go backwards by standing still.

 

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