Leadership

Connecting Social Media and Business Strategy

January 9, 2019
Social media is a central feature of the online experience. It’s the space where people go to meet up with peers, share experiences, and discover information relevant to their lives.
 
Why You Can’t Ignore Social Media
 
According to Common Sense Media, today’s young people are spending almost a third of their day on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and similar social media platforms. Grown ups are hardly immune (the average adult spends two hours checking their feeds too). 
 
Social media is a dominant force in people’s lives, which means that no brand can afford to be without a strategy for harnessing its potential. The problem is that many companies have tried to market through platforms like Facebook, but failed.
 
Nevertheless, social media holds tremendous potential for advertisers and brands, especially in less direct ways. For example, these platforms contain a treasure trove of data when it comes to consumer preferences, habits, and sentiments. 
 
Never before have marketers had access to such precise and comprehensive insight into the interests, lifestyles, and purchasing decisions of potential customers. The key question, of course, is how can companies leverage this information as part of an overall business strategy?
 
Leverage These 4 Factors to Improve Your Social Media Strategy
 
Word of Mouth Sales
 
One of the most successful ways to drive business results is through peer recommendations. Here are just a few stats that highlight how important digital word of mouth is:
  • According to AdWeek, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other consumers.
     
  • A BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey found that 93% of consumers read reviews to decide if a business is good or not.
     
  • According to Invesp, word of mouth marketing drives $6 trillion of annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales.
     
  • Word of mouth marketing results 5x more sales than paid media efforts and people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.
 
The real opportunity here is to tie user-generated content and peer referral with the personalized targeting capabilities of social media. Facebook’s custom-tailored feeds are state-of-the-art in this respect and the platform provides cutting-edge tools that allow marketers to target very specific types of people. 
 
Targeting on Facebook
 
Facebook’s feeds are customized to fit the unique preferences of individual users. There are a number of ways marketers can capitalize on this feature. To begin with, ads can be specifically targeted based on a number of finely-grained demographic criteria such as age, gender, location, interests, family status, educational level, income, and employment background. 
 
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Facebook can help businesses find “look-alike” customers. Companies can start by uploading their mailing lists and/or a register of their best customers, which can be used to generate an audience of users who share similar characteristics. This can help you target your marketing efforts to consumers who are already predisposed to buying the products and services you offer. 
 
Of course, Facebook is also busy tracking the products and services their users are researching and purchasing. This allows companies like yours to target ads to Facebook users who are looking for the items you are selling too.
 
Measuring Success
 
A successful business strategy depends on metrics. This helps your business zero in on what works -- and what doesn’t (so that you can quickly make any necessary adjustments). 
 
Many of these tools are built right into the social media platforms themselves. For instance, placing a tracking code on your site enables you to understand the traffic you’re getting from each ad and the conversion rates on your own site. This way you can tie social behavior directly to a sale, either immediately or in the future. 
 
Multi-channel is increasingly important too. Businesses need to be able to measure the impact of Facebook ads on brick-and-mortar store sales as well. Coupon codes, which allow you to track back to a specific ad, is among the easiest and most effective ways of doing this. 
 
But classic A/B testing can be very productive too. For example, you can test a social media campaign in one geographic market, while holding a similar marketing effort in a different region as a control. Then you can then measure the impact across your stores and see which campaign does better.
 
Privacy
 
Consumers are increasingly concerned with privacy. Still, most social media users are willing to share their personal information online. However, merchants need to be aware that today’s consumers can be easily put off -- or even  “creeped out” -- by intrusive, non-relevant, or annoying ads. 
 
Marketers can create problems for themselves when they don’t take consumer privacy into account. Making sure your marketing is relevant, to the point, and adding value to the customer’s experience is essential to earning their trust and goodwill.   
 
Takeaway
 
Most businesses haven’t figured out how to leverage social media. But savvy companies will view this as an opportunity to distinguish themselves. 
 
If you are looking at social media as just a billboard to catch customer attention and grab eyeballs, then you are missing the point. However, if you think more deeply about the ways users are interacting with the platform, then you can begin formulating ways to create experiences that add value and increase engagement.
 
Social media platforms can help you connect with the customers most likely to buy your products and services. But businesses need to recognize that channels like Facebook are primarily about building emotional and meaningful connections. If you can build those first, then sales, referrals, and word of mouth will follow.