Getting social – why businesses need to ensure they have a coherent social media and digital marketing strategy

Social media has made many small businesses big players in their industry, so we have some amazing advice on how to incorporate social media and promotions into the daily operations of your startup.

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Social media has had a major impact on business over recent years, and there can be no doubt that it has transitioned from a set of networks used by people on a purely personal level, to also becoming a platform for businesses to effectively engage their customers; but only when done properly.

The way audiences consume information and make purchase decisions has changed drastically. The ‘path to purchase’ is no longer a linear one and will quite often involve multiple touch points (both offline and online)Even in terms of the devices people use to access product information; 67 per cent of shoppers now start their research on one device and complete the purchase on another.

Marketers therefore have to be more aware of the myriad of factors that can influence a purchase decision, from search ranking visibility to social media discussions and digital PR.  Combining strong on-site content with complementary social media and digital PR activity, means these disciplines work in conjunction with each other to both ‘pull’ and ‘push’ target audiences towards the website and associated products and services on offer.

Quality content

Strong on site content doesn’t have to be extravagant or amazing in order to appeal, but it does have to be useful, engaging and entertaining for target audiences.  Examples include ‘how to’ guides, highly interactive visual content such as infographics, ebooks, podcasts and case studies.  Strong enough on-site content will gain external off-site links from those sharing it, (not to mention social signals), and this off-site activity is still the primary way of improving search rankings.  As any business owner knows, you can have the best proposition in the world, but if people aren’t able to find you online, you might as well not be there.

Where does your audience live online?

Although Google hasn’t officially confirmed that social media interactions directly influence your search position, the correlation between social media signals and improved ranking is clear, so social shouldn’t be ignored as part of the marketing mix, not least of all because it is where target audiences ‘hang out’. 

Having a clear understanding of where potential customers socialise, share and like content online is crucial to any successful social media strategy, and today’s search and content marketing strategies  require genuine social engagement to develop brand advocacy and content sharing, which then translates into earning credible links. 

Businesses commonly make the mistake of creating a presence across all social media platforms, rather than understanding which of those their target audiences actually use, so the first step - after reviewing how a social media strategy will meet the business’s core objectives - is establishing where to have a presence, and then how those audiences use social media.

By understanding which content they share and engage with, and then developing a tone of voice for the social media presence, a brand can both pique the interests of target audiences and convey its own personality, creating real brand ambassadors from followers.

It is also vital that social media isn’t considered the poor relation of wider marketing activity, in fact quite the opposite.  Social media is often now the face of your business – acting as customer services, marketing, public relations and even recruitment all rolled into one ‘channel’. It’s crucial that appropriate resource is dedicated to planning, executing, managing and measuring social media activity, as it may be the primary way your customers choose to engage your business in today’s economy.

Looking forward

So what does the future hold for digital marketing and social media and why is so vital to be up to speed? Advances in programmatic marketing platforms now enable marketers to deliver highly tailored campaigns to audiences based on data surrounding their interests and online behaviour (which can be tracked across multiple touch points). This data-led technology is increasingly being used across to engage individuals with personalised marketing messages using new content-based advertising formats such as Facebook ads and Sponsored Tweets. .

As technology is enabling even more sophisticated tools such as social wallets and programmatic advertising come into play, there is no doubt that so called ‘traditional’ marketing techniques such as direct marketing and print advertising will struggle to compete when it comes to proving effectiveness and measuring ROI..

Being online, visible, personalised and interacting with the people who will ultimately drive the success of your business is crucial, and will only become even more so as time goes on.


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