In today’s digital world, most companies recognise the value of social media. With roughly 4.2 billion active users across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it represents a vast, lucrative market. Social media can help you expand your reach, increase brand awareness, and improve customer relationships. So if you’re not making the most of your content and social media marketing, you’re missing out.
What is social media marketing and why is it so important?
In simple terms, social media marketing is the use of platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter to promote products and services, and to share content. Done properly, it can help transform your business — reinforcing brand identity, driving traffic to your website, and increasing your bottom line.
Outbound vs inbound social media marketing
Social media outbound marketing
Outbound marketing, also known as traditional or push marketing, typically involves targeting mass-audiences with general, promotional content designed to directly sell products and services. It’s usually a one-way communication that aims to grab people’s attention and steer them towards a website or landing page, sometimes using a special offer as an incentive. In short, it’s advertising. So for social media, this would include things like Facebook and Instagram adverts.
Pros and cons include:
- Can help you reach a wide audience quickly and improve brand recognition.
- Can be effective in boosting immediate results for traffic and conversions.
- Relatively low-cost, compared with other, more traditional advertising channels.
- Can be perceived as disruptive and annoying to users.
- Can generate “lower quality” leads that are less likely to convert.
- Can attract negative comments, impacting brand reputation.
Social media inbound marketing
Inbound marketing, or content marketing, is a more subtle way to advertise your skills, products, and services. It aims to attract inbound traffic by providing useful, engaging content that your target audience is looking for, driving trust, conversions, and brand loyalty. This could include sharing informational guides and blog articles, or using your social media platforms as customer service tools, providing relevant information and answering questions.
Pros and cons include:
- Targeted, sought-after content can help you attract your best prospects.
- Providing useful resources can build trust, repeat custom, and a good reputation.
- Encourages customer interaction, engagement, and a brand community.
- It can be tricky to get your content seen and shared by your target audience.
- It can take time for inbound marketing to translate to web traffic and sales.
- Non-advertorial social media content can attract negative feedback too.
Rather than pitching inbound and outbound social media marketing efforts against each other, like two competing tactics, try combining them in order to super-charge your reach and produce more relevant leads. For example, by using targeted social media adverts or promoted posts to push out content that the audiences you want to attract are actively interested in.
Use social media to positively impact customer experience and drive sales
To build an active, thriving social media presence, you need to think smart. Whether you’re creating engaging, informational social media content ideas to fuel your inbound marketing strategy, or devising an advertising campaign, posting blindly on random subjects in the hope of garnering interest is no good.
To engage potential customers and increase the visibility of your brand, it takes a strategic, targeted approach. Your content should be original, relevant, and appealing; it should be aimed at a defined audience and tailored to the specific platform you’re sharing it on. Here are a few essential tips to help you build a successful social media marketing strategy:
1. Identify your audience
The first and perhaps most important step is identifying your target audience. To engage people and get them invested in your brand, you need a clear picture of exactly who you’re selling to. Think carefully about the people you’re trying to reach and why.
For example, if your company deals in wearable tech, you might focus on 18 to 35-year-olds with an active lifestyle and a disposable income. Having a clearly-defined audience is the cornerstone of any successful social media marketing strategy. Your target audience should inform all aspects of your digital marketing strategy, from content creation to the social media platforms you use. So you need to do your homework.
2. Define your goals
Once you have your audience, you need to think about what you want to accomplish and set some realistic goals. For some business owners, this may be as simple as driving sales and increasing revenue. But to get the most out of your social media, you need to be a little more specific.
For example, your company might choose ‘community engagement’ as one of its goals. But it’s not enough to say you want to engage as many people as possible — you need to set parameters. One option might be to implement a social media customer service strategy. By utilising social media channels to address customer service issues, you’ll free up phone lines, cut response times, and give people a platform to share positive feedback about their experiences.
RingCentral offers a fully integrated customer engagement platform. It enables your customers to reach out on channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter; helps identify ambassadors and detractors; and allows you to manage all your responses in one place.
3. Choose the right social media platform
Once you’ve defined your audience and set some achievable goals, it’s time to think about which social media platforms you’re going to use. This is tricky, as there isn’t always a right or wrong answer. All social media platforms have their merits, but you need to narrow it down to a select few, so you can focus your efforts and make the most of your time and resources.
If you’ve done your research, you should have a good idea of which social media channels are popular with your target audience. For example, if your business is looking to engage with millennials, you may choose to post on Instagram, as it tends to appeal to a younger demographic.
Think about what you want to achieve from your social media marketing strategy. If your main goal is community engagement, you might choose Twitter, which allows you to establish a constant presence on social media by posting and interacting with your audience. If generating leads is at the top of your wish list, Facebook, with its nearly 1.85 billion daily users, could offer your advertising campaigns and other content a wider reach.
Whichever social media platforms you choose, remember to work smart. By using an integrated solution like RingCentral to control all your social media channels from a central point, you’ll save yourself time, money, and valuable resources.
4. Create unique and engaging content
You’ve got your target audience, defined your goals, and selected your ideal social media platforms. Now it’s time to create some content. In such a crowded marketplace, it’s important that you stand out, both when it comes to advertising and informational content. Here are a few useful tips to help you cut through the noise:
- Show don’t tell: Don’t drown prospective customers in text. Use eye-catching photos and keep your messages short, sharp, and to the point.
- Take your own photos: Original pics are far more appealing than staid stock photos. Hire a photographer, or take quality snaps from a decent smartphone / digital camera.
- Use infographics: Humans are visual creatures. Repurpose evergreen content into charts, graphs, and social media images to draw your customers’ eye.
- Create informational content: You’ll engage more customers by addressing their pain points. Showcase your expertise and build brand loyalty with helpful, practical content; whether that’s a review of the latest smartphone or a video about how to use WhatsApp Business on multiple devices.
- Share customer reviews: People want some reassurance before making a purchase. Share positive reviews and testimonials to nudge prospective clients towards that all-important sale.
Maximise your social media outbound and inbound marketing
With nearly half the world’s population communicating on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, the impact of social media on customer experience can’t be understated. If you’re not making the most of social media, you could be missing out on thousands of pounds of potential revenue.
RingCentral can offer you the tools you need to optimise your social media marketing. By integrating your social media and messaging apps on a single platform, you’ll be able to connect with customers quickly and easily across multiple channels, increasing brand awareness, improving customer relationships, and driving sales.
Originally published Feb 26, 2021, updated Jul 22, 2021