An introduction to business use of social media for marketing
Talk to a non devotee about social media and they will still tell you that it's either a tool for geeks or for students that have nothing better to do than share what they had for breakfast. Although many of us eat, sleep and breathe social media marketing, I still talk to many businesses who don't believe and aren't active in social media marketing.
But as usage of tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter continue to escalate, even laggard-like companies are belatedly starting to think about getting a slice of the action. In this post I'll show approaches you can try to convince your colleagues, clients or even friends that social media investment pays.
Here's a taster, when I’m faced with a room full of social media sceptics one of the first things I do is show this video:
[Editor's note: thanks to @CIMSolent who shared the latest version -see below - really shows the human side of social media nicely - I've included the original since the style is different]
It's full of mind blowing statistics about the power of social media. It starts to get people to question their three wise monkey’s approach to the topic. I doubt if you are reading this blog, on this website, that you are one of the sceptics, but hopefully the video clip combined with a few applied ideas about how you could use these powerful tools in your business will convince your bosses to prioritise social media alongside the more traditional marketing tools.
Dave Chaffey and I thought a good first post would be a simple introduction to business use of social media. There are still many marketers, many businesses thinking - how can this really help us? We'll be covering the topic in more depth in future weeks - but since this is my first post for Smart Insights as their social media maven (sorry Social Media “Strategist”) I thought you might like a little bit of background.
I’m a marketer. Have been since I was very small – I was the one selling fizzy drinks in the school canteen (lugging the big bottles to school and decanting them into glasses – so changing multiple aspects of the marketing mix – a lot more than just sales even then!). I trained in conventional offline marketing well before we spent half our waking lives glued to our smartphones on Facebook and email. And I’ve worked ever since with all sorts of organisations helping them think strategically about marketing and better communicate with the outside world.
In more recent years I set up a business, Musicademy, providing online and DVD based training to contemporary church based musicians. It’s a very niche market, but one that we’ve grown a significant presence in. We’re UK based but most of our customer base is in the US. Surprisingly we’ve not actually had to do that much travel to grow our business, thanks in part to technology, but in the main to use of social media. I’ll be sharing some of my learning and insights on the practical use of social media in future weeks.
Alongside normal work, I teach marketing – both traditional and digital. I’ve worked as an examiner for the Chartered Institute of Marketing and teach in a variety of settings including private companies and universities. What I’ve found is that whilst big, often FMCG type, companies have embraced digital marketing tools and techniques, many smaller businesses, particularly those working in a B2B environment have lifted their heads out of the sand long enough to produce a brochure-ware type website but have steadfastly ignored the looming force that is social media. They might have a dormant Twitter account or a Facebook page with a couple of fans and no content but other than that they’ve never really seen the point. After all, social media is for geeks and sharing what you had for breakfast. Right? I’d like to try and prove that wrong.
The emotional arguments for social media
If the YouTube clip is not convincing enough, let’s see what a number of experts have to say on the topic:
“The old ways of marketing are dead – and being safe is now too risky”
Seth Godin, writer, marketing guru amongst other things
“Social media is like a snowball rolling down the hill. It’s picking up speed. Five years from now, it’s going to be the standard.” Jeff Antaya, chief marketing officer of Plante Moran
"Social media is not a fad, but a paradigm-shifting toolset”
“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter - and getting smarter faster than most companies .” The ClueTrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual - Locke, Levine, Searls,& Weinberger
The business arguments
If your bosses are still saying that social media may be powerful but its not a priority for your business, how about an argument based on lead generation and bottom line results? Stelzner's 2011 study neatly summarises the benefits of social media. He says:
"The number-one benefit of social media marketing is standing out in an increasingly noisy world. A significant 88% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Improving traffic and subscribers was the second major benefit, with 72% reporting positive results."
In Stelzner’s study he found that more than half of marketers indicated a rise in search engine rankings was a benefit of social media marketing. As search engine rankings improve, so will business exposure, lead generation efforts and a reduction in overall marketing expenses. More than half of marketers found social media generated qualified leads. The findings are summarised below.
I’ll leave you today with one more video that questions whether social media is a fad. Future posts will start to unpack what social media is all about, and crucially, show you how you can utilise it in your business contexts.
Do share which arguments work / don't work for you!