Despite some early scepticism most marketers now agree it’s possible to increase revenue and drive sales from social media. Brands both big and small have shown that social media can be a key tool in acquiring new customers and engaging current ones, but achieving social media success is still one of the biggest challenges facing business owners and marketers.
Why use social media
If you’ve looked at likes and follows and rightfully questioned their value to your business, you could be missing out on the real impact of social media. You might be surprised to know that 75% of customers say they use social media as part of their buying process and 49% share content they like at least once weekly.
When done correctly, social media can provide tangible and potentially substantial influence on revenue. Social media can be used to find potential customers, engage and therefore retain existing ones, and push new products and promotions. There are over 2 billion social network users worldwide and 35 million in the UK alone, with 22% of online time spent on social networks. That’s a big audience with a lot of potential customers.
As well as increasing revenue, there’s also a wealth of information to be gained to help your business grow. Social channels provide an insight into competitor activities and your customers’ lives. From their everyday concerns and interests to their sentiment towards your products and your brand, social media insights can be used to tailor your future business activities to fit your market. Creating campaigns, promotions and products that meet your customers’ needs is essential to future growth.
The challenge of social media
Social media is the ideal platform for communicating with customers, whether that’s sharing or listening, making it the ultimate engagement tool. Engaged customers become loyal customers and valuable to your business. Customers who are engaged with your brand tend to spend more and spend frequently. J.Crew Group reported that customers who engaged with their brand on social media were likely to spend up to twice as much as non-socially engaged consumers.
However, this can only happen if your customers are engaged. Simply shouting about your products and your promotions won’t win you any fans, and anything you have to say will quickly fall on deaf ears. Building your audience and making them stay requires creative, unique and interesting content. This content also needs to be frequent and consistent; the level of time and involvement alone can be a challenge.
Top social media tips
Define your social channels
Every social channel offers a different style, tone and demographics that should guide your use of each. You may also find that not every channel is a good fit for your brand, such as LinkedIn which is more suitable for B2B businesses. Creating a presence on unsuitable networks won’t do anything for your revenue and will just take up more time, so think carefully when selecting your channels.
Once you have selected your social channels it’s time to outline your strategy for each. This should include a mission statement or general idea of how you want to use each one, whether it’s to build brand image or share information and expertise. You can even assign customer profiles to each of your channels, so you know exactly who you’re targeting on each. This should then guide the type and tone of your content for each channel, creating a unique experience on each.
For example, clothes retailer Urban Outfitters use Instagram to build brand image, including lifestyle shots of their clothing and other relevant images that reflect the brand culture. Alternatively, Twitter is used to share company information, promotions and customer service. The most successful brands on social media leverage the benefits of each channel and launch different content on each.
Providing a unique experience on each channel increases the chances of your customers engaging with at least one, making them more receptive to your messages. Customers can follow you on the channel that provides only the information they’re interested in, rather than becoming bored of content that doesn’t appeal.
Use varied content
Make sure to vary your content, including mixed media and sources. Using different media formats, such as photos and video, will help to keep all your content interesting. You should also test various media types with different messages and examine the effects on your customers. Generally, images are more eye-catching and make marketing messages more memorable, but this might not be the case for your followers.
When it comes to a content split, many cite the 80/20 rule as a good guide for how much third party content you should share compared with promotional or brand content.
Don’t forget to include your own customers as a third-party source. User generated content has become the gold standard for a successful social media strategy. Encouraging users to share photos or information about your product like GoPro does is a great way to spread the word and build hype organically. You don’t have to use pushy promotional tactics, plus you get even more free content to supplement your own.
As well as helping to establish yourself as a credible brand, using relevant third party sources and assigning credit is a great way of being heard by followers outside of your immediate circle; helping you to reach even more potential customers.
Become the expert
Sharing your knowledge with your customers leads to social media success on several fronts. First and foremost, your customers get to benefit from your expertise. You’ll find they come back again and again, and even expertise can be a powerful freebie. Not only will these customers start to see your brand as reliable and trustworthy, returning customers are also more likely to see your other promotional messages.
The best content will be the content that creates a win-win for you and your customers. You can do this by combining your desire to reach revenue with the thing that motivates your customers. InfusionSoft provide a wealth of resources and information to their customers to help grow their business. Their clients can access relevant information, and InfusionSoft get to grow with their customers.
It’s not just your customers who might be interested in hearing what you have to share either. If you can provide professional and forward thinking expertise, you may find yourself becoming a serious influencer in your industry. This means becoming a third-party source in your own right and opens up the gates to yet more customers and business opportunities. Adidas has managed to do this with their TLKS series, sharing knowledge from high profile influencers in fashion and music, making them an industry influencer in their own right.
Engage and reward your followers
Continue to inspire and engage your followers with interactive content. This could be as simple as a short poll or more lengthy competitions spread over a period. Offering small giveaways and promotions only available to your social followers, rewards their loyalty and provides yet another reason for them to stay.
Exclusive promotions directly impact sales from social media and unique voucher codes can be used to track the success of these campaigns. Test out various promotions and experiment with the minimum spend, bundled product promotions and the tone of the message to get a better idea of what converts best. The most successful campaigns will produce valuable customers.
Opening communications with customers also means opening up to complaints, and 70% of users expect to hear back from a brand they’ve interacted with on Twitter within an hour. This makes social media a key customer service tool for your business.
The good news is, dealing with these complaints quickly and professionally can be great press for your brand. Make sure anyone using your social media accounts knows the time limit for replying to a customer complaint and does so in the right tone of voice for the brand.
Perfecting your social media customer service won’t necessarily win you any extra sales, but it will stop you losing any. Remember that all your existing and potential customers can see how you interact over social media. Bad complaints that are left unsolved are a huge deterrent to your other customers.
Link to your other revenue streams
Use campaigns and cross-channel promotions to direct your social customers to your bigger revenue channels, such as your website and your newsletter. JustFab used a wish list campaign that asked their Twitter followers to browse their website and then tweet their wish list for a chance to win it. Compared month on month, they increased website traffic by 140% and revenue by 240%.
Similarly, it’s possible to produce campaigns that encourage social customers to sign up to your newsletter. Cross-channel campaigns like this ensure that you make the most of all your revenue streams and helps drive sales from social even if it isn’t your biggest converter.
Dedicated social media
While many take the plunge into social media, few continue to meet the demands of an ongoing social media strategy. Small businesses in particular struggle to find the time or resources to dedicate to a comprehensive social media and customer engagement strategy.
Being able to drive sales from social media requires investment in both time and creativity and should be a continuous, evolving process. With many brands showing positive impact across engagement metrics and marketers expected to dedicate even more digital marketing budget in the future, it’s no longer viable to let social media efforts slip.
If you feel like you’re struggling to create and execute a successful social media strategy or simply don’t have the time to dedicate, talk to one of our team today on 01344 266844.