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Social Media Marketing: Why it Matters and How to Succeed in 2013

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Twitter is positioning itself as the newsroom of the future. Pinterest is becoming a key player in social shopping. Gifts and paid content are reshaping how companies advertise on Facebook. As 2012 comes to an end, social media marketing is not merely a trend. It is a key component to any successful business strategy. If your business has yet to jump on the social media bandwagon, it’s natural to wonder, “Is this all hype?” Here’s why social media matters – and what your business needs to know to succeed.

Why Social Media Matters

Social media builds relationships, generates web traffic, and improves search engine optimization. In a world of information overload, social media sharing acts as an information management filter, connecting your customers to co-workers in the next cubicle and friends halfway around the globe. Social media marketing leverages this sharing power by building relationships with potential customers. It transforms these relationships into increased web traffic, sales leads and business exposure, while reducing overall marketing costs. Social media profiles are indexed in search engines; when you or others in your network share an inbound marketing link, this increases your website’s credibility and relevance for Google. A 2012 study found that 83 percent of marketers believe that social media is important for their business. 92 percent spend six or more hours online each week maintaining their company’s presence on social media. Here’s why:
  • Increased exposure: 85 percent of marketers report increased business exposure due to social media
  • Increased marketing insights: 72 percent of marketers spending 11+ hours per week on social media marketing reported increased insights into their target marketplace
  • Increased web traffic: 69 percent of marketers report an increase in their business’s web site traffic following a social media campaign
  • Increased sales leads: 65 percent of small business owners report increased sales leads
  • Reduced marketing expenses: 47 percent report a reduction in overall marketing expenses (e.g., television, print advertising) thanks to social media

Trends for 2013

Companies of all sizes – from global conglomerates to the small business next door – can successfully utilize social media marketing. The key is to create a coherent plan with clear objectives, a strategy for reaching these objectives, metrics for measuring these objectives, and tactics for executing the plan. Unfortunately, many businesses have bypassed the strategy portion, zooming straight ahead to tactics. Simply starting a Facebook page, posting information and accumulating “likes” is not going to boost any business’s bottom line. Here’s what your business needs to know to succeed in 2013 and avoid social media pitfalls: #1: Fully integrate communication. Social media has changed the communication landscape. Marketing is now enterprise-wide; siloed communication systems and marketing departments are increasingly a thing of the past. Why this matters: Social media marketing does not happen in a bubble; all your marketing efforts should work together to create a prospect and customer database. If they are not, review your marketing strategy, identify core objectives, and create an integrated plan for achieving these objectives. #2: Manage your social reputation. Corporate social responsibility is an increasing important business imperative. Consumers vote with their wallets, supporting companies that demonstrate concern for environmental sustainability and social good. Why this matters: People identify with causes, not brands. Use social media to educate your customers about a cause. For example, if your business is working to reduce its carbon footprint, partner with are a local environmental nonprofit. Fundamentally, social media marketing is about building relationships, and cause marketing is key. #3: Understand social commerce. Social commerce is the new ecommerce frontier. According to Eventbrite, the number of purchases resulting from a person sharing details of something bought or desired on social media has doubled in the last two years. Chirpify allows for in-stream Twitter purchases; Facebook launched Gifts earlier this year. Why this matters: Social commerce is driven by recommendations and the rapid growth in digital wallets. Discounts and giveaways incentivize online sharing. Understanding social commerce – and leveraging it to drive sales – is key to increasing your business’s bottom line. This guest post was provided by Shane Burke. He is an Internet Marketing Consultant at http://www.activeinternetmarketing.com in Traverse City, Mi.      

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