Compared to traditional advertising, social marketing lets businesses reach their target audience with greater precision at lower cost. The barriers to entry are so low that the number of social channels and tactics available to small businesses can be dizzying.
With a growing number of available social marketing tools, it can be easy to get distracted from the task at hand: helping your business grow through customer acquisitions and market insights.
Here are some tips to stay on task and make the most of your social media budget:
1. Think of every campaign as an opportunity to gain insights about who your customers are (and aren't). You need to generate sales. Along the way, you can learn a lot about your market. If you're spending money and not seeing a return in terms of customer demographic insights, you're probably missing out.
Social marketing can be targeted precisely, measured and tracked. For example, Facebook Advertising offers a number of ways to segment and target users. Running multiple campaigns targeted to different audiences can help you validate your assumptions about your target segments.
2. Content is still king. Social marketing has forced brands to think creatively about content in order to engage their consumers. The trend towards content marketing—that is, sharing relevant and non-commercial content with your followers in an effort to build a loyal following—has upped the ante for the average business trying to establish an attractive social presence. The need to "feed your feed" with content can be overwhelming, and the cost of hiring a social media marketer can be prohibitive.
To make your budget go further, Toronto-based startup Blurbi enables companies to find and curate content for their feeds using freelance social marketers at the cost of a dollar per post. Combined with a link-shortening and call-to-action tool like Snip.ly, a content-first approach can provide entertainment to your followers and drive traffic to your website.
3. Join forces with a complementary brand. Marketing partnerships are powerful. By joining forces with another business that is selling different products to similar customers, you can extend your reach at lower cost. This might mean swapping in-store advertising or cross-promoting each other's business online.
Partnershop is a Toronto-based startup that facilitates marketing alliances over social media. According to Partnershop's CEO, Jason Silver, "businesses that work together to cross-promote each other through social media reach an average of 26 times more new customers per post than they otherwise would by posting on their own."
4. Leverage your influential followers. Followers acquired through Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere can become brand advocates. Take some time to research who among your followers has the credibility and reach to earn you more potential customers, and surprise them with a random act of kindness.
If you don't have an extensive list of followers, that's ok – there might be a way to capitalize on someone else's. Toronto startup #paid helps businesses find and collaborate with social media celebrities who have influence over a given product niche. Product endorsements from influencers help you gain followers and sales.
Brendan Dellandrea is the director of marketing and communications at the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University. The DMZ is the top-ranked university incubator in Canada and fifth in the world; it helps startups succeed by connecting them with customers, advisors, influencers and other entrepreneurs.
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