Social media has transformed the way that people communicate and gather information online. With more than two-thirds of U.S. Internet users regularly using a social network, individuals are more often turning to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to ask questions, share resources, and research products and services. Consider the following usage statistics for popular social networking sites:
- More than 500 million active Facebook users
- More than 100 million LinkedIn users
- Nearly 200 million registered Twitter users
- 142.7 million Internet users watched online video content from Google Sites (mostly YouTube) in April 2011.
With such high adoption rates, it’s obvious to see that the cost of not participating is high — even if you can’t always calculate an exact ROI from social media activities.
Through active social media participation, your organization can connect with qualified consumers online when they are actively looking for what you offer.
Build Brand Awareness and Preference
Social media is a great tool to strengthen relationships with customers, prospects, partners, employees and job candidates — most of whom are active online. Differentiate your brand and set yourself apart from competitors by sharing industry news, trends and developments (without being overly promotional) relevant to buyer personas.
In doing so, you will establish company representatives as industry experts, and your organization as an industry leader. Similar to content marketing, social media can also help you connect with and appeal to target audiences on an emotional, reciprocal level. This makes your organization more attractive to consumers, because people prefer dealing with other people rather than faceless brands.
Improve Website Strength and Interaction
As your content moves throughout social networks, it can drive inbound links and visits to your site — two important factors in determining its strength.
Also, according to a ForeSee report, “visitors to websites influenced by social media are more loyal and satisfied customers, and they spend more than visitors who were not influenced by social media.”
Boost Search Engine Rankings
Social media must be a part of your search marketing strategy, as social metrics are included in both Google and Bing’s search algorithms. As search engines strive for more relevant results, social media provides real-time elements and enables personalization based on a searchers’ network. One example of this growing integration between search and social is Bing’s deep integration with Facebook Likes.
Another benefit of search and social is that when consumers are exposed to both, their overall click-through rate on the search engine results page increases by 94 percent. This suggests that social media can drive brand awareness, as demonstrated in subsequent search behavior.
For more information on how social media results are integrated into both Google and Bing, see Social Media’s Impact on Search.
Give Your Content Legs
On-page optimization only accounts for a small percentage of a website’s visibility in search engines; and therefore, it can only go so far in spreading your content.
It’s the combination of content and community that really propels your blog posts, eBooks, videos and other self-published resources to be shared online. For example, more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared each month on Facebook.
Give your content legs by distributing it via social networks. If your content is strategic, buyer-persona focused and informative, others will share it with their networks — exposing it to people you may not have reached otherwise.
Connect with Media and Bloggers
Social media offers another outlet for your organization to forge relationships with key media, bloggers and analysts. According to the 2010 PRWeek/ PR Newswire Media Survey, 43 percent of journalists report having being pitched through social networks in 2010, compared to 31 percent in 2009.
Through social media, you can take a personal approach to publicity, as it lets you connect with media representatives on a deeper level.
For example, by actively monitoring reporters’ Tweets or Facebook shares, you can get to know more about them then just their beats. As a result, you can tailor your pitches to directly relate to their interests in real-time — thus improving your chances for success.
Drive Leads and Sales
A 2009 study from Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group shows that deep engagement with consumers through social media channels correlates to better financial performance. Of the 100 brands evaluated, those with the heaviest social media engagement grew company revenues by 18 percent from July 2008-July 2009, while the least engaged companies saw revenues sink six percent over the same time period.
In addition, 2010 data from Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate suggests that individuals are more likely to buy from brands with which they are friends or followers on social networks. And, according to Unisfair, social media is the number-one emerging channel for lead generation for technology marketers.
- How did you make the case for social media at your organization?
- How has social media helped you reach your objectives?
- What benefits has it brought your business?
Tracy DiMarino is a consultant at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. Follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyDiMarino.comments powered by Disqus