“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”
This popular phrase has evolved from it’s 1970s roots as a conceptual art-piece by Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman, challenging the world of television advertising. It has been adopted by the internet age as warning against free social media that gathers data from it’s users, Facebook being the biggest culprit.
In terms of small business marketing via social media, when utilizing the free, or often times referred to as organic, options, you are at the mercy of whatever internal choices that platform makes for itself. This can create more hoops and uncertainty to reach your target goals.
Facebook started out as the leader of the pack when it came to social media marketing. With the rise of different platforms and younger generations shifting their focus, Facebook is now seen as another tool in your toolkit, but not necessarily the most important one. Treat Facebook as a potential avenue, one of many roads to success.
When it comes to a serious promotion or outreach strategy, paying for visibility on social media can be considered a wise budgetary expense. Before you start putting money toward investing in every paid promotion offered, consider organic first.
With the ultimate goal of engagement leading to acquisition and conversion into repeat customers, organic reach can create a sense of trust with your audience from the start. Organic reach uses the free tools available on social network platforms that offer engagement and ability to converse and share information. It does not, however, target audiences or appear at the top of a feed. By using third party tools such as Hootsuite, you can schedule when to publish organic posts.
Bear in mind that the amount of internet ‘noise’ can be overwhelming and thus finding your audience organically without any paid outreach will be a big job. Social media companies are starting to focus on who pays them for advertising, and featuring those customers.
The decline in Facebook’s organic reach has been noted since 2014 with EdgeRank’s published study noting a 60% drop off within two years. Social@Ogilvy suggested that a page with 500,000 likes might only gain 2% organic reach.
SocialFlow said in 2016 that an even further 52% decline in organic reach occurred.
With numbers like these, it’s hard to ignore paid advertising as a viable option.
Since your goal of engagement should lead to conversion and acquisition of new and returning customers, paid outreach in conjunction with organic is a must. If you’re not spending some of your budget on social media, you cannot rely on receiving the desired impact of your efforts.
Paid outreach has the benefit of targeting demographics that are interested in your products and services. You can specify geographic region, ages and interests to make the most of your specific promotions and communications.
For example, if you are selling tickets to your New York City Off-Broadway one-woman show, you’ll want to focus on people in that geographic region who are interested in things such as performance, theatre, nightlife, and who may be older than 21 years of age. With paid outreach, you can enter these specifications.
Building an audience with paid outreach maximizes your time and energy for social media advertising.
To help you on your way to social marketing success that will be easy to follow and measure, consider marketing guru Avinash Kaushik’s ground-breaking ‘See, Think, Do, Care’ method.
Social media requires a different tactic than traditional advertising ways of ‘awareness, consideration, purchase and loyalty’. Customers in the 21st century view products in a completely different manner than before. Consider this new framework as a ladder to successful outreach be it paid or organic:
This is your targeted demographic in a general sense, those that are interested in the topic and related topics of your goods and services. Knowing who this audience is helps you to create content that will be of interest to them.
The next step is the creation of content and conversation starters that makes it easy for the audience to make a purchasing decision. For example, product comparison lists, how-to videos and more.
Add actionable items to your marketing strategy. Calls to action such as easy-to-click promotions, coupon codes, customer care chat and add-to-cart buttons can be included in your social media paid promotions in addition to being on your website.
Follow up on the enthusiasm of a promotion, even if the offer is for a finite period of time. By continuing to organically engage with your audience on social media, you increase the amount of trust and the potential for repeat customers with word-of-mouth sharing potential.
This new strategy for online marketing is easy to follow, more personable than ever before, and of course easy to track in your social metrics toolkit.
While measuring your social media metrics, you’ll constantly be asking yourself about ROI, return on investment. How you measure this success ultimately depends on the brand objectives you set for yourself. If it’s awareness, engagement or sales, monitoring your presence will give you the answers you need to either stay the course, or pivot to a new strategy.
By learning how to use metrics monitoring tools you’ll save time and money by being able to clearly track if all your efforts are working the way you intended. Instead of a guessing game, metrics help you see your strategy in action in terms of critical thinking and assessment. Keep clear objectives in mind and track your performance metrics diligently and you’ll be on your way to using social media successfully to build up your business’ online footprint.