Absolutely. No one needs to tell you how popular sites like Twitter and Facebook are in this day and age. But do you realise the potential value to your business? Chances are your company has a Facebook page, upon which you idly post from time to time. Or maybe you ‘tweet’ the odd comment. In which case you probably haven’t noticed the benefit to your business. Put a little more time and energy (and yes, money probably) into social media and social marketing management however and you could build a valuable platform for yourself and your customers.
Why is social marketing management important?
A social marketing management team is there to enhance a brand and promote the business. The end goal is the same as a traditional marketing team. It is simply the channels through which that goal is achieved that are different.
Social media is the new way of connecting with customers. A social marketing management team will use information gleaned from social media to learn about their customers – who they are, what they are thinking, what appeals to them.
Social media can also be used to create a brand identity, by encouraging customers to talk about the brand in the right way. Discussions can be started and led and conversations steered. Social media is a valuable tool when it comes to creating a buzz about a product or brand. The social marketing management team are there to ensure the right buzz is created and a positive image is generated by social media.
It is difficult to measure the effect of social media on businesses, as often there is no clear link between the level of activity on social media sites and the resulting return on that level of activity. However, a recent study from the School of Management at the Buffalo State University of New York showed that if customers are engaged in the business via a social media platform, they are more likely to visit the website than customers who are not engaged in this way. This then translates to income for the business.
Ram Bezawada, assistant professor of marketing at the University, stated: “Our results show that when customers engage with a business through social media they contribute about 5.6% more to the firm’s bottom line than customers who do not.”
So how does social media encourage customers to visit the company’s website or take a closer look at the business? For one, social media strengthens the relationship between the customer and the business. It creates a bond between the two and the customer feels more engaged and involved in the company, which translates into the customer feeling listened to and understood.
This leads on to the next point: social media can provide a valuable platform for customers to voice their comments, concerns and complaints. It might not seem like a good idea to offer a medium upon which customers can air their complaints for all the world to see, however it can provide an invaluable opportunity to turn things around – a complaint that is promptly and sensitively handled will impress customers and win loyalty. Of course, social media might also be the platform upon which a customer will heap their praise, too, letting all the other potential customers know about their positive experience. There is no better form of endorsement.
As Bezawada from the State University of New York states, “When building communities, businesses should craft personalized messages, encourage member contribution, integrate knowledge about customers from both online and offline interactions, and create specialized sub-communities for customers looking for premium and unique products.”
However, creating personalised messages and encouraging contributions from customers takes time. Taking it one step further and using customer interactions to glean knowledge takes even more time and requires a good degree of analysis. Which is where the social marketing management team come in. Good analysis of the data from social media can drive corporate strategy.
What does social marketing management involve?
Social marketing management involves managing the company’s social channels. This sounds obvious, but a social marketing team does not simply monitor and respond to customer comments and prepare content such as blogs, posts and newsletters. Social marketing management also involves assessing the best methods and technology to boost web traffic to the business, looking at areas such as search engine optimisation, user experience and content.
The next step on the social marketing management list is reporting. Numbers are important: click-throughs, fans, followers, tweets, comments, posts; and so is the less concrete information that can be gleaned – customer feedback, good and bad, reflects brand perception and how customers feel generally about the brand.
This type of customer feedback can then be used by management to figure out how to deliver improved performance to their customers and improve their user experience. It engages the management team with the customer on a personal level in a way in which they haven’t been able to do before.
Where might a business expect to spend money on social marketing management?
Well, that depends on the level of complexity of your business and social media campaigns. There are customer relationship management tools and software platforms that can perform analytics and automated email campaigns, for which you might pay $1,000 to $4,000 a month.
For a fee of perhaps $5,000 to $16,000 a business can employ a specialist company to provide inbound marketing support. Typically, a good social marketing management strategy might involve: keyword analysis and strategy, content creation such as blogs, SEO content and PR Social media support (setup, training and guidance), email campaigns, customer relationship management, competitor monitoring and analysis and performance reports, to name but a few elements.
Another cost consideration is content creation. The larger your campaign, the more online content you’ll need to create, and unless you have the internal resources to create this content, you’ll need to outsource it to writers.
This all sounds fairly pricey and the costs do add up. However, as with any marketing spend, it will pay you back. Or it should, provided you do it right.
In a nutshell?
It can’t really be described in a single ‘nutshell’. This is because social marketing management is not only about increasing web traffic and driving up revenue, it is also about creating an identity for the company, developing a personality for the business or creating a buzz around a new product. It’s about generating conversations between the customers and the business and creating an online community for the customers to get involved with. It’s much more than just lurking on the company Facebook page and popping up to write the odd witty post or deal with a customer complaint. It is promotion, branding, market research and customer care all wrapped up into one.
Which is why social marketing management is so important in this new digital era businesses find themselves in. And why it’s worth investing in. Get it right and it could transform an ailing company. Get it wrong and it can alienate and disillusion a customer base. Ignore it all together and valuable market share will be lost in droves.