Social Media Marketing is an online, permission based marketing medium. Just a few years ago social media marketing was thought to be effective only with younger consumers and hip, cool, or nerdy-chic products. Now, however, it is obvious that social media marketing is an effective tool and platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes, across many industries. From software to plumbing, from $2.00 widgets to several thousand dollar pieces of mechanical equipment, companies are joining the social media evolution.
If your business is not currently carrying out a well thought out online strategy that includes a hefty dose of social media marketing, it is time to get on board. Recently published studies, carried out by the Government of Canada, show that the consumer behaviour of Canadians is changing. Consumers are now researching, price comparing and purchasing online more than they ever have before. If you are not where they are when they are investigating and then making their purchasing decision, which one of your competitors is going to be there instead? And, if you think your competitors are not online either, you could be very wrong. According to recent polls performed by com.motion, competitors are already investing in social media marketing. Canadian businesses are responding to both changing consumer behaviour and the current economic environment by cutting budgets traditional media spend and maintaining or upping their budgets for social media marketing. These stats are tr ue across several industries because more and more businesses are realizing the profitable implications of social media marketing.
If the research and stats are not convincing you to get on board with social media marketing, consider this: social media offers you and your business the perfect opportunity to hold an open dialogue with your target market. In other words, you can learn about the likes, dislikes, wants and needs of your target market without having to spend the time and money to hold expensive focus groups. If for no other reasons, this is a great motive for entering the online world of social media.
For businesses that are just beginning to include social media marketing as part of their online strategies, there are several ways to go. Based on your budget you may choose to hire an Internet marketing firm to skilfully and quickly help your business establish and promote a web presence that goes beyond your website and some cost per click campaigns. This is likely the most effective way to achieve immediate positive results. Another option would be to hire an online marketing specialist or team of specialists. This is usually more expensive than outsourcing and, if you only hire one person, you will likely not achieve the same results as fast (a team of professionals is often more effective than a single individual), but you will have a person dedicated solely to your account and you will be able to manage their schedule, if that is important to you.
Yet another alternative is to enter the social media world without the help of professionals. If this is the route you are planning to take, I highly recommend putting a lot of time and effort into researching social media and getting comfortable with it on a personal level before jumping into social media marketing. A blog is a great warm up. It allows you to establish a voice, garner some interest, and achieve a certain comfort level with online interactions. Next, learn where your target market is online in order to approach them. Social media is not like traditional media in that you cannot simply blanket the media with messages that you want your consumers to hear. A better approach would be the similar to approaching a group of people at a party. Wait for an opening to start a dialogue, learn a little about them and then make some brilliant and witty observation or joke that they ask you to repeat to the other guests.
As already mentioned, social media is the perfect platform to engage your target market. It will allow you to find out what your target markets interests and motivators are without performing expensive research. It will also help you build relationships, and to develop, shape and foster brand recognition. If your company has not yet gotten its feet wet with social media marketing, you are way behind; it may be time for you to hold your breath and just jump in.
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