Social Media Marketing
Fundamentals



Social media marketing has been largely a mystery to me and so I recently decided to launch an in-depth investigation into its methods and methodologies and report these on Sales-and-Marketing-for-You.com. After spending many weeks perusing books, websites, articles, reports and other sources, I am ready to chronicle my initial findings about the mainstays of this explosive platform and how you can use it to help grow your own brand and business. Along the way I will, as well, implement these strategies myself in order to grow traffic to my website.

Social Media Marketing


If you are like me, then you may have experience using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but have lacked a solid understanding of how to translate this into sales and marketing success for your business. Until very recently I was relatively unaware of the power of this medium as a sales and marketing tool and the essential concepts that govern using it successfully: Control, Conversations and Identity. I discuss these below with tips on how to develop the right mindset for social media marketing success.


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Why Use Social Media Marketing?

The simple answer to this question is that it works! A landmark study of the 100 biggest brands in the world reached the following conclusion: “The most valuable brands in the world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial performance and deep social media engagement.” To put this in other words, the more you engage in social media, the more successful your brand – and business! - will be. To give you another statistic (or two), almost 25% of Internet web page visits now originate from social media sites and this is the same percentage of time people online spend on these sites.


Click for an interactive social media marketing graph of the biggest brands:

Social Media Marketing


I know what you may be thinking: “I have tried it but it doesn't work for me!” You may already have created a business profile and pages on social media sites and have seen limited success despite updates, postings, networking, sharing content and a lot of other work. Believe me when I say that I felt the same way; while using social media sites is a lot of fun, it has taken me a while to figure out how to actually get it to work for business. That is why I have embarked on my research and why I urge you to read on and not give up hope in putting the pieces of a successful social media marketing strategy together for your business.


Social Media Marketing Concept #1: Control

You may already have heard about how using social media for sales and marketing is very different than traditional advertising, promotion and communications for business. I want to explain to you exactly why this is and how trying to use social media like you have used traditional business promotion tools in the past is a recipe for disaster. However, developing a winning strategy on a social media site like Facebook is like setting up a booth at an expo with 500 million attendees!

The first thing to think about when tackling the how of social media marketing is the fact that as a marketer, you no longer have control of either the message or the medium. Whereas traditional advertising and promotion consisted of utilizing print, radio and TV spots – among others – to make an announcement to the general public, the trend over the years is that this one-way communication has open up to being an interactive two-way dialog between yourself and your customers and now has been transformed into an open-ended discussion.

Social Media Marketing


You no longer have control what is said, nor how, nor by whom. This trend is connected to the concepts of the rise of the individual and the fall of the organization that I discuss here. What it means to you as a sales and marketing professional is that your message must become less formalized and more personalized and that you must now seek consumers by going to where they go which is social media sites. Think about the fact that all of your customers are, after all, regular people who have lives outside of work. Social media marketing success therefore begins with taking off your professional hat and putting on, well, a social one!


Social Media Marketing Concept #2: Conversation

You may also already know about the value of conversation in social media marketing and how your goal is to engage and interact with people in order to build relationships. This is all well and good but unless you are truly business-agnostic, you cannot succeed at it. What I mean by this is that you must become fanatic about making your interactions with people about them and not you or your product(s) or service(s). That is why I call my methodology Sales and Marketing for ”You” - “you” means your customer!

Social Media Marketing


You have to understand that you are just one piece of the picture, one link in the fence, and that nobody is particularly interested in your business but are interested in themselves. Trying to generate friends, followers and connections in order to broadcast your message is just not going to work, even if you try and do it cleverly. People use social media sites in order to interact with others and express themselves and unless you can have genuine interactions with people that reflect their interests and values, you cannot use this platform in order to create the relationships that will help you succeed.

Think about social media marketing as conversations at a dinner party or other social gatherings. Or as referral business or as what is sometimes called in traditional sales and marketing as the "friendly neighbor" approach. You need to be real in order for people to connect with you socially and this is no different on social media sites. Would you go up to your neighbor and say, “Hi, I sell cars, would you like to buy one?” Probably not, nor would you leave your business flyers on their doorstep. Rather, you would get to know them and if cars – or whatever you sell – happened to come up in a conversation one day, well...

Social Media Marketing



Social Media Marketing Concept #3: Identity

Traditional sales and marketing is about how to push your product(s) or service(s) onto people, whereas social media marketing – and the trend in business today in general – is about how you can pull people to your brand and business. The way to do this is to appeal to people's lifestyle and values which form their identity. A key thing to understand, therefore, is that identity is the driving force behind the power of social media, people's search for it and desire to express it.

If you are one of many millions of business users of social media who have gone to great lengths to promote your business on these sites only to have failed to generate attention, part of the reason is because you did not appeal to people's sense of identity. Once again, no one is interested in your product(s) or service(s) in real life and what guides people preferences and behavior socially is the creation and recreation of identity. As esoteric as this might sound, it is not. On social media sites people are simply attracted to people and ideas that resonate with their sense of who they are.

Social Media Marketing


If you think about it, people love ideas more than anything else. If they are attracted to other things, it is because those things represent to them the ideas that they hold dearly. If two people are in love, they each represent an idealized form of what the other person is looking for (and when these ideas are not lived up to in real life, there are fights!). Once again, this might sound very deep and philosophical but what you should be thinking about is what ideas your business - and ultimately you – want to represent to others. Do you represent a product or service or something else? I hope you answer “something else” and if so, what? That is the starting point for creating social media marketing success.


Putting Social Media Marketing To Work




What you need to do as a business owner is seek out what the highest idealized form of the value you provide customers is. If you are a car repair mechanic, are you selling spare parts and tune-ups or a stress-free life? If you are in the landscaping business, is beauty what you are really selling? That is probably too abstract but the point is to get to the ultimate value of what you offer and then build on that. As a landscaper, you are selling beauty and your target market is homeowners, right? Well, that is probably where you should focus your efforts: talk about homeownership and join groups and interact with people who are interested in the same!

Social Media Marketing

Which of these ultimate values does your business best represent? There may be more of them but I hope you understand the point of this exercise. People are not interested in you or what you do, but rather are interested in these values. What you need to do, therefore, is connect what you do to these values and figure out what the link is between your product(s) or service(s) and what people really want. Then, like in the landscaper example, you will gravitate towards those people are groups that represent these ideas. Your social media marketing strategy is not to talk about your business but rather, talk about things that people are interested, what they are really passionate about.

Once you find that “middle ground” between what you do and that ultimate value that you represent, your goal is to engage and interact with people in a meaningful way. I will write more about specific tactics for engaging in social media marketing but for now I hope this article was useful in giving you the right mindset and perhaps explaining why your sales and marketing efforts on social media to date have not born plentiful fruit. Remember the cardinal rule which applies to a lot of success in business, which is that in the beginning you should expect to give far more than your receive and that your primary goal is adding value to people's lives and, in this case, the conversation.


Get help with social media marketing!

GO TO:
Social Media Marketing PrinciplesSocial Media MKTG TipsTop Social Media MKTG BrandsSocial Media MKTG StrategiesHow to Meet PeopleWhat is Internet Viral Marketing?Applying Internet Viral Marketing PrinciplesInternet Viral Marketing TipsInternet Viral Marketing SuccessesInternet Viral Marketing FlopsThe Latest TrendsSocial Media Consultant




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