Social Media Optimization Whitepaper
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Social Media Optimization: Using the Right Strategy for the Right Customer Segment
By: Malcom Chakery
Every marketing strategy begins and ends with a definitive statement about the company’s main customer segment. Ultimately, success in marketing is all about identifying a company’s core customers and delivering a marketing message to those customers that best defines the company, its products, and most importantly, its value.
For years companies relied upon an established set of marketing principles. First, they tried to reach their target audience by print media. This type of strategy was best defined by magazine, newsprint and flyer advertisements. Second, they relied upon radio and or TV. Third, they used large-scale billboard advertisements. Finally, they accompanied all these strategies with catalogs, brochures and or direct mail campaigns.
All of these aforementioned strategies were predicated on searching for customers. It was a numbers game; the more a company inundated its chosen customer segment with advertisements and marketing messages, the more likely it was to increase its customer base. It was nowhere near scientific in its approach or outcome but it was the only viable means of connecting buyers and sellers within large markets.
The idea was that the sheer volume of advertising would eventually illicit a buying response, or better yet, that customers would “stumble” upon the company’s offering and decide to purchase. Unfortunately, it was rarely, if ever, accurate. In fact, it was commonplace for companies to ask new customers how they came to hear about the company. Companies asked because they simply had little to no idea which of these outbound marketing strategies worked. This made defining the costs of customer acquisition extremely difficult, if not impossible. Outbound marketing was based on a principle of pushing products to customers with little or no idea as to which outbound marketing strategy worked best.
Not only was it a problem to track where these customers came from, how much it cost to get them, and or which strategies worked best, but it was also difficult to make changes to any of these marketing strategies without incurring substantial costs. After all, you can’t change a print advertisement in real-time. If a mistake is made, and or it’s not reaching its target audience, then the costs of modifying that advertisement are considerable.
The Rise of Digital Advertising and Marketing
While these marketing strategies are still being used, they are quickly losing ground to a more sophisticated form of marketing which is far more accurate, far more precise, much less expensive, and one where the costs of customer acquisition are much easier to define and simpler to manage. In fact, it’s a marketing strategy that can be measured and manipulated in real-time. It’s one that allows companies to make drastic and considerable shifts in advertising strategies without incurring substantial cost overruns. That new form of marketing is online marketing and accompanying its sudden and drastic rise to the top is social media.
How popular is online marketing? According to several sources, digital marketing and advertising will be 70% of small and medium-sized (SMB) business marketing budgets by the end of 2015. Ultimately, inbound/online marketing and social media are critical tools in today’s marketplace. The basic premise of inbound marketing is to help a customer search for a company and its products as opposed to the company searching endlessly for customers.
What is Social Media and What Role Does it Play in Marketing?
Social media are online platforms that include websites, forums, Apps and or blogs where likeminded individuals, friends and colleagues can create, share and comment online about a given topic or issue of interest. However, within the realm of marketing, social media is much more than just a place for people to gather online. It is much more than just a social networking tool. At its core, it is a marketing outreach tool.
Within the realm of marketing, social media optimization is a doctrine whereby companies use multiple social media communities, platforms and outlets in order to increase brand recognition, build customer loyalty and or bring awareness to a special company event. This is achieved by incentivizing customers and individuals to share information, likes and preferences about the company, its products and its services. Success implies that an increase in sharing leads to a higher PageRank in online searches, which in turn means more traffic to the company’s website. The more traffic a website receives, the higher its conversion rates on website visits.
Managing these aforementioned social media communities and outlets is an involved process, one where companies must continually monitor and adjust their strategies accordingly. However, despite the amount of work involved, it’s important to remember that the impetus for growing a social media presence is a collaborative effort between a company and its customer base. After all, it’s the customer that helps to propagate the company’s message into the market by sharing common interests online about the company’s product offering.
Social Media Optimization and Search Engine Optimization
Today’s search engines rely upon the time-critical feedback and recommendations from users of social networks. Whether it’s Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Reddit, more and more of these likes and recommendations from consumers are being used to rank websites in online searches.
The more Facebook likes or Tweets a single webpage receives, the higher its popularity, and ultimately, the higher its PageRank. These likes or Tweets are viewed as “votes” on a website’s relevance. If a website receives more of these votes and recommendations than another, then it’s viewed as a more important source of reference in the eyes of search engines. However, there’s another more important reason companies need to have a social media optimization strategy; protecting a company’s traffic against future Google algorithm changes is possible if its social media presence is strong.
While social media is needed to increase a website’s relevance in the eyes of search engines, it’s also needed to protect the website against those very same search engines and their algorithm changes. Most companies assume that it’s essentially a one-way relationship. They see social media as a means to achieve a higher PageRank. However, the main reason a company needs a social media optimization strategy is to ensure that it creates a steady stream of traffic not linked or tied to any individual search engine. In this case, companies must come to see social media as a buffer against the uncertainties presented by potential search engine algorithm changes.
Social Searches and Search Engines
Search engines are now starting to rely upon personalized and or social searches. These personalized searches come from individuals who are searching online for a given product or service within a specific geographical location.
This has given rise to a whole new subset of social media. Applications like Yahoo! Local, Yelp and or Google Places are social media platforms that service a specific location. These location-based searches are now becoming more important for search engines and should therefore be a critical component of any company’s social media optimization strategy.
How important are social searches and location-based searches? Consider the following example. When a consumer looks to eat out at a restaurant, they’ll immediately search online by the city, town or borough they’re located in. Next, they’ll rely upon the feedback provided by likeminded individuals on Yelp and or Yahoo! Local as opposed to merely relying upon the information provided by the restaurant’s website. Ultimately, social media is more trusted by consumers because it’s seen as unbiased. Social media is seen as a more viable source of relevant information for consumers than any other reference source online.
Not All Social Media is the Same
A common mistake companies make is to assume that social media is universal. The fact is that not all social media outlets provide the same benefits to all companies in all industries. The focus must be on defining the company’s core market and customers and then choosing a social media optimization strategy tailored to that market and customer segment.
Business-to-business (B2B) markets, business-to-consumer (B2C) markets and business-to-government (B2G) markets are all different and therefore require different social media optimization strategies. Some applications like Twitter and Google+ are beneficial to all markets and can be considered universal to all. However, Facebook is more a consumer-based social media platform and one not tailored to business professionals the way LinkedIn is.
The strategies employed by companies in social media optimization must come from an understanding of where the company’s customers congregate and gather online. While RSS feeds can be used on any website or blog, it’s wrong to assume that all customers want to Facebook like a given product or service.
Business professionals, such as engineers, are less likely to Facebook like a new product as Facebook is more geared towards consumers. Instead, business professionals are more likely to start a LinkedIn group in order to discuss different applications with professionals in similar fields. As such, companies must be able to define where their specific customer segments gather online and then put a social media optimization strategy together in order to reach that specific customer segment.
Putting Together a Social Media Optimization Strategy
Whether it is providing well-written content, videos, podcasts or even gaming platforms, putting together a social media optimization strategy is often the hardest part and something a number of companies are unable to do without guidance. The focus must be on using the right social media platform for the right application. While inbound marketing and social media are less expensive than those outdated outbound marketing strategies of the past, this doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t costly.
A company must have a clearly defined social media optimization strategy that allows them to reach their target audience, increase traffic to their website, and most importantly, increase their conversion rates on sales and website traffic. It’s not just about reaching customers. It’s about using social media to solidify the company’s online presence, while protecting its reputation and brand in its market.
When the right social media optimization strategy is adopted, it’s the customer who will do the rest. It’s the customer who will then share what they like most about the company’s product offering and it’s the customer who will get that all-important message out. Once that happens, it becomes a continuous feedback loop. The company takes the feedback from its customer base to improve its message, its brand and its reputation through its chosen social media platform.
Ultimately, defining a social media optimization strategy comes down to answering three critical questions.
1. What is the company’s market and industry?
2. Where do customers gather online?
3. What social media sites best serves these customers and markets?
Solutions Provided Through Chakery.com
Chakery.com has over 12 years experience in social media, online marketing and website design. The company’s focus is to work directly with businesses in all kinds of markets and industries by defining what it takes to increase customer and brand loyalty through digital advertising and marketing.
Defining a social media optimization strategy isn’t simply a matter of putting anything together. It’s not merely a question of putting up a Facebook page and or opening a Twitter account. It’s about structuring the entire online marketing message around one cohesive and all-encompassing strategy, one that combines the company’s inbound marketing with a proactive approach to social media management.
Chakery knows how to reach different customers in different market segments and industries. The approach is to work directly with companies in order to define their core customer segments. Next, a strategy is put together that defines where these customers gather online and how best to reach them. Finally, an entire social media optimization strategy is employed in order to continually feed those customers with timely information about the company, its latest product and service offerings, and its latest news.
It’s a solution built around increasing traffic to a company’s website and helping that company build brand loyalty, all the while simplifying how that company manages its online reputation. Social media is the tool, but Chakery is the solution.
Source: Advertising Systems Inc.
Digital Advertising will be 70% of SMB Marketing Budgets by 2015
- Date March 27, 2016
- Tags Whitepaper