According to a 2017 Gartner survey on Top Technology Trends1, the primary business goals for small businesses over the next two years are to grow revenue and grow their customer base.
An indispensable tool on your journey to achieve these goals is social media marketing.
And yet, it’s not uncommon for businesses, especially small businesses with limited resources, to use social media marketing secondarily, rather than as a primary tool in their strategy.
Businesses that regard digital marketing as non-essential will quickly find themselves left out of the conversation and outpaced by their more social media-savvy competition.
CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, Lorrie Thomas Ross, says that when done right, “social media marketing works to boost credibility, visibility and sellability”—integral components to growing your revenue and customer base.
In this article, we’ll outline three best practices to help you put together an effective strategy for social media marketing and analysis so you can achieve these goals.
To create this list, we surveyed over 150 marketing professionals to learn how they’re using social media data to achieve channel goals (see demographics at the end).
Here’s what we’ll cover:
1. Build Your Brand, Then Focus on Increasing Awareness
Defining your brand means you have identified the type of business you are, the type of customers you serve and how you serve them. And, directly tied to your marketing and social media marketing strategy, the type of voice you will use to present your brand to consumers.
If you haven’t already defined your brand, that should be your first priority. Ross advises SMBs start with the “three V’s“:
- Values: these are the core values shared by your organization and those you seek to engage
- Value: this is the value your organization delivers
- Voice: this is the voice you use to present your brand and values to the world.
Your brand is central to garnering loyal customers, which in turn grows your customer base.
You achieve brand loyalty by improving brand recognition and recall so consumers are more likely to choose your product or service over your competitors.
You might have short-term success if you skip defining your brand, but you’ll never achieve the same degree of customer loyalty without it.
The two biggest influencers of brand loyalty are brand consistency and brand authenticity. As such, maintaining consistency and authenticity with your brand’s message should be central to your marketing strategy.
- Put guidelines in place dictating how you share your brand. You can use brand management software to help your company stay consistent in how it uses branded content (e.g., your logo, images and marketing copy).
- Have an authentic voice to share brand values. If you spend thousands of dollars on a campaign, but your message is inauthentic or doesn’t resonate with your audience, all that effort was for nothing. Remember that social media marketing is about connecting with people. So you need to have a deep understanding of your target audience, believe in the value your business provides and communicate that sincerely.
Brands that know how to be human, relevant and engaging are the ones who win.
Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO, Web Marketing Therapy, Inc.
HERE’S WHY: Social media marketing goals aren’t mutually exclusive. Increasing brand awareness will help you grow followers and boost traffic to your website—the top three marketing goals for respondents in our survey.
2. Tie Efforts to Revenue and Customer Growth With Social Media Data Analysis
To ensure your marketing strategy is effective at growing your customer base and revenue (i.e., the “return”), you need to measure brand awareness and justify your marketing spend (i.e., your “investment”).
As such, it’s important to measure the “success” of each campaign. To do so, you have to track what resonates with social media consumers and what doesn’t.
If increasing brand awareness is your primary marketing goal, as it is for the majority of consumers in our survey, Ross says these are the metrics you need to track:
- Increase in positive reviews
- Increase in social media followers
- Increase in engagement on/from social media (e.g., comments, likes, shares, website traffic)
- Increase in sales/conversions from social media channels
- Aggregate data from social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to monitor campaign performance and unify reporting. You can use social media analytics tools to track how one campaign performs against another, or how your marketing efforts are performing against competitors. Compare changes in followers, social engagement on posts, click-throughs to your site and more.
- Isolate top-performing campaigns and compare the message and targeting. This will not only help ensure you’re staying consistent with your brand, but will help you replicate what performs well and avoid reproducing what doesn’t.
Note: It’s important to consider the scalability of a campaign when calculating ROI.
Ross says that investing in a video, for example, might feel expensive and time-consuming. However, if it’s a message that resonates with your audience and creates a powerful connection, it will elevate sales, credibility and visibility.
“A video can be used on a website, and shared on a blog, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and even broken up into multiple small videos for other social media,” says Ross.
HERE’S WHY: The top struggle for the marketing professionals we surveyed is understanding why some campaigns work better than others, followed closely by calculating the ROI of campaigns.
If you’re looking to compare campaign success, look for social media analytics tools that focus on diagnostics. If you’re looking to calculate the ROI of campaigns, look for descriptive analytics tools.
3. Invest in Tools That Support Your Current Processes
There are a variety of tools available that can help small businesses perform social media marketing and analytics—from marketing automation software, to campaign management, to business intelligence tools and more.
It’s important to invest in tools that support your needs now, not a solution you hope to grow into. Small businesses especially can’t afford to pay for features they aren’t using.
Ross says she often gets called in to consult for a small businesses who bought a stellar service, but don’t have anyone available or trained to use it. So in addition to investing in tools that support your current workflows, she recommends making sure end-users are involved in the software selection process and trained on how to use the program.
- Identify your main goals for social media marketing. That can include increasing brand awareness, increasing followers etc. Then, look for tools that support these goals.
- Create a list of must-have vs. nice-to-have capabilities. For example, see below for two must-have capabilities among the marketing professionals we surveyed. Then, narrow selection to a shortlist of products that meet end-user needs.
- Provide teams with appropriate training on the tools. This step is essential if you want the tool to enhance and provide value. Evaluate the technical literacy of your staff. Will they need step-by-step training? Or, are they capable of learning the tool for themselves? Make sure you provide training for each type of user, so that your whole staff can use the tool effectively to achieve marketing goals.
HERE’S WHY: We asked respondents to rank several capabilities in order of importance when evaluating social media analytics tools.
The most-important capability driving tool selection for the largest percentage of the survey respondents is the ability to capture data about social consumers (e.g., age, gender, language). This is followed closely by the ability to monitor various social media platforms for specific criteria (e.g., brand mentions).
Capturing data about social consumers help you better understand your audience so you can target your brand’s message to their needs. And of course, keeping an eye on brand mentions over social channels allows you to make more informed investment decisions regarding future marketing efforts.
Your social media marketing and analytics strategy can have a profound impact on your small business goals of growing revenue and your customer base.
When used correctly, the data you glean about social consumers can help you craft more effective brand messaging, measure the ROI of various campaigns and improve your sellability. And these best practices are a good jumping off point for doing so.
To learn more about social media analytics tools, head over to our Buyer’s Guide. Once there, review common capabilities, compare solutions and read reviews from real users.
The demographics for the survey respondents cited in this report are as follows:
- 85 percent are from small to midsize businesses (SMBs) with $100 million or less in annual revenue.
- While all respondents manage social media marketing efforts, other key marketing channels include email (59 percent) and content marketing (52 percent). Respondents could select more than one response.
Respondents By Annual Revenue
Marketing Channels Managed By Respondents
1Information on Gartner’s Top Technology Trends for SMBs Survey
Gartner conducted this survey in April and May 2017 among 699 U.S.-based SMBs, with more than 10 employees and annual revenue of less than $100 million. The survey excluded nonprofit organizations. The qualified respondents are decision-makers, or have significant influence on the decisions related to purchasing technologies for their organization.