Social Media Marketing

Expanding your online presence and targeting your message

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is using social media sites and apps to provide information about your business, and running highly targeted advertising on social media to attract new customers.

What isn’t social media marketing?

Many people think social media is some kind of marketing panacea, where if you just post the right things you’ll somehow “go viral” and attract streams of customers. It’s not a get-customers-quick scheme.

What’s best way to market using social media?

First building a high-converting online experience – i.e. a page of some kind that leads to your desired business result – and consistently running targeted advertising to drive people there.

How does Mountwell think about social media marketing?

Social media is both an incredibly effective marketing tool, and a tremendous waste of companies’ time.

How can it be both? Because many business owners have a misguided sense of how to use it.

For various reasons, many people think social media is some kind of marketing panacea, where if you just post the right things you’ll somehow go viral and attract streams of customers. But that is by far the exception, not the rule. In our experience, that way of thinking leads to lots of misused effort and dissatisfaction with marketing overall.

So, here’s how we define it: social media marketing is using social media sites and apps to provide information about your business, and running highly targeted advertising on social media to attract new customers.

That’s why we advise most small businesses to rely on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn as advertising channels and online directories, not places to attract lots of new customers for free. 

Now, it certainly can’t hurt to post on those sites routinely, and it should be part of your regular communication mix. But you also shouldn’t let it distract from other, more valuable areas to grow your online presence.

A little more context: when social media first came around, agencies and software companies started promoting it as a get-customers-quick scheme. Large enterprises started investing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to building teams and posting constantly. There are now infamous stories about companies taking months to plan individual tweets.

A lot of changed since then. First, companies have realized that basing your whole marketing strategy on virality is a little like playing the lottery to pay bills. More importantly, platforms now limit how many people can see your business’s unpaid posts. News feeds are governed by algorithms that, in at least Facebook’s case, put your friends’ and family’s posts before companies you follow. Therefore, the organic reach of your posts – i.e. how many people will see it without putting ad money behind it – is usually a fraction of your total followers. 

Estimates vary about average organic reach, and as you get more followers, the relative percentage of those people who see your posts declines. We’ve seen pages with tens of thousands of followers routinely reach only a few hundred people with their posts, and at most about a third.

Nevertheless, there’s still a huge amount of marketing value in these platforms if you use them the right way.

When we talk about using these platforms like directories, we refer to the fact that people often use sites like Facebook as a search engine to look up businesses. Furthermore, even if someone uses Google to look up your company, your Facebook page often appears near the top of the results page, giving you additional assurance they’ll find you. That’s an easy win to make sure you aren’t missing potential business.

Note that all you need to seize those opportunities is set up a page and fill it out with all the necessary details and images. You don’t need to publish clever posts every day to get that foundational level of value.

Nevertheless, you usually need an account to use these platforms for advertising, which is the real magic of social media (and why these companies make so much money). Because people give these companies so much personal information, and constantly signal their interests by following accounts they’re interested in, social media channels offer the most specific and accurate targeted advertising possible. These companies even buy information about you from third-party companies, and track you when you leave their platforms, to enable advertisers to show the right ads to the right people.

It’s very easy to set up a social media advertising campaign, but they can get complex quickly. Platforms like Facebook seem to be changing their advertising tools and dashboard every day,  adding or rearranging their options. Different platforms run ads differently, too, with different sets of tools and best practices. And it’s not just about setting up ads – running effective campaigns also means evaluating and interpreting the results in order to make adjustments for better performance.

The one thing we generally advise is think of these ads as tools to drive toward an inherently meaningful result. If you have an online store, you want to drive toward purchases on your site. If you have a website with a contact form or email list signup, you want to drive toward people contacting you or signing up for your email list. If you’re holding an event, you want to drive people to register or RSVP for the event. 

It’s less advisable to run ads just to get more followers or more interaction on a certain post. While it may feel good to see new likes and comments, those are fleeting, indirect measures of return on investment.

No matter what, social media is not a marketing strategy in and of itself. It’s one tool in a toolbox, that is used most effectively in concert with a range of other techniques, as part of a large approach. 

Not sure what type of social media marketing you need? Just take our free digital marketing health assessment, or reach out using the form below.

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