The growth and prevalence of social media has changed the way companies and brands are communicating – forever.
No longer a fad, social media platforms are part of modern communication; in life and within a business’s marketing plan.
The various and infinite social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat etc) are allowing businesses to connect, share information and even collaborate on projects online.
Social media is conversational and facilitates user participation and dialogue…
“Creating buzz that can become viral by posting and sharing newsworthy articles, videos, tweets or blog entries is a crucial social media tool. It is this buzz which makes social media work for both marketing and networking purposes because it replicates messages through user-to-user contact rather than through an advert.”
However, the overall aim of social media is to build long-term, sustainable relationships. This does not occur overnight and companies need to devote time and effort to creating successful creative campaigns that will increase brand awareness and put your product or service in front of your audience.
In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed how ‘social’ construction companies are and we’ve listed several strategies that can be employed to increase a company’s social profile.
‘Social’ was defined as interaction, either between or within businesses – not forgetting that internal marketing is just as essential as external marketing. The blog posts explored the benefits of allowing employees to use social media in the work place and how this can benefit a company’s reputation by humanising the brand.
However, this must only be implemented with a solid strategy in place so that everything done on social media is productive and contributes to the overall marketing objectives.
“Being ‘social’ includes embracing change and adopting the new digital technologies in a way that suits your business and without being afraid of the transparency that comes with it. There is more opportunity available for you to show off your skills and prove that your company can provide the services and advantages that it promises.”
Demonstrate why clients should choose you over your competitors and giving prospects an insight into your company and how you work will help them make this decision.
This interaction is part of the marketing strategy and will ensure that your online conversations and engagements have a clear and well defined purpose.
The difference between social media networking and marketing
Social media networking aims to form communities of members with common interests or goals.
Businesses connect and communicate with each other on a personal level by creating and distributing valuable content which can be shared.
Creating and distributing educational, inspiring content thats helps specifers, architects, estimators and buyers make better decisions will create loyalty and position an organisation as a resource to others.
Online conversations can convert people and customers into brand advocates because they feel their opinions are being heard and that they are receiving something back in return.
Thus it is worth investing time and money into it. But if you can’t measure its returns, you shouldn’t be doing it.
“When companies use social media simply for networking, there tends to be no definite strategy or objectives set out. The main goal usually involves extending their network and connecting to as many industry peers as possible in their sector.
Although this is a suitable approach for some, most construction marketers want to ensure that their social media efforts turn into measurable returns such as increasing sales figures and adding to the bottom line.”
A survey carried out (back in 2010) by Daryl Willcox Publishing found that 54% of small and medium-sized enterprises have a social media presence, with 68% saying they use the platforms for networking.
The survey also showed that 68% are active in social media to attract new customers, whilst 61% are attempting to build brand awareness.
If customer acquisition and increasing brand awareness are your business objectives then social media networking is sufficient for your needs.
However, if you want to retain your customers, increase your revenue and expand your company, then you need to participate in social media marketing which includes more than just ‘networking’.
Social media marketing on the other hand, is a strategic process whereby a company promotes their business, services and products through social media channels targeting a social savvy audience.
There is a defined purpose behind every action and companies aim to generate business leads. Increase brand awareness and brand loyalty from the target market with which they communicate online.
“However, social media marketing must be approached differently than traditional marketing.”
You are not selling your business but instead forming relationships through communities and connecting with people who have a problem for which you can offer the right solution.
Once people feel that you are part of their community and vice versa, they will support you and recommend you to their peers. It is word-of-mouth marketing at its best!
“There is no other low-cost promotional tool out there that can compete on such a grand scale.”
Social media marketing aims to position companies as opinion leaders in their respective fields. This includes educating the market on specific topics and constantly staying ‘on top of their game’ by reinventing their offering and marketing messages thus providing a brand experience like no other.
Campaigns should focus on communicating with clients and prospects by creating and sharing attention-grabbing and informative content and driving traffic to the main website where the conversion process can begin.
This results in the circulation of links that generate online conversations and encourage readers to share these on social networking sites. Increased brand favourability and large amounts of website traffic can result from such activities as the message circulates because it presumably resonates from a ‘trusted peer’ source (as opposed to the brand or company itself).
Social media marketing also facilitates brand building through creative advertising. By participating in discussions about topics that interest your prospects, businesses can establish their online presence as a company that is relevant, personable and current.
Why use social media for marketing?
Marketing programmes designed for social media have to be strategically formulated, following the steps undertaken for traditional media campaigns such as print.
This ensures that clear objectives and goals are outlined from the start, making it easier to measure campaign effectiveness. The Daryl Willcox poll discovered that LinkedIn is the most popular social networking site with businesses (73% usage), while 64 % are on Facebook and 63% have a presence on Twitter.
This information is helpful to marketers because they can focus their efforts on the social media sites with the most users.
However, businesses need to research which social media platforms are used most by their target audience. In the construction industry, LinkedIn and Twitter seem to have the most influence and this should be considered when implementing campaigns.
“Twitter is slowly becoming an important social media platform for B2B companies in the construction industry. Many businesses are only just realising the vast potential of this medium and therefore we compiled a list of the top 5 ways of using Twitter for business.”
Here are 5 of the reasons you should use Twitter for business:
- Networking and building connections
- Sharing company news and content
- Building awareness of a marketing campaign
- Listening to brand mentions – what do people say/feel about your company?
- Internal marketing – communicating with employees
There are many other effective ways of using social media and as long as there is a balance between personal and professional conversations then you are on the right track.
Social media networking is the first step for business owners and marketers to embracing social media.
They want to ‘test the waters’ by conversing online, sharing content and simply becoming familiar with using the various social media platforms. However, the full potential of social media and the benefits it can bring to your business will only be discovered if measurable goals are identified.
The approaches involved in designing and executing traditional advertising campaigns, need to be applied to social media in a similar manner. Yes, you don’t want to bombard your followers with advertising messages encouraging them to buy your products and services, but there are different ways of engaging with them whilst still fulfilling business objectives.
“For example, product manufacturers can tweet or blog about new products being introduced into the market, they can lead discussions on topics within LinkedIn and publish articles on blogs and forums about issues that would interest their followers and educate them further about the products. I
n this way users can interact with your material, read it and hopefully share it with their peers. Thereby you are positioning yourself in the marketplace as thought leaders with the published articles illustrating your expertise and knowledge.
This speaks louder than listing your qualities and services on your website without any proof to back up your claims that you are the leaders within your own sector.”
So we leave you with this thought: are you still networking instead of marketing? Have you been conversing with your audience without implementing a measurable online marketing strategy?
Well if you have, we hope this article will convince you to do otherwise.
Start taking control of your online conversations to make sure that they are leading towards a measurable goal. If you would like some assistance with this strategy development please do give us a call on 01908 671707.