(As published in the Sunday Star Times, March 29, 2015)
I don’t know about you, but it seems very easy for me to while away time on Facebook. I quickly log on to check out my newsfeed and the next minute I find twenty minutes has disappeared! It can be the same way with posting on it – fiddling around with the wording of your post, sorting out the image, answering comments and questions from your followers. Is this time investment worth it for your business and can you really get a good ROI from social media?
Following on from last week’s column on social media, I once again picked the brain of Business Changing client Wendy Thompson, managing director of social media marketing agency Socialites.
According to Wendy, social media marketing has made massive inroads into solving the infamous Henry Ford quote: “I know half of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half”. In the past, you’d pop a few posts up on Facebook, see how many of your followers liked or saw them, and that was it. Sure, it was nice to see that people were reading what you had to say, but we weren’t always so good on discerning if that led to sales. We need to be more savvy than that now.
For many businesses (especially service-focused ones), social media is less of a sales tool and more a way of content marketing. It’s a platform for sharing helpful content, engaging your followers and creating a conversation, and reminding them that they should come to you the next time they need a service or the goods that you provide.
Social media is also a way of building on that awesome triangle that people need to buy into before they become a true raving fan of yours: like, trust and know. The more your customers or clients see you on Facebook and other platforms with content that shows you know what you’re talking about, the more they feel they know you, the more they trust what you have to say and the more they like you. All of this adds up to credibility and – in the long run – sales.
But what about keeping Roger in Accounts happy with what you are achieving? Tracking the impact of your social media was always a bit hard in the past, but now you can, says Wendy. For example, Facebook has released Conversion Click tracking that not only records direct online sales, but also shows you where in the marketing funnel Facebook made a difference. Other platforms will surely follow shortly. Take that, Roger.
Most technologies also integrate nicely into Google Analytics, so you can see exactly what your Facebook follower did after reading your post – did they go to your website? Did they follow through with an order? Make sure you keep an eye on these stats, says Wendy, so you can get a true idea of which of your content work and which you need to tweak or drop entirely.
Wendy says her clients this year are excited about the new tools that enable more direct sales conversions, such as Buy Now buttons on Facebook and Twitter. Like2Buy is a successful Instagram purchase add-on that is being used by many successful retailers including Nordstrom and Ted Baker, and soon there will be Pinterest shopping – “Like what you see? Buy it now!”. For a softer close, don’t forget to include the website link to the product you’ve just posted online – always make it as easy as possible for your customers.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapshot can be mind-boggling. But like all tools in business, if you’re going to use them you need to do it properly. Don’t be half-hearted in your efforts, remember to test and measure, and if you’re truly stumped, seek best practice – emulate what the industry leaders are doing and put your own stamp on it.
Zac de Silva is a business coach and owns www.businesschanging.com. He also runs a Business Bootcamp for SMEs wanting to take their business to the next level. Wendy Thompson is director of www.socialites.co.nz