Although the economic ground beneath our feet is squishy at best, we’re standing in a particularly sweet spot in the world of social media marketing. As more marketers turn to blogging, microblogging and social networks to build brand loyalty, the social media services themselves continue to wrestle with how to make a profit off all of our online activity.
Twitter has finally hired its first business development executive as it continues to look into pay-per-tweet and advertising revenue streams while Facebook has implemented a fairly lucrative advertising model and even manages to convince some of us to purchase digital “gifts” for our online “friends.” MySpace has found currency, both literally and figuratively, in the music world, as it offers bands a forum to reach new audiences and build their online following.
While these social networks flesh out their budget plans, marketers continue to search for the best way to retain customers and find cost-efficient strategies to communicate with them. As the economic forecast calls for more gloom in the coming months, those marketers who have managed to hold onto their jobs need to find a way to keep their brands in front of their customers without depleting their company’s remaining funds. Now is the time to shed your misgivings about social media marketing. Until these services start charging a registration and usage fee, it’s too costly to your own business objectives NOT to try them out.
With that said, remember that the only solid social media strategy for your business is the one that works. There is no one, perfect way to maximize the reach and scope of Facebook or Ning or Digg. If you create a space in which you can continually offer compelling content and value to your customers and prospects, then they will return. Simply put, the old excuses for why your business can avoid dipping its toe in the social media marketing pool no longer work.
Social media marketing takes too much time to set up and monitor
In the time it took you to read the opening paragraph of this post, you could have signed up for a new Twitter account, written the topic sentence of your next blog post, or invited twenty people to become fans of your business on Facebook. While it’s true that social media marketing requires attention and upkeep, you will get the hang of it with enough practice. Over time, you’ll develop your own voice and get a sense of the type of communication your customers and prospects react to the best.
Social media marketing can’t possibly bring value to my business
According to a 2008 study by Cone, 59 percent of Americans regularly use social media, and of those, 56 percent find a stronger connection with brands that have established some sort of interactive social media environment. While the ROI of social media marketing can be difficult to calculate, social media’s intangible bang-for-your-buck is as a lead-nurturing tool. You might not make a direct sale through Twitter marketing (although Dell certainly has), but you will help your business to stay in front of its future customers, so that once the economic ground grows more solid, you’ll be in the right position to move forward.
In other words, social media marketing has grown from a fringe service into a viable marketing strategy for companies of all sizes. As Americans spend more time in online environments, it’s more important than ever before to solicit feedback and generate forums where you can demonstrate your company’s expertise. And while Twitter twiddles its thumbs over how to make money off of 140-character tweets, marketers can test a rich array of free services to communicate with their customer base and wait out the storm.
This is a guest post from Megan. Subscribe to our feed if you’d like to hear more of her thoughts in the near future.