If you work in social media, you’ve probably heard “Why?” more times than you can count. “Why does this matter?” “Why is social media valuable to my business?” “Why should we be paying you to help us?” I’ve been working in the social media world for three years now, and “why” questions are what I get to answer time and time again.
It’s undisputed that other areas of the digital marking world, like SEO or PPC, are valuable to your website and your business because those are areas that increase traffic to your website, and often lead to more conversions. So, why is it that social media gets a bad rap? Why do I continue to work in a field that is constantly the underdog? Short answer: I believe in the power of social media for businesses, and I believe in doing it right.
I’m going to discuss three reasons why social media (and social media strategists) matter in the digital marketing realm, and perhaps educate other sectors of the digital marketing space who think that we just “play on Facebook all day.”
Social impacts all sectors of digital marketing
When working at a digital marketing company like Portent, there are several departments to help clients with many different online strategies. It can be argued that social can affect all of these different departments.
Content and social fit together like peanut butter and chocolate – we’re pretty good individually, but together we’re magical! Creating content that is easily sharable on social is exactly what your online marketing campaign needs. You want audiences reading and sharing your content, which is where social comes in. Posting a link to your content isn’t going to cut it anymore. It takes some great messaging, smart timing and an eye-catching format. Marketing your content effectively across your different social media platforms can give it that extra push, and hopefully others start sharing that content with their friends.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and social, while once separate, have come together quite nicely. Links and interaction on social media can make a considerable difference on a website’s search rankings, making an optimized social media page beneficial for SEO. Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest can make significant differences on SEO, especially if they are set up properly and you are posting sharable content to these sites.
Pay-per-click (PPC) and social are becoming more closely related than ever. The big social networks are using targeted paid ads on their platforms so that your content can reach more people (at a price). The gold can be found when organic and paid social come together on high quality posts. In fact, according to new research from Marin Software, search campaigns perform significantly better when they are managed alongside social campaigns (average of 26% higher revenue per click, in fact).
Social media can even impact website design. Social follow and share icons across your website are important. What’s even more important is putting them in the correct places. We want people to visit your new website, and also easily find your social networks and share your content on social directly from the site. In addition, social can help with testing new websites. Do all social buttons work? Do all social sharing buttons go to the correct places? Does your website’s look and feel coordinate with your social media channels? Are your website URLs up to date in your social media profiles so that social users can easily find your site? All of these things matter to create a cohesive online presence, and stellar experience for the user.
Social is constantly changing
Social media marketers are fully aware that the social media landscape is always changing. With new social networks popping up all the time and well-established social networks like Facebook and Twitter changing their layouts and algorithms, how are companies possibly able to keep up? That’s where we come in! It’s our job as social media strategists to know the ins and outs of these different social networks, and to help clients (and the companies that we work for) work through the changes.
We also develop our fortune telling skills (Oh, that paperweight? I think you mean my crystal ball?). We must predict what will work for our clients in three months, rather than relying on today’s best practices. We also help early adopters decide where the potential benefits outweigh the risks of trying something new or different in social.
Not only do the social networks change – the audiences evolve as well. With more and more people flocking to social media (72% of all internet users), it’s important to understand your audiences. You can’t just think of them as your social media audience. You have to think in terms of your Facebook audience, your Twitter audience, your Google+ audience and so on. Your social media strategists spend hours on these different social networks, and they understand these different audiences – use their knowledge while marketing your content across multiple platforms.
Social without a strategy can fail – big time
It’s not enough anymore to simply push your content out onto social media and hope for a good response. It requires a lot of effort. A successful social media strategy requires time to grow and maintain your audience, learn what they engage with, and execute based on how they operate.
Social isn’t an immediate source of revenue for companies (generally, it’s second-hand ROI). So, clients often ask me “why should I hire a social media strategist?” A presence on social media can help you build trust with your audience, and, if done correctly, turn that audience into lifelong customers.
Social drives micro conversions
Social media may not directly drive sales (at least, not always), but social is a key driver of micro conversions-actions that users take before making a purchase. These can include email list opt-ins, social follows, new visitors to your website, lead generation, etc…In essence, social media can drive users to become familiar with your brand and, hopefully, lead them to become a future customer.
In social media, you need to map out your goals, build a strong foundation, and then begin building on that foundation with a strong strategy. That’s what social media marketers do. Yes, we love to play on Facebook (and Twitter and Pinterest and…). But, we spend most of our time studying, learning and improving ways for you to grow your business using social media, so you don’t have to. That’s why you need us.