Integrating Social Media into Your Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing continues to be a growing trend in 2019. Although direct sales and more traditional marketing still has its place in any company’s content strategy, modern consumers want more.
Statistics show buyers respond better to compelling content in the form of shareable videos, interactivity, and social media. Many larger brands have already made strong social media personas part of their content strategy, sometimes with remarkable results.
Social media is a powerful, necessary addition to any ad campaign or marketing plan. If you don’t have a social media strategy, you’re potentially missing out on a huge chunk of the market.
Why It’s Necessary
Why should you make social media a part of your marketing campaign? Because for many consumers, social media is the internet now. Content hubs, blogs, and networks, though still viable, just aren’t what they used to be. Social media provides reach, drives traffic, boosts SEO, and builds your brand. Although search has recently overtaken social as a main source of traffic, the gap is still quite narrow.
Why It Works
Why is social media such an integral part of your marketing strategy? Because social media is a form of permission marketing. Today’s consumers are often aware of, and resistant to, traditional marketing methods. Putting ads in front of users is often not enough anymore — many users are either used to ignoring them, or block them altogether.
Social media allows for an avenue to engage directly with the consumer not as a marketer, but as a trusted entity who provides knowledge, amusement, or valuable information. A company that puts respect and courtesy first in engaging with consumers — in other words, getting the buyer’s permission to market to them — may get much better results than more traditional marketing methods.
So how can you best integrate social media into your marketing efforts?
The most important (and challenging) aspect of creating a solid social media strategy: creating relevant, relatable, shareable content. This is much easier said than done. Every social media user, whether they’re a customer or a marketer, has probably seen that video ad that falls flat or gets savagely ratioed instead of the positive shares the creators were hoping for. No company wants to get famous for committing a social media faux pas or instigating a marketing nightmare.
The good news is, social media can be the solution to its own problem. Social media is one of the most direct avenues for customer feedback there is — if someone has an idea, complaint, or request, they will let you know, publicly and sometimes loudly.
This is not only an opportunity to engage directly with customers and show them you care (we’ll get to that in a moment), but also to mine those ideas, requests, and complaints for content ideas. Review sites, other online communities, and the social media accounts of your competitors can also be valuable resources for inspiration. As resources go, your own customers are a much richer and more reliable resource for ideas than an idea generator.
Another strategy for creating relevant content is to watch trends, hashtags, Twitter games, and other popular social media phenomena from which to draw inspiration. This can be a fine line to walk, as companies who are perceived as jumping in on a trend without fully understanding the environment can easily open themselves up to mockery. It takes a nuanced touch and someone with powerful marketing skills to do the job right. If you don’t have someone with that skill set, consider investing in the education necessary to get yourself (or your employees) there. It will be well worth it in the long run.
Build Trust and Authority
Another valuable aspect of integrating social media into your marketing efforts: a chance to show authenticity, build trust, and create a rapport with buyers.
Meaningful content creation is the first step to building engage with customers. But replying positively to feedback, talking with customers, and building rapport can do wonders for your brand. This sort of authentic engagement builds trust between your company and the customers, and, if you play your cards right, can even get buyers clamoring for your attention.
This sort of engagement is also a chance to build authority with customers, a vital part of creating (and maintaining) that trust. Helpful, informative content is the beginning of this cycle, but engaging meaningfully with customer feedback is what will bring the ROI to your content creation efforts.
This, too, can be something of a balancing act — customers can respond poorly to a company they feel is being opportunistic, insincere, or just trying too hard. Users can control the content they consume more than any other time in history, and smart marketers understand this.
Innovate and Adapt
Finally, accept that failures will happen. That’s just a fact of any marketing effort. What’s important is to learn from those failures, keep an eye on your reputation, and glean insights from your mistakes. One of the major perks of social media is audiences will, in many cases, tell you exactly how and why you failed — perhaps not politely, but that makes those insights no less valuable.