Posted October 2, 2012 by guest

Social media marketing presents a tricky paradox: everybody knows they need to be doing it, but very few people know how to do it right. That’s because it’s extremely difficult to determine the return on investment of social media marketing, which is why gurus in the space frequently rely on words like “engagement” and “driving conversations” instead of “sales” (warning: I’ll be using these terms too, but in their proper context).

So why bother? Because the hype around social media is mostly justified. A new Nielsen’s report shows that people spend close to a quarter of all of their online time on social networks, and this number is expected to grow as more users and functionality are added to the social web. Some have even said that social networks, and the relationships embedded within them, present an alternative to the “traditional” web, and will eventually supplant search engines like Google as the central hub for finding information. For better or worse, social media will only continue to grow in importance in the near future.

Here’s a guide to getting started with social media marketing:

Facebook

The most revolutionary thing about Facebook is not how it lets people share their pictures or stay in touch online—other companies have been doing that for years. The truly innovative part of Facebook is the sheer wealth of information it provides advertisers. From locations visited to Pages Liked, favorite bands to favorite TV shows, Facebook allows you to target your ads based on incredibly specific variables. If you only want your ads to reach 36-50 year-old women who like to watch The Dr. Oz Show and live in St. Louis, Facebook Ads will let you do just that. Facebook also allows you to buy ads on a CPC (cost per click) in addition to CPM (cost per mille) basis, which means you have the option to pay just for the ads that get clicked.

Another Facebook advertising option is Sponsored Stories, which helps you acquire more fans for your brand’s Facebook Page by leveraging social proof—the Sponsored Story will show people which of their friends have already Liked your Page and encourage them to follow suit. It may not directly result in sales, but it can drive more engagement to your company’s social profile and improve your brand’s overall visibility.

LinkedIn

Thanks to its wealth of demographic and interest data, Facebook is the clear choice for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. But what about business-to-business (B2B) marketing?

LinkedIn Ads allow you to target people by more professional criteria, such as job title, industry, company size, and seniority. This means you can put your ads in front of the people who are most likely to be decision-makers and influencers at their respective organizations, which can potentially yield big gains for your business. While LinkedIn’s user base may be only a fraction of Facebook’s (120 million vs. 800 million), the site’s orientation towards adult professionals may make it a more worthwhile advertising platform. Like Facebook, LinkedIn’s ads can be purchased on either a CPC or CPM basis, and there’s no minimum time commitment required to begin a campaign.

Twitter

Twitter has been slow to roll out advertising, and some of its advertising features are still restricted to big brands and are inaccessible to small and medium-sized businesses. Nonetheless, Twitter has shown promise as a platform for building brand awareness and viral buzz in a relatively short period of time.
Here’s a rundown of Twitter’s marketing offerings:

  • Promoted Tweets: Promoted Tweets make your tweets appear at the top of search results, or at the top of specific influencer’s timelines. The message will seem just like a normal tweet, except for some subtle text at the bottom which will indicate that the tweet was promoted by your brand.
  • Promoted Trends: Attracting attention to a single tweet is nice, but what if you wanted to start an ongoing conversation around the topic of your choosing? In that case, the Promoted Trend would be your best bet. Instead of promoting an individual tweet, you can promote an entire hashtag and have it appear next to user’s timelines. With skill and some luck, you may be able to spark an ongoing discussion around your hashtag and generate some serious word-of-mouth buzz in under 48 hours.
  • Promoted Accounts: What if you want to stand out on Twitter, but you don’t have any specific content in mind that you’d like to highlight? Promoted Accounts help you acquire more followers and expand the reach of your messages by placing your account in the “Who to Follow” list of people who are most likely to be interested in your account’s contents.

The three major social networks offer different tools for different marketing objectives. Facebook is good for stoking and nurturing consumers’engagementwith your brand and targeting ads to people based on their interests. LinkedIn is the logical choice for companies that are in the B2B space and are more concerned with reaching out to the right people than just attracting a lot of attention online. Twitter marketing, though still in its infancy, shows promise for brands that wish to have their messages stand out in the endless stream of chatter and provoke word-of-mouth buzz in the process. Developing a clear sense of your objectives can help ensure that you’re using the right tools for the job, which will allow you to create a coherent social media marketing plan that will provide tangible results for your company and your brand.


This post is from Hafez Adel, Marketing Associate at ReTargeter, a self-serve advertising solution that provides retargeting to brands of all sizes.

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