Why social advertising makes sense

Digital marketing is fast becoming the dominant frontier in marketing, attracting more advertising dollars every year. And within the world of digital marketing, social media marketing is one of the fastest-growing elements.

Although more than 95 per cent of businesses admit to having some kind of social media marketing campaign underway, only 85 per cent say that they understand the benefits. So what are the benefits of social media marketing compared to say, traditional advertising, Adwords, and Bing?

Benefit #1: Improved Customer Understanding

Traditional advertisers and Adword users rely on proxy measures to understand customers. TV advertisers, for instance, depend on ratings to calculate the effectiveness of their commercials. Likewise, businesses using Adwords can only tinker with advertising messages and phrases that appear in search results. Other than that, their ability to interact with customers is limited.

But social media is different. Unlike other modes of advertising, it allows companies to communicate directly with customers and ask them outright what they want. Thanks to walls and message boards, companies can interact with customers one-on-one, dealing with questions and issues as they arise.

Firms can also collect real-time data on customer interests. Being able to see what is popular, sharable and likable helps direct companies to create compelling content for their customers.

Benefit #2: Boost Conversion Rates

While traditional marketing, such as PPC has proven effectiveness, social media marketing may be able to boost conversion rates while also creating more sustainable relationships with customers. Marketers know that people prefer to buy from people, not companies. So companies that post blogs and comments, and send messages to their customers take on a more human character. Customers see firms on social media less as monolithic corporations and more as partners helping them to get the services they want.

Research from Hubspot shows that social media marketing is much more effective than outbound marketing techniques, like Adwords and Bing advertising, for generating conversions. Social media may be up to 100 per cent better than regular marketing channels for closing leads.

Why conversion rates are so much higher through social media is not yet fully understood. But marketers think that it has to do with trust: when you present yourself to customers on a personal level, you force them to abandon their preconceived notions about your company. Social media allows you to connect with customers, their friends, and their families, all of which you can leverage to increase sales.

Benefit #3: Improve Search Engine Ranking

Search engines, like Bing, Duckduckgo and Google include social media pages in their search results, especially if they are popular. Okay, so having social media pages don’t directly boost search results, but they can help you get onto the first page for specific keywords if your regular site is new or flagging. Links to popular social media pages can boost the overall rank of website pages.

Benefit #4: Improve Brand Authority

In general, people buy from companies that they trust, but building it can be difficult. Traditionally, companies generated trust by bombarding customers with the same symbols and jingles over and over again until they became part of the landscape. Without targeted, one-on-one advertising, the only way to build brand authority was to breed familiarity. It was an expensive, inefficient, and time-consuming process.

Today’s companies, however, don’t have to spend thousands of dollars per month on advertising to become thought leaders. Social media provides a much-needed shortcut.

Social media can help your brand develop authority in several ways:

  • Posting informative articles. Your customers want to see two things in your articles: one, that you know what you’re talking about and, two, that you can solve their problems. People want firms who can take away their pain. The aim of your articles should, therefore, be to demonstrate your capability as a firm and solve customer issues. You could provide a range of content, from how-to videos to original research. You could also provide helpful guides and tutorials.
  • Providing personalised services. Customers want you to treat them as individuals - they don’t want to feel like pawns being processed through a giant customer services apparatus. Social media can help your company deliver a personalised service by giving out bespoke advice and troubleshooting through messenger services to individual customers.
  • Getting customer shares. No matter how good you are at what you do, or how sincere you are in your advertising, customers will never trust you as much as they trust other customers. Although things can go wrong if you don’t perform, companies can leverage happy customers on social media to develop their brand authority. Satisfied customers are often willing to share their experience of your firm with their peers who, in turn, are much more likely to show an interest in your products. Gaining mentions across social media boosts your profile instantly.

Benefit #5: Social Media Marketing Is Cost-Effective

Although email marketing generates the most return per dollar spent of any advertising method according to companies in an Econsultancy survey, social media marketing doesn’t come far behind.

Social media marketing tends to do well for many reasons. For starters, it’s free to set up an account on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (for B2B). But it also has proven useful for boosting conversions. According to data from Social Media Today, 4.3 per cent of Facebook users, and 2.3 per cent of those on Twitter clicked through to a company’s website after visiting its social media page.

Of course, the amount that you spend on social media advertising depends on the needs of your firm. Some companies generate such interesting content on social media that people automatically subscribe to their accounts, getting updates in their feeds. Others, though, without an effective content strategy could struggle.

Social media marketing is a little bit like search. You can either choose to build things up slowly through organic measures or purchase advertising space. The most cost-effective long-term approach is to build your social media account from the ground up, but this can take a lot of time, especially to produce bespoke content. Once your content strategy is well-defined, you can quickly get an edge on your competitors.

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