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For Social Media Marketing, Go Pro Or Go Home

Our training firm, Social Media Marketing University, recently did a survey of entrepreneurs, executives, marketing pros, and social media practitioners, and discovered this fact: 65% of those executing social media campaigns were self-taught.

What makes social media so tempting as a marketing tool for businesses is the fact that, unless you opt for paid advertising on these sites, using them is absolutely free. However, that temptation can also be a trap. Because social media can seem so easy to use, it's also easy to misuse—in ways that can backfire on your business.  

Expertise matters a great deal when you're performing any business task, and social media is no exception. Trying to feel your way through a social media campaign can potentially create a disconnect between you and your target audience.

A recent Intuit survey shows a marked contrast between what companies believe attracts consumers and what those consumers think. Most small business owners (51%) feel that wall posts are the best way to engage potential leads, while only 18% of those potential leads agree. 37%, however, say that special offers and/or discounts are what really grab their attention.   

Being an amateur in any arena causes you to make mistakes you shouldn't.  In social media, that problem is magnified by the fact that you're making your miscues in front of the whole world. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is becoming more sophisticated about Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like—and that group probably includes your competition.  

So, the next time you think about updating your status, up your marketing game as well—and consider the following three important points: 

1. Creating an effective social media overall strategy is crucial.

Here's a frightening fact (at least to a business)—two-thirds of everyone who uses social media has never, ever "followed" a brand. That indicates that companies are not giving consumers compelling reasons to be "fans" on social media sites. If you don't have a real social media plan, you won't have a consistent and engaging presence that achieves your business goals.

2. Integration is integral to social media marketing.

Statistics show that there are 4.8 billion mobile phone users, but only 4.2 billion people with a toothbrush. We're not sure what that means about dental health, but we do know that any reasonable social media strategy has to take into account all devices and platforms in existence today. Remember, desktops are dinosaurs; handhelds are hot.

3. Just showing up is just not enough.

Here's a failure fact: over 60% of marketers using social media report that it has not improved their sales in the slightest. So, if you're patting yourself on the back for setting up a nice-looking Facebook fan page, or merely managing to type out a tweet a couple times a day, you may want to think about what that activity is really bringing you at the end of the day.  

Social media marketing is no different than any other type of selling; you must focus on customer engagement and building relationships that create results and put in place the proper tools to measure your ROI. Social media is an incredible opportunity to sell yourself to literally billions of people if you invest in learning how to do it the right way.      

[Image: Flickr user Extra Medium]

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  • Get Twitter Followers

    The success or failure of one in social media marketing depends on the effort or knowledge of one in social media networks. Do something different and interesting. Don't do what all will do regularly that is what will separates you from others.

  • Guilherme

    From what I have been researching I can confidently say that social media is not different from other sciences because it's starting point is observation. Why do I consider it a science? Because to me it is nothing but human behavior. That said and explained, I do believe many people are self taught, and those who can't invest the time choose to pay for enlightenment. I spend about 4 hours daily reading about it and I agree with the points brought up in this article.

  • Andrew Mazer

    Small, "local" businesses try to jump the fundamentals of marketing by entering the social media space. There's a place for social media marketing but a good website, a basic SEO implementation, and a consistent email marketing strategy represent the "fundamentals".

  • Bcroke

    "two-thirds of everyone who uses social media has never, ever "followed" a brand. That indicates that companies are not giving consumers compelling reasons to be "fans" on social media sites." 

    I'll try and disagree politely, but your conclusion to that statistic is utterly misguided. Most people don't fan brand on social media sites because they don't give a sh*t about brands. People join social media sites to connect with other PEOPLE, brands just showed up to try and make a buck from it. 

    The only people really making money on this ordeal are the thousands of self-proclaimed "social media experts" who parrot generic advice, shallow statistics (see above article) and perpetuate the myth that social media marketing is "something" worth investing in. The one part of the article I would agree with is that if you are a business owner the only way to "get" social media is by taking part in it yourself.

    If you don't truly "get it" (and realize there's not much to get) you're more than likely lost in a sea of buzzwords overpaying for the latest snake-oil-salesmen hype about how social media is going to revolutionize your business. 

  • Richard Burns

    The fact is 100% of all Social Media is self taught.

    Regardless of whether you were taught the basics of social media by another social media professional or started on your own, EVERY person and account is different and its trial and error to build your voice and community.

  • Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

    Some very interesting and compelling information in this that makes me realize just how little I really know about social media...even though I will be teaching a new course at Curry College called "Social Media Communication" in the fall. Lot of learning to do before then!