By now, most of us are aware of the term social media marketing, but how many of us really know what it means and how to use it? The word “social” is a big clue that is often being overlooked. Social media marketing is meant to engage people in conversation and conversations need to be two-sided. The term “inbound marketing” is also heard very often these days in relation to social media marketing. But what does it mean?
Inbound marketing is the art of drawing your audience (and potential customers) to you through the use of social media platforms such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and so on. How do you draw your audience in? You provide relevant content, information, how-to’s, and cite examples that are in line with your point of view on a given topic, based on your product and/or services. Your goal should be to provide the answer in anticipation of the question. The objective of social media marketing is to start a two-way dialog, to relate to the needs of your audience and to provide information about a benefit or solution. In this way, your audience responds to you, appreciates the communication you offer, and looks to you to provide additional information, benefits or solutions.
So, when you combine social media marketing with inbound marketing, the result should be a Tweet that gives tips on how to refinish a dresser (if you are a used furniture store) or a Facebook post about the benefits of reducing salt in your diet (if you are a nutritionist) or a blog about how to structure a successful email campaign (if you are a marketing consultant). It should not be a tweet to “get 10% off everything in the store” or a post that states “we have the best prices on laptops in town”. If you’re doing that, all you are really doing is using traditional outbound marketing techniques via a social media platform. This is not to say that you should never promote a product or a service in your communications, but you should take care to do it on a limited basis and only after you have developed a conversation with your audience. If you first build a rapport and provide valuable content and information, you will be able to draw your audience to your website, to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, to recommend your product or services to a friend, and ultimately to build your client base and make a sale.
If instead you choose to constantly “hawk” your products or services via social media, don’t be surprised to find that you’ve been “unfollowed”, “unsubscribed” or otherwise “tuned out” just like someone changing the channel on a TV to avoid a commercial.