Visual communication and personal interaction are today's marketing workhorses. Online networking sites merge these two objectives, giving entrepreneurs a new bridge to reach consumers—a bridge that brings power to marketing techniques.
Social media sites can help boost sales numbers because they allow entrepreneurs to tap into their target market's virtual hangout spots.
Surveys indicate social media produces almost twice the number of marketing leads than do trade shows, telemarketing and other traditional marketing platforms. What's more, as much as 75 percent to 80 percent of social media users rely on their networking sites to find and share information about purchase decisions.
Let's take a look at three of the most powerful social media sites that could help you boost your marketing potential.
Facebook has more than a billion users worldwide, and page ranker Alexa.com positions the social networking giant as the second most-visited site on the Web, behind Google. This suggests Facebook holds a lot of potential as a marketing channel.
While some suggest Facebook's value as a marketing channel is either moderately positive or sadly falling short, social media strategist Amy Porterfield believes in the power of Facebook.
Every day, two billion posts are liked and commented on, and entrepreneurs are getting staggering results using Facebook to grow their businesses
More than 71 percent of the U.S. Web audience uses Facebook, she notes. Nowhere else on the planet can you capture such a massive audience. Every day, 2 billion posts are liked and commented on, and entrepreneurs are getting staggering results using Facebook to grow their businesses.
As long as you understand how to use it productively, advertising through Facebook can boost your conversion rates. Some tricks to effective campaigns include knowing what clicks with your target market, creating headlines that grab attention and developing a strong call to action.
"Massive exposure, quality traffic, qualified leads—it all leads to a lot of sales and lifetime customers for anyone who knows how to use it well," Porterfield says.
On the other hand, Nate Elliott, principal analyst at Forrester Research, recently reported that Facebook is not living up to its marketing potential.
While Facebook received an average 3.54 ranking out of 5 in terms of "business value," the 395 marketers who were surveyed placed Facebook at the very bottom of the list of 13 popular marketing channels.
"You'd expect a site boasting the largest audience and the biggest collection of data to fare well, but we found that Facebook offered less value than anything else on our list," Elliott reports.
Pinterest boasts 70 million users and growing, with an Alexa page rank of 29 globally, and 12 in the U.S.
Pinterest is a different animal, says Melanie Duncan, an entrepreneur and business mentor. Pinterest users spend more on follow-through purchases than Facebook and Twitter users combined, and 80 percent of the top categories on Pinterest are connected to commerce.
Duncan likens Facebook to a great restaurant or other hangout spot where friends catch up with each other. Pinterest, on the other hand, is like a really cool mall with a bunch of great boutiques, she says.
When people come to Pinterest, they're in more of a shopping or discovery mode, which lends them to buying more
"It's a place where people are engaging with products and services," Duncan says. "So when people come to Pinterest, they're in more of a shopping or discovery mode, which lends them to buying more."
What makes Pinterest so powerful is its visual content, and most users go to the social shopping platform to get inspiration on what to buy, she adds.
To make Pinterest work for your business, you have to create content that your target market finds valuable. If you host a blog, post relevant infographics, checklists, tutorials and videos that can be pinned by your audience.
If your site is strictly e-commerce, you'll need to go where your customers are and engage with them. In this case, that's Pinterest. Build a page that's strictly for your business and keep your boards and pins relevant to what you're marketing.
Stay up to date on Pinterest's most popular categories, and create a connection between those top categories and your product and target market. The top categories usually deal with fashion, hobbies, recipes and commerce products.
Twitter has more than a half-billion active users on its site, and ranks 11th globally, and 9th in the U.S. If Facebook is a hangout spot and Pinterest is a mall of boutiques, then Twitter is a gossip vine.
More than half of the population's consumers use Twitter to recommend companies or products, and many of those recommendations stream through feeds because people ask for advice
More than half of the population's consumers use Twitter to recommend companies or products, and many of those recommendations stream through feeds because people ask for advice.
"The power of Twitter in marketing your business is phenomenal," notes eBay seller bugonservices.
Not only are consumers talking about your company free of charge, but many businesses use the arena to increase brand awareness, interact with customers and promote updates on listings, sales, blogs posts and more.
Twitter is one of the best ways to communicate with customers, bugsonservices says. It's a simple, inexpensive platform where millions congregate every day. The eBay seller believes Twitter is also effective to solicit feedback from customers and discover what they're looking for.
To make Twitter work for you, follow some of these tips.
- Make sure your bio quickly and clearly tells your audience what your business is about. Try to avoid the vague generalities that every seller says about themselves, namely that they are great shippers and strive for customer satisfaction.
- Since you're limited to only 140 characters, use the short space to create eye-catching headlines or engaging content.
- Talk about things people will want to share, but are also relevant to your target market. Share information that is entertaining or might satisfy your customers' curiosity.
- Show a little of your personality, and interact with your customers by asking questions.
- Boost your website's search ranking by posting links to your blog content and sales listings.
A new workhorse
Perhaps social media is worthy of our attention because the marketing opportunities it affords are, in the big picture, a new and evolving workhorse. On one hand, traditional advertising methods have positive track records. On the other hand, consumers learn to tune out those techniques they've been exposed to for decades.
Today, entrepreneurs are laying new foundations for advertising methods that reach our Web community. Marketing on popular networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter challenge us to be both creative and interactive, allowing us to develop new techniques that produce results.