Social networks are an important source of traffic for bloggers and businesses who know how to make best use of them. On the other hand, many web marketing experts have trouble getting results which justify the expenses involved. In this article, we take a look at the best practices and tactics to employ in order to extract the best results from social media.
Why have a marketing budget for social networking?
We are often asked by businesses for advice on how to improve their performance on social networks. The first question to ask (one which rarely gets a clear answer) is «why do you use social networks? ». The fact is that you cannot expect to get satisfactory results if you don’t even know why you are spending money on this in the first place. Depending on whether your aim is to improve your brand image, to generate traffic to your site, to promote the launching of a new product, or to increase your number of fans/followers, the strategy to follow varies.
Once you have a clear idea of the reasons why you want to be present on social media, in particular on Facebook (this already puts you one step ahead of your competitors), spell out your goals in terms of volume and time-frame. Even if it is hard to quantify the results you will achieve, it is still important to have clear expectations and a list of steps you plan to take to achieve your goals.
This step may seem obvious but often the results are enough to cut back on the budget and time spent by businesses who, in the end, have no real interest in using social networks.
A concrete example that says it all
A good example can sometimes work better than a long explanation, so perhaps the following will show you what we mean:
A business called “A1 Plumbing” (fictional name) wants to increase traffic to its website by using social networks, especially Facebook. They contact us and we ask them what they hope to achieve from these, and especially from Facebook. We get the classic answer: “To increase the number of visitors to our site and because Facebook is the best-known social network“.
Let’s stop for a minute and take a good look at this answer. What the business really means to say is that they want to increase the number of visitors to their site so they can increase their sales. Is this point so obvious that there’s no need to spell it out? Quite the opposite! If the aim is to increase sales, and not «simply» to generate traffic to the site, the strategy has to be selected accordingly. Starting with the choice of destination pages for adverts posted on the social networks. In fact, if you really want to improve the chances that your visits result in conversions (calls, contact forms, requests for estimates, etc.), then setting up a dedicated destination page will be more effective than just linking to your home page. Don’t forget that you should oblige your visitor to make as few clicks as possible to achieve the action you are hoping for. Your competitors are only a click away, so let’s make sure that your visitors stay with you!
Next, let’s look at the choice of social network. The default response to this is, of course, Facebook. We took as our example a plumbing firm but this point is valid for many other sectors. Facebook will not bring you visitors if your business involves plumbing, tax law, health or computer sales (I won’t list them all here). Facebook is a social network whose primary aim is to make money bring people together in groups. Therefore, if your aim is to attract new potential customers, Facebook will be of no use to you at all. I think we can safely say that when someone is looking for a plumber, a lawyer, or a doctor, they are unlikely to do so through Facebook.
“Well, what about paid advertising?”. Paid advertising may help you to increase the number of fans on your page, or even the number of visitors, but those people are very likely not looking to use your services. What’s more, Facebook users would need to have entered on their profiles that their interests include plumbing, law or medicine. Obviously, you would not be visible in the news feed of fans of Dr. House or Game of Thrones…
One last thing about paid advertising on Facebook: all social networks aim to keep their visitors on their own site. So the cost per click will be very high if you decide to direct your visitors out of Facebook rather than keeping them there (for example by directing them to your Facebook page). So look very carefully at the comparative costs of advertising on Facebook, Google, or Yahoo-Bing.
So Facebook is not, after all, automatically the best choice of social network. On the other hand, some sectors such as fashion, gastronomy, cinema, even florists (all of which have a social side to them) can achieve good results from Facebook. The same goes also for Twitter.
Quantify your results
So you have defined your objectives and launched your campaign on Facebook? Whether it is to increase your number of fans or your sales, now it is time to work out the cost per sale to make sure that it has been worth your while. Facebook provides you with an interface where you can monitor your conversions and work out your costs. For Facebook fans, all you need to do is divide the amount spent by the number of fans gained (≠ total number of fans). But on the other hand, Facebook won’t give you data on your visitors once they have left the social network. So you will have to analyze the behavior of visitors from Facebook to determine the relevance of your adverts and their destination page. If you use Google Analytics, you will find parameters can easily be set to generate reports on different sources of traffic.
As you will have seen from this article, there is no magic formula for successful advertising on social networks. It is essential to be well-organized so as to avoid wasting time (and money) from the outset. Even if it seems more appealing to go on Facebook to set up a page and invite as many contacts as you can, your performance will quickly slide if you have not got clearly-defined objectives and strategies put in place. But if you don’t TRULY have the necessary time and willingness to define the strategy, you can contact us for personalized assistance.