The following is an excerpt from my book: Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap Between Buyer and Seller on the Social Web…
There are many benefits to a social media marketing strategy. Here is a short list of benefits. Please add to it with your comments…Note, I do not discuss in any detail the benefits organizations might enjoy using social media internally for collaboration and productivity gains.
Low Cost. Rolling out a social media strategy is not an expensive venture. In fact, it can be done on a low budget, especially in the beginning. Many of the social media platforms you can leverage monetize themselves through advertising. Therefore, the use of many of these tools is free. The primary benefit to using social media is in the relationship value of the community you create or join. So the cost of using many social media tools is free or low. The biggest cost in the beginning of a new social media strategy is the staff’s learning curve associated with using various tools and destination social platforms.
Brand Building. I’ve previously mentioned the importance of building brand whether you’re a large company with household brand recognition or a 20-person company in a niche market. I am truly of the opinion (shared by many contemporary marketing pundits) that brand equity is the most valuable marketing asset we can achieve, regardless of the size of our company. Social media provides a platform like none other in modern history to build our brand
Staffing Advantages. You may be able to leverage existing staff, and you may not. In some situations, you can awaken a sleeping giant in your organization. I am referring to existing talent that is under utilized in a role that could be leveraged in social media. It’s not uncommon to tap into someone’s domain expertise and put it to great use in social media. Simply put, using social media gives your staff the opportunity to produce good results using contemporary tools in an enjoyable work environment. Marketing staffers who embrace social media tend to really enjoy it, especially as they begin building a personal brand. The demographics of the up and coming workers are in our favor.
Loyalty. Producing content considered useful by your community produces loyalty and can also produce viral marketing value. Loyalty is very powerful, no matter the source or the medium. It’s very common for people in online communities to pass around links to blog posts and other content they find useful. Social media community loyalty is such a valuable asset that you will ask you your accountant to find a way put it on your balance sheet.
Level Playing Field. Essentially, social media levels the playing field for most marketers. Small businesses can create loyal communities online just as large companies can, though perhaps not at the same pace or to the same extent. One of the greatest benefits to social media is the ability to leverage these communities by harnessing the power of their loyalty. A smaller company can potentially do a stellar job of building a loyal community through great content, or a great service made popular through social media. Just look at Basecamp. This small software company has a global customer base for their web based project management and collaboration software. Some of their competitors are large software companies including Microsoft. Word of mouth loyalty spreads on the social web and continues to build their customer base.
Building Trust. Companies that communicate with a human voice and build relationships online do well in social media. Companies that behave as companies don’t do as well. Social media is all about sincere conversations and building relationships. When a company hides behind a corporate voice, it alienates itself and its people, and doesn’t reap any of the potential benefits, including that all-important loyalty or trust.
Converge PR and Social Media for Viral Marketing. As social media awareness has been increasing, the role of PR has quickly been intertwined with it. Effective social media strategies can and should be part of your PR strategy. Creating content that has viral potential is at the heart of a social media PR strategy. Give your loyal community access to your news and let them be your media channel. Let your loyal community promote your news. Going viral with your news can range the gamut from exposing it to a few loyal fans to getting your news to the first page of DIGG.
Positive SEO Benefits. Another benefit of social media is the affect it can have on your organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. When you produce good content online in social platforms, you increase the possibility of attracting links to that content, which can also link to your website. In turn, those links help give your website authority to the search engines, especially Google, which places most of its ranking criteria on the link popularity of your content.
(Not So) Quantifiable Metrics. As discussed previously, some social media results can be measured quantifiably and some can’t. You can measure website visits from social media destinations and resulting leads. You can also measure (to some extent) the buzz you create in your market by things such as applications for employment, easier sales appointments, invitations to speak or guest write and other obvious improvements which don’t necessarily show up in a report or spreadsheet.
Educational. One of my favorite benefits of my involvement in social media is the ability to learn something new every day. I categorize learning in two ways: Learning and Market Intelligence. Learning occurs from listening to conversations and reading articles shared by your community. Market Intelligence involves keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your industry through social media. Both forms of education provide competitive edge and insights into customer behaviors.
The primary benefits of a social media marketing strategy can be summed up as building relationships that can bridge that gap between you (the seller) and your buyers.