There are three times during the year that I step back and spend some time evaluating my social media marketing efforts. One is right at the beginning of the year. I always have high hopes to do this in the first few weeks of January but as the saying goes, the best laid plans… The next is May which is roughly a third of the way into the year and once more in September.
When May came around this year I decided to document some of the steps I take to evaluate my social media marketing health so to speak. These will change from year to year as the tools of the industry change so plan on doing a little pre-evaluation research each year to make sure you are keeping up with trends and the ever changing landscape of social media.
I will be using results shared via the 6th annual social media marketing industry report. You can download the entire report from the link at the end of this post. Here are the gauges that I used this May to evaluate the state of my social media:
No surprise here. This point of view has been on the rise steadily since the beginning of social media and continues to be a cornerstone of content marketing. With the introduction of platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and even Google+ it has gained popularity in leaps and bounds. What has become more prevalent however is the use of both audio and video in the visual arena. While social media has always recognized and rewarded rich content it is now critical. It is by far the main advantage that social media has over marketing channels.
Facebook advertising is a must:
Gone are the days of unlimited organic reach on Facebook. It was a great ride while it lasted but if you want to be effective or even noticed on Facebook you will have to pay. When Facebook first introduced “paid” advertising it was a extremely cost effective way to really get the jump on your competition. As marketers and businesses began to see the advantage of Facebook advertising and increased their budgets according, Facebook took notice and like any good free market company they used it to their advantage. I personally have no problem with the paid advertising model that Facebook is using and that others are sure to follow. It helped to weed out the players from the dabblers. Accordingly Facebook advertising has become more sophisticated, targeted and effective. If you have not spent time learning the new tools that Facebook has added to their advertising tool box you should do so, it is well worth it.
I have been telling my clients for the last 3 years that although Google+ may not appear to be a significant player in the social media arena, you ignore it to your own detriment. The primary reason Google+ is important is due to the general understanding that Google+ presents unique opportunities for building your online identity and authority.
If you have not heard of Google+ recently change in leadership, well you might be living under a rock but that aside this change has some questioning its future. Let’s be clear about one thing: All of the social networks should be considered “rented land.” So, be sure you are building an online presence on a site you own and control. When it comes to Google+, I’m confident of two things. The nature of Google+ will change just as the other networks will. However, there is no question Google+ will survive as a resource for growing your business. Why? Google is in the content business, and social provides valuable context that adds value to that content. This is why Google co-founder Sergey Brin took over the CEO role at Google in 2011 to focus specifically on social search.
Email Marketing is alive, thriving and the preferred tool for sales conversion:
If you think of social media in the same terms of the “circle of life” you begin to understand how email marketing plays a critical role in your content marketing circle of life. The majority of leading marketers name their email newsletter as their number one sales conversion tool. This is why everything else is designed to drive subscriptions to it. Podcasts are great for getting information out to the masses especially if they are free, but you will find statically that they very rarely convert. On the other hand email, good email does convert. Now it has to provide inherently great value for it to convert, after all subscribers want and deserve your very best. If you consistently honor that, conversion becomes a natural by-product of the ongoing conversation.
Podcasting the great differentiator:
Serious marketers are getting into podcasting so if you consider yourself a serious marketer read on. Podcasting is on the rise for a variety of reasons, with one of them being that its much easier for audio content to stand out because there is far less of it available than other formats. On a practical level, every person you interview for your podcast becomes a willing marketing partner, at least for that show. Podcasting is also a great way to meet other industry leaders as you effectively collaborate to help each other. Probably the best reason for creating audio content is that it tends to be more personal. Think of it as the future of talk radio. Your personality will naturally emerge as you communicate your message to your audience that is giving (nearly) their full attention as they commute, exercise, or just pass the time.
That is my process in a nutshell, now as promised, here is where you can download the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Check it out, as there is a whole lot more to learn about the myriad questions that small business marketers share.