How SMEs can use social media to acquire new customers

71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.

– Ambassador

Facebook is capable of delivering 35x ROI (returning $9,481.50 in revenue on a total spend of $207)

– Jon Loomer

For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.

– Consultancy

Word of mouth marketing, new customer acquisition and a staggering return for every pound spent – the research snippets above go to show social media as a lucrative marketing medium to invest in. Compelling statistics indeed, but for anyone less than a marketing expert, they may seem as impressive as they turn out impossible to achieve.

Make no mistake, social media is a challenge – one that demands a laser precise strategy as to what works, and what doesn’t, and up-to-date understanding of approaches that pay dividends, and routes that will see your ROI wither away. With this in mind, here’s the fundamental starting steps to discover new customers on social media in 2017.

First things first: Where is your target market?

A rookie mistake made by wet-behind-the-ears SMEs is to take to every social platform going – logical, right? This is a serious misstep. There’s a saying in the marketing world: find out where your customers are and hang there. In short, you need to be selective with your platforms. This piece of extensive research from Pew Research should help you discover where your target customers are.

Know thy platform

As a second step, you need to appreciate which platforms are good for which forms of content. Here’s a run through of what each network lends itself well to (though to truly craft content that draws attention, shares and new customers, you’ll need to research your competitors to discover exactly what forms of content you should focus on).

LinkedIn: Industry opinion pieces; long form blog posts and pieces created to target specific LinkedIn groups relevant to your business.

Instagram: Visually striking images that are consistently in line with your brand, and quick tips or facts.

Pinterest: Cleverly categorised imagery (make sure they’re keyword optimised so you can make the most use of Pinterest’s impressive business analytics).

Twitter: Quick tips or facts; images; and hash tagged content to get in on current conversations.

Facebook: Facebook is incredibly flexible when it comes to content – images, video, blog post links and live streaming each has a role to play in an all-round marketing strategy.

Understand that this is the age of paid social advertising

Gone are the days where every follower or fan sees each update you post. Social platforms are today commercially savvier than ever before and it makes little sense for them to allow this. Instead, they’ve switched to only allowing a certain number of followers to see your posts, the upshot of which is that paid social advertising is now critical, not only for discovering new customer, but also for communicating with current followers. Take Facebook as the perfect example, your un-promoted page posts are only reaching 6.5% of your audience; or Twitter, where your tweets may reach just 5% of your followers.

Ultimately, paid social advertising is essential – but you shouldn’t feel hard done by or that your hand has been forced. There are many compelling reasons to invest in social PPC, not least is the staggeringly precise targeting that platforms such as Facebook offer (currently, you can hone in on a target market by: age, page likes, gender, location, profession, income level, education level and much more besides).

Content – Let’s start at the beginning.

There’s something you have to understand about your target market. They don’t care about your product or service, they care about their problem. If you sell baby food, your target customer is concerned with the right nutrition for their child. If you offer accountancy services, your typical client may care about their tax bill.

Content created for your blog can be an invaluable driver of traffic from social media – if (and that’s a big if) it provides value to your audience. Taking those last two examples, the retailer of baby food could offer tips for ensuring or avoiding potentially harmful foods and drinks, while the accountant could provide tips for minimising tax liabilities.

The most effective forms of content, according to Hub spot, are: how-to posts, lists, what-posts, why-posts and video tutorials. When done right, creating content demonstrates to a potential customer that you’re an expert in your field – get it right, and the follower numbers and sales will follow.

Leading on from our comments on paid social media, you could create an eBook guide – promoted by paid advertisements that lead to a page that captures an email in exchange for the download. From this, you can go on to market to these people via email marketing (social media marketing is at its most powerful when integrated into your overall marketing strategy).

Social. That’s the operative word.

Increasingly brands are becoming more inventive with their social strategies, in a bid to claim the Holy Grail of social media – interactions – real conversations that can lead onwards to conversion – to leads, purchases and upsells. Live streaming is perhaps the ultimate example of interaction – ideas for harnessing this include live webinars, q & a sessions and tutorials.

Social media marketing is certainly a challenge for the average SME, and the constant evolution of social platforms and consumer behaviour and preferences do little to help. Ultimately this guide provides you with a firm footing for those fledgling first steps in this world – and beyond this, you’ll need to value the importance of campaign analysis and keep your ear to the ground for developments.

Digital marketing agency Routes 4 Media helps ambitious businesses succeed in a world, where digital is no longer an option, it is essential. Get in touch, to see how we we can help you.