If you're a small business owner, chances are you've been told time and again that you absolutely need to be on social media. People spend, on average, 2 hours per day interacting with some form of social media -- and that's time when your business could be advertising to them. It's a valid point, but how exactly do you effectively leverage social media within your marketing strategy?
Value proposition of social media
Just in case you want to hear this tired old speech again (and if not, please feel free to skip ahead), tapping in to social media can greatly expand the reach of your marketing campaign with relatively little effort. According to recent estimates, Facebook just hit over 1.9 billion monthly users; of those users, 1.28 billion visit Facebook daily. Instagram and Twitter boast similarly mind-boggling user bases at 700 million and 328 million, respectively. Couple this with the fact that advertising on social media can be highly targeted, and you've got what looks like a great opportunity.
So how do get the best bang for your buck with social media?
Yes, you can start effective marketing campaigns on Facebook. Even for someone uneducated in marketing, Facebook makes it simple to get your ads out in front of the right people. The amount of conversions that your ad campaigns will yield is, of course, strongly dependent on your product or industry.
But there's a second, often overlooked opportunity on social media: unlike other advertising platforms, you've got a chance to start a conversation with your customers. This is especially important with millennials, who place a high value on user-generated content. Just think back to your viral tweet/post/instasnap of choice for proof.
"The best social marketing is not publishing itself, but inspiring others to publish content about them."
-Anna Kassowaym, Crowdtap Chief Marketing Officer
Madewell, a women's clothing company, staged what they called a "Flashtagram" campaign in 2014. It was a simple concept: the company identity is focused strongly on denim, so they gathered together Madewell employees, bloggers, and editors from well-known publications and...took pictures of denim jeans. Sounds a bit silly, right? Well, that campaign netted them 1,600 posts to #denimmadewell, 160,000 likes, and 8.5 million impressions overall (and they only had 151,000 followers at the time). Did we mention the entire Flashtagram phenomena cost them little more than a few pairs of gifted jeans?
Lululemon, the well known athletic wear company, started a #TheSweatLife campaign in 2013, soliciting their customers for photos of them "getting their sweat on". As unappealing as that sounds, #TheSweatLife was used 250,000 times, over 7,000 photos were submitted via Twitter and Instagram, and more than 40,000 unique visitors dropped by the campaign's dedicated website.
Promoting user-generated content is an effective (and cheap) addition to your marketing strategy
You're probably thinking, "Well, yeah, but I'm not Lululemon or Madewell. On a good day, I have 1,000 Twitter followers, not 100,000."
Well, good news -- you don't need to be! The great thing about user-generated content is that it's dirt cheap. It doesn't require a thousands-strong army of marketing gurus, just a nifty idea and the willingness to share it. If it pans, you've lost nothing but a bit of time and some pride; as a small business owner, that's probably a familiar feeling that you'll shrug off before trying it again.
This strategy fits particularly well in the real estate industry. Real estate agents and Realtors are, by and large, personable people who thrive on exactly the sort of social engagement that's needed for an effective user-generated content advertising campaign.
When you incorporate user-generated content into your marketing strategy, you're not only reaching more people -- you're reaching them in more meaningful ways. Whatever #UserGenerated content you encourage, it'll definitely stick with your audience more than that Facebook ad they scrolled past 5 minutes ago.
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