Social media will become one of the dominant customer engagement tools in the next three to five years, according to an IBM survey of more than 1700 global CEOs released last year.
Although only 16% of those surveyed currently engage customers through social media, 57% anticipate doing so in the few years, a proportion that places the channel behind only face-to-face methods of interaction (67%), and ahead of websites (55%) and call centres (31%).
Customer engagement and insights are the main benefits of social media marketing. Take Facebook. Unlike other advertising mediums, it gives your business an opportunity to find people to interact with because THEY, not you, have invited you to interact with them.
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For business to business web traffic, social media accounted for five per cent of leads in 2012, per results from an Optify study. Comparing the largest players within the social media space, Facebook was the dominant driver of site visits, at a majority 54% share, followed by Twitter (32%) and LinkedIn (14%). But, when it came to leads, Twitter was far and away the most important social media source, generating 82% share of leads, compared to just 9% each for Facebook and LinkedIn.
Twitter not only was best for generating leads, but it also showed the highest conversion rates. Compared to the 1.22 per cent average for social media, Twitter had a 78 per cent higher conversion rate at 2.17 per cent.
The researchers note that companies with more than one lead or more than 10 visits per month from social media saw relatively high conversion rates and engagement rates, but that the percentage of companies who saw such results was low, indicating everyone is still learning how to harness the opportunity.
All of which equals marketing and sales if you’re willing to spend some time developing your social media strategy. Can you remember the last time you updated your website? Are you using social media to interact with customers and prospects? If you’ve answered ‘No’ to either of these questions, then opportunities await. Similarly if you’re still using your website as an online brochure. Customers love it when businesses make their lives easy – how many can you encourage to order online?
Embracing digital marketing is not as simple as ‘build it and they will come’. B2B conversations via social media require commitment. Content is king – if you don’t have time and resources to develop content and plan your approach, then you will definitely need to ask for support.
Planning, with specific, measurable goals, is crucial. It’s not enough to target 2000 likes on Facebook, or 900 Twitter followers. What are you going to do with the interest? How are you going to prove yourself worthy of staying in their news feed? And what are your intentions when it comes to converting all these likes and followers into paying customers?