Social Media: Getting the Most from Your Efforts
Without goals and a method of measurement, how will you know if your business is getting a return on its investment in social media marketing?
By Angie Kilbourne, AAM
It’s common today for just about every business to employ any one or more of the social media sites to boost marketing efforts. Google+ groups, Facebook pages, Twitter microblogging and LinkedIn profiles are, more often than not, the standard rather than the exception for businesses large and small.
But incorporating social media marketing efforts can be more challenging to automotive repair and service shops. It’s difficult to justify taking the time out of an already busy day to “chat” or post online, and many small businesses simply opt out of social media marketing because they don’t see a return on their investments.
And that’s precisely why it is crucial to treat social media like any other marketing program: You need to have a plan, and you need to measure the results. Most failures related to a social marketing program can be directly tied to the lack of one of those two components. So let’s take a closer look at these two critical pieces to social marketing success.
It’s all in the plan
The foundation to any marketing strategy is its plan, but too many businesses jump into social media without really understanding what they want to accomplish or how they intend to get there. The first – and likely the most important – step of that plan is unfortunately one that’s usually overlooked: setting goals.
An absence of goals leaves you with little beyond hope. Without clearly defined objectives, how will you know if your efforts are working or not? Without goals, how will you know if you are investing resources in the right places? It is paramount that you know where your marketing efforts need to take your business – not “hoping” those efforts will pay off.
Goals don’t have to be intricate or lofty, but they should be measurable. They can and should be simple statements of what you’d like to happen as a result of your hard work, such as:
It’s not difficult to find something you’d like to improve. Take the case of ASA member Diane Larson, AAM, owner of Larson’s Quality Automotive Service in Peabody, Mass. “My main goal was to increase SEO [search engine optimization] of our website and keep the name on the first search page – knowing that consumers are not going to go any further. I don’t look at any company that’s not on the first page,” she told us.
It helps to be specific, but Nagy’s Collision Specialists in Orrville, Ohio, took a different approach when setting goals: “When we started, we just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have to explain to them (the consumer) what Nagy’s was,” said Maria Hostetler, marketing and public relations director at Nagy’s. “And I think we’re doing a pretty good job – keeping our name fresh in everybody’s mind because, obviously, our industry is not something people are going out looking for.
“They’re not going to call us until they need us. As long as we keep our posts up on Facebook and all the other social media sites, when the time comes that they are in an accident, more than likely they’ve maybe seen us or heard about us at some point in the day. And that day they have an accident, they’re going to think about us.”
When you are setting up your plan, remember to keep your target group in focus, and be sure to provide adequate money and other resources – and a patient timeline – to execute the program.
“If your Facebook page and your social media isn’t working for you, find someone else to do it for you. Maybe there’s someone in your organization that loves it, or else find a company to do it for you. If you don’t enjoy doing it, find someone else that does because it certainly works,” Larson acknowledged.
Yardstick vs. Micrometer
Planning is necessary, but results are what you’re looking for. Realizing a return on your investment of time and resources is the point of this exercise, right? This point is critical for a successful social marketing program because if you aren’t measuring, you have no idea what’s working and no idea what you should be doing more of.
Hostetler meets with her team quarterly to review their progress: “We’ll bring in our analytics and pull up Facebook and check out the statistics there, going over what’s working, what’s not working, and taking a look at, ‘Did we engage users on this post or that post?’ Then, looking at the numbers, we say, ‘What do we need to do moving forward?’
“And that’s really worked for us. Being able to have the analytics and the stats from Facebook in front of you, that definitely helps.
“Our plan is making sure we’re posting what we need to post and reaching the people we need to reach.”
One metric you should be looking at is audience engagement. Are your conversations, comments and posts being “Liked,” retweeted/shared or replied to? Are the links provided being clicked? Which posts are garnering bigger engagement than others? What are the demographics – ages, languages, regions – of your engaged users?
Then it’s time to turn to conversion stats: What is your audience doing as a result of these conversations? Are they providing reviews, recommendations and feedback? Are new customers coming through the door as a result of what they saw?
“How do I measure this? Do I have facts and figures? We do,” said Larson. “I can go print out a report for you right now of who new customers are, who Internet customers are, who found us through a referral. So yes, I do have that availability on any new clients coming in. I know who’s coming in through phone calls – “Where did you find us?” On the Internet. I read your reviews.
There are tomes of information available to anyone on actually launching a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed or any other social media account. The sites themselves have great tutorials on setting up an account and getting started, and signing up is free. In other words, getting your social media marketing efforts off the ground involve a commitment of time – to research, develop, create and continuing to assess your progress.
So now, it’s up to you to get that social marketing plan in place: Outline your goals, set milestones and measure your results. Be patient with the process; results take time. Oh, and don’t forget to have some fun. Social media is designed to be just that – social.
It Starts With a Plan
Your social media marketing strategy needs to include:
Tools to Implement
There are plenty of social media tools to use – both free and for-fee – and plenty of ways to analyze the data. Here are just a few ways to help organize your efforts:
Cash In on Your ASA Benefits
ASA members have a special advantage over their competition when it comes to resources and tools designed to boost your social marketing efforts. ASA member benefit providers that offer social marketing tools include:
Log in to the ASA Marketplace at ASA.bizunite.com to learn more about these exclusive member benefits.
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