If your brand isn’t on social media, you’ve gone and shot yourself in the foot. Or chopped a lump out of your potential leads. Your customers and their grannies are now on one platform or another—so why aren’t you there with them?

Brands, especially in the digital field, live and die by the amount of eyeballs that land on their site. But is social media marketing really all it’s cracked up to be?

Quick answer: yes. And I’m not just saying that because I work in Content Marketing!

I could hit you with facts all day, but let’s start by looking at a couple of campaigns that blew up, two recent and one old favourite.

3 brilliant social media marketing campaigns

Honda’s Pintermission

All the way back in 2013, Pinterest was a budding social platform for mammies and dedicated DIYers. But Honda saw the potential for a wider audience and launched the Pintermission campaign. Honda reached out to five influential pinners and gave them a mission—if they chose to accept it.

The pinners had 24 hours and $500 to bring one of their boards to life. The pinners took on the challenge and pinned the dedicated campaign poster to their boards too.

Honda reached 4.6 million people and were featured in traditional media around the globe. Not bad for a couple of grand.

Mercedes’ Instagram showroom

How do you market to millennials in a way they haven’t seen before? You Instagram it of course. Using a very in-depth tagging system and dozens of accounts, Mercedes created a virtual showroom where users could navigate through the many dedicated Instagram accounts to design a Mercedes-Benz GLA, customising everything from colour to the roof.

Ready to build a car on Instagram?

A photo posted by @gla_build_your_own on

No doubt a detailed campaign to implement, it would have cost Mercedes little beyond man power. IKEA actually ran a similar campaign, where they put their catalogue on Instagram too.

Ruby and Duke’s hyper-targeted Facebook success

Niall Harbison—Mr Lovin Dublin—has strayed into pet territory with his personalised doggie boxes. The company has exploded over the last few months and that’s down to two things:

1. BowWow Times – the sister site, and a doggie Buzzfeed that creates multiple articles about our canine pals a day.

2. Hyper-targeted Facebook ads – the R&D and BowWow Times teams have been very wisely spending their Facebook budget to earn cheap clicks and 200,000 likes on Facebook. Without Facebook, the company wouldn’t have taken off nearly so well.

But were these successes a flash in the pan?

Nope. There are hundreds of great campaigns running all the time, and the examples above show that you don’t need a massive budget to succeed. There’s a reason all the big brands are on social media!

But what are the real pros and cons of social media marketing?

The pros

1. You’ll increase inbound traffic

Do it right, and your social media will drive traffic back to your site. The golden ‘formula’ for social is the 5-3-2 rule. Out of ten updates, 5 should be curated content, 3 should be your own content, and 2 should be personal, non-work related updates to show the human/team behind the brand.

It’s not a golden ratio, but it’s not far off it. A site that only posts outbound content or sales pitches won’t see much traffic, but do it right and you’ll see your referral and conversion stats start to rise.

woman, hands, nailpolish, iphone, screen, picture, image, tech

2. You’ll increase brand awareness

One of the big strengths of social media is how present it is, especially given how much time we spend on our phones. We check our phones dozens of times a day, and many of those times we go straight to Facebook or Twitter.

Social media is always on, and every time a brand posts something, there’s an audience there to see it. Yes, Facebook has killed off organic reach, but the likes of Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are viable platforms for organic reach.

And that doesn’t mean you should rule out paid social. If you have a budget, paid social can do massive things for your brand. Where else can you reach a thousand-strong targeted audience without having to spend crazy money?

3. You’ll build customer loyalty

Engage with customers, answer their questions, create and share useful content, and give your customers insight into your brand as an actual human being and not just a logo and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

As soon as your followers start seeing your brand as a person (or a bunch of people) you become so much more than a logo.

4. Social signals impact SEO, so your SEO will get a boost

Now, don’t be expecting tweeting twice a week to work miracles, but social signals are one of Google’s ranking factors. Is it an important factor? We don’t know, as only Alphabet (nee Google) employees know the secret ingredients in the algorithm, but it’s definitely a consideration.

Remember the 3 in the 5-3-2 rule? Share your content on social media to boost your shares and drive traffic. But remember, it only works if you’re creating content that people actually want to digest and share.

girl, woman, iphone, mobile, technology, objects, devices, people

5. You’ll develop relationships with potential leads

As with developing customer loyalty, if you can build a face or a name into a brand, people will start assigning characteristics to it. Let’s look at Paddy Power. When we think of their brand, we think of funny, cheeky, and often tactless pranks. We know they’re always good for a bit of banter and that’s what has helped them grow.

Every brand can’t be Paddy Power, but they can use social to build relationships and talk directly to their customers in an actionable, useful way. Play it right and you can develop those relationships along the funnel and turn them into leads and sales.

It doesn’t have to mean a massive budget either.

The cons of social media marketing

1. Facebook has murdered its organic reach

Killed it dead.

Over the last couple of years, Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform, meaning you need to pay for advertising to get results. You’ll have the odd success story, like Waterford Whispers for example, who won’t need to spend to see results but the majority of brands have been restricted to maybe 10% of what their reach should be.

And that goes for pages with 200 or 8,000 or 200,000 likes. Facebook doesn’t discriminate! To see a real result on Facebook, you need to approach it as an advertising platform. With smart targeting and good content, you’d be surprised by how far a small budget can go.

Organic reach is dead, but there’s plenty of life in Facebook yet.

2. You could commit a serious howler

A howler so bad that you could be fired, ruin your career, or do serious damage to your brand’s reputation. We like to apply the granny litmus test: if you wouldn’t say/show it to your nan, don’t post it on social media!

3. It takes time

Properly cultivating an audience on social media takes a lot more effort than posting the odd comment. The best brands are engaged and reactive, newsjacking and taking every opportunity as it comes. Yes, it’s time-consuming, especially as social likely can’t prosper in a vacuum.

You need to create content to go with your social media posts, whether that’s blogs or infographics or gifs or videos. And even if you’re not creating content, it’ll still take time as you’ll be courting influencers, engaging with your followers, and trying to win more followers with clever or actionable posts.

If you go in half-hearted and only put an hour in here or there, you’re not going to see the results you want.

Go big, or go home!

4. Tracking your ROI isn’t completely solid

google, analytics, stats, graph, marketing, charts, computer, laptop, technology, business, workingIf you’re not running paid campaigns, tracking your ROI is difficult. You can track your referrals in Google Analytics, as well as your basic stats but how do you assign a value to your return-on-investment? What are your KPIs and what are you measuring?

Are you using social to drive leads or just for brand awareness? How do you even measure ROI on something like brand awareness?

It’s all very intangible, but here’s something tangible for you: 71% of people are more likely to buy from a brand once they’ve scoped them out on social media.

Maybe they popped in once and didn’t so much as like or follow you, but they liked the cut of your jib and that sealed the deal for them. That, unfortunately, isn’t exactly measurable.

But just because you can’t properly measure it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t working.

The takeaway

Social media takes time, effort, and a dash of personality, but doing it right is worth it. The pros far outweigh the cons, and many brands are implementing brilliant campaigns and seeing serious results.

If you’re not already properly running your social media marketing, your competitors will sweep in and claim your territory. You can’t let that happen, now can you?

If you’d like a social or content campaign of your own, 256 Media can get you where you need to go.

Follow Lisa’s personal marketing/writer blog on lisasills.com. 

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