There’s very little doubt that today’s technology has changed the game of marketing. In fact, according to a recent study from Nielsen Media, only 14 percent of consumers trust traditional advertising.

Successful businesses understand that marketing does not end with the sale, but rather it begins after the first sale. Social media marketing gives businesses an incredible opportunity to continue making a positive branding impression on that prospect before, during and after the transaction. Here are some comfortable, accurate, and personal studies that significantly prove the value in the wonderful world of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

1. Customers Don’t Trust Businesses

Today’s consumers put faith in unsolicited, unfiltered, and raw third-party testimonials from independent sources that spread virally more now than ever before. Consumer behavior changes as the world’s technology evolves. Social media platforms allow companies a platform to humanize their brand and communicate with their target market using a two-way communication model–unlike traditional TV or print advertising. The Internet is a medium that plays a huge role in shaping consumer behavior. Social media outlets give customers a chance to share their experiences in a social manner that can either help or hurt your brand.

According to Nielsen Media Buzz Metrics, more than 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know; i.e., through friends’ Facebook and Twitter posts and YouTube videos. These brand advocates are critical endorsers for your business because they are so influential in the new age hyper-communication paradigm. With more than one billion users on Facebook and YouTube as the second largest search engine, the real question is why wouldn’t you use it to your advantage?

2. Social Media is Measurable

Social media can be measured through a plethora of contexts depending on your company’s strategic objectives and goals. The biggest misconception for not only social media, but all marketing communications alike, is that you can somehow track every last penny spent and generated. You simply cannot–we’re marketing to human beings, not computers. Their environment can easily sway their purchasing behavior. Your Facebook page, Twitter, and YouTube channel are just individual parts of that environment.

Social media touches nearly every facet of business in so many remarkably fresh ways. You can easily measure your social media success through Google and YouTube Analytics as well as Facebook Insights; website referrals, new fans, links shared, comments posted, and so on. It’s intuitively obvious that someone who “likes” you on Facebook is more apt to purchase from you and recommend your products to their “network.” ROI cannot be strictly calculated by financial return, rather brand awareness, brand recognition, brand perception, and understanding.

3. Speak to Today’s New Age Consumer

We’ve all learned in Sales 101 that the key to traditional selling is based on features, benefits, and solutions for your customer. However, we now live in an era where communication is literally at our fingertips and information can be broadcast to an ultra-connected network instantly. We must focus on Sales 201, which is leveraging technology for both efficiency and effectiveness through the social media platform.

Your ability to collect information and consumer data from prospects via Facebook is truly unprecedented–there’s never been an easier time to collect e-mails, ask your consumer questions, and put your brand in their hands so to speak. I mean let’s be honest, it’s not what you want anymore–it’s what the consumer desires. The only way to stay competitive in the marketplace is to be satisfying the palette of your customer by listening to their needs.

4. Best Bang for Your Buck All Year Long

Social media is one of the most inexpensive avenues to reach new and existing customers from anywhere in the world at anytime of the year. In fact, it is the cheapest and if implemented correctly one of the most effective. Let’s go through some numbers real quick. Suppose you decide to run a Facebook ad campaign to increase your fans, which costs you roughly $5,000 to get 5,000 friends. That equates to approximately $1 apiece.

What other form of advertising could you spend $1 each to get a targeted customer? The average direct mail piece costs at least a dollar when you include printing and postage. A 1 percent return on a direct mail piece is considered good. In order to get 5,000 customers, you need to spend $500,000 at a 1 percent rate! That is around $100 each! Pick your poison.

There’s no other marketing resource in the universe that has the same power, versatility, and capability as social media. Think of the last time you were able to engage with a mass audience every single day of the year. Unlike traditional TV and print media, social media is cost-effective and has a lifespan of years!

5. The Social Media Misconception

Most outdoor businesses overlook the “social” part of social media marketing. Instead, they take a leap of faith into the “marketing” abyss. To their detriment, they soon realize that their communities of fans actually do have expectations of the various social networks they belong. In almost every instance, these expectations DO NOT include having marketing messages jammed down their throat.

On average, in our industry, 90 percent of businesses are not utilizing social media to its potential, or even scratching the surface for that matter. And the small percent that actually does leverage their marketing mix into social media are doing it backwards and completely wrong. There’s something called a Facebook learning curve.

Managing a Facebook page can truly become a full-time job once you’ve harnessed the power to turn fans into legitimate buyers. However, there are very few experts in our field who have taken social media to the max. Most companies have clueless interns managing their page or pile it on the brand manager to do whenever they “have time.” So of course you aren’t going to get desired results if you don’t execute and implement the project with any strategic direction. When was the last time you saw Nike assemble an awful commercial spot that lacked a distinct message or scrambled together a print ad that looked like kindergarten scribble? You only get out of social media of what you put into social media–or any media for that matter.

Whether you like it or not, social media is the new Main Street at our fingertips and you will begin to see companies double down on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. This year, expect to see companies expand their social investments, with the help from improved social technologies, innovative ad models, and an ever-growing user base across the world.

Brandon Wikman (http://maximamedia.co/) is an industry expert in Online and Digital Media Communications for today’s outdoor brands. He’s the CEO of Maxima Media, a new age marketing agency and creators of the Hyper-Communication Network. For more information on Maxima Media call 612.5.MAXIMA or email Brandon@MaximaMedia.co.

Logo courtesy Brandon Wikman

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