Word-of-mouth referrals have historically been the most effective and desired marketing tool, as their occurrence within trusted relationships of families and friends lend credibility and esteem to brands. However, social media marketing has created a new level of opportunity within the referral marketing umbrella by leveraging a business’s existing network of customers through social networks.

Social Networking: One of the Most Popular Online Activities

With a record-breaking number of participants across a wide range of networks, the social media phenomenon has irrevocably changed the landscape of communication. People are now connected in real-time via online communities where they can share thoughts, personal information, experiences, and referrals with a wide network of their peers. This provides significant influence to individual voices in the marketplace, and has a major effect on how businesses should market, communicate with prospects and customers, manage their public images, and improve their products and services.

Social Media Marketing: Focus on the Customer

Social media has broken the chains of top-down communication from businesses to consumers and has leveled the playing field. Companies must adopt the peer-to-peer communication style of social media and focus on the needs and interests of their customers to be successful marketers in this medium. By delivering content of customer interest and special benefits–as well as being an active ‘listener’ of fans and followers–businesses will enjoy a growing social media following that will deliver positive commentary, increased web traffic, and both on- and offline referrals.

Strategic Social Media Marketing

Sporadic postings to Facebook and Twitter accounts seem disjointed and disorganized. The most effective social media marketing approach is to carefully outline communications with a social media marketing plan. A well-designed plan includes goals, budget guidelines, competitive research, strategy, and a content calendar. Having a social media marketing plan in place is also essential for measurement. With regular monitoring of the number of followers and quality of interactions, periodic reevaluations of strategies outlined in the plan can be adjusted accordingly.

Social Media Marketing to a Target Audience

Using a comprehensive social media marketing plan as a blueprint, increasing leads, referrals, and web site traffic can be accomplished by strategically participating in a variety of social media networks. There are thousands of them out there, but it is critical to select a handful that best reach your customers and target market(s). Typically, the most popular sites–Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube–are great starting points. However, if you are targeting a younger audience, you may want to emphasize YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, whereas a female-focused campaign might work well on Pinterest, since its users are 85% female.

Engage Consistently and Creatively with your Followers

Communicate with customers and prospects via each social media account in a conversational fashion that isn’t always about your business. Include calls to action in your postings and web links to increase the probability they will be reposted, and answer customer questions and complaints in a timely fashion. Design mini-campaigns that offer incentives, like rewards or contests for new ideas, customer-produced videos about your brand, and survey participation.

Social media marketing fosters business growth when businesses are dedicated to building a true relationship with customers and prospects. By communicating openly and frequently with brand followers and delivering content and rewards that address their needs and interests, they will reciprocate with brand referrals and increased website traffic, leading to more sales and bigger profit margins. Millennium Agency can help jumpstart or enhance your social media marketing strategy—just give us a call.

About Millennium Agency

Millennium Agency is a national award-winning digital creative, content/PR and video marketing firm. With offices in Boston and New Hampshire, our team unites creative branding and data analytics to accelerate our clients’ growth, while combining our clients’ vision with our marketing expertise to increase sales opportunities and drive brand success. From video advertising and web design to social media and PR, Millennium can guide your marketing efforts every step of the way. Contact the professionals at Millennium Agency to learn more!

Linda Fanaras is the President and Founder of Millennium Agency (www.mill.agency) located in Manchester, NH and Boston. She can be reached at 877-873-7445 or lfanaras@mill.agency.