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How to use social media to achieve a winning business strategy

How to use social media to achieve a winning business strategy

By Maria Wasing, VP of marketing Europe & sales operations, Episerver

There is no denying that social media is shifting the way people interact online, both with each other and with brands. But despite the hype around social media for business use, a recent study by Marketing Tools shows that a massive 94% of businesses are not using social media for even the most obvious tasks. And of those that are using it, not all of them are doing so to their advantage.

Over the last few years, it has become apparent that businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the growing popularity of social media and the need to engage with audiences over these channels to get ROI from their online marketing strategy. The traditional success has not changed (clicks and conversions), but social media is changing the way success is achieved.

Increasingly, marketers must build awareness, create familiarity and loyalty, compel potential customers to consider a purchase and drive lead generation. It’s become a journey in which social media has a key role.

Bringing the audience to you

The key to making social media work for online commerce is setting out a strategy that enables engagement. To do this, social media networks need to be considered ‘outposts’ that drive awareness and create familiarity for your brand in the social sphere.

These outposts, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, should be used to reach potential buyers and then pull them back to your site, where you can control the content and concentrate on conversion. The chances of reaching your audience can be enhanced by ensuring it’s possible for people to share social objects - like links to Twitter, product recommendations or blogs - via your site.

How will social media outposts like these enhance audience reach? Customers trust voices that sound like their own; they tune out to marketing speak, corporate talk and the opinions of critics, and tune in to their peers and their interests. In a world where marketing is often resisted, social media can play a key role in gaining trust from potential new clients through social sell and peer endorsement

Welcome to the power of social commerce

Some excellent examples of the application of social media are starting to emerge from the retail sector. Some organisations, such as Amazon and eBay, have become experts at establishing social media outposts. They have married the social to the commercial, and have engaged audiences by giving them the opportunity to provide insights and input.

Retailers are using social media outposts to drive traffic to their websites, but the real secret in gaining ROI from this traffic is through social commerce on your website.

For example, once a visitor is on the site, you need a strategy to turn social interactions into relationships, and clicks into conversions. To achieve this, it’s key to hone your site content to suit the needs of your audiences. Every piece of content should help to build a relationship with the visitor and take them one step further to the point of conversion.

The rules of engagement

Here are my key steps on how any business can use social media to improve site conversions:

•    Create a community. You can establish a community of fans of your brand right there on your website and use outposts to drive traffic

•    Listen to your audience. Give them a chance to participate and generate their own content on your site

•    It’s not all about selling. You need to add value to your customer/ audience’s online experience

•    Measure your metrics. Track ROI at every stage of the conversion journey and constantly adjust those elements that may make customers more inclined to convert.

The bottom line? Social media can win new business. But it requires engagement with key audiences and compelling reasons to communicate with your brand and bring them back to your site. Use outposts, engagement and web content wisely, and the sales and conversions will follow.

If you are looking for a world-class social media training course, contact The Knowledge Engineers.

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