Your social media strategy—quantity vs. quality
A delicate balance
By Heather Lockwood
By now you probably have a good plan in place to include social media as part of your marketing strategy. So it may be time to consider what you think would be your measure of success. Is it the number of fans, likes, hits to your Web site? Is it more actual customers and, therefore, more sales generated through your strategy?
However you decide to measure the success of your social media efforts, you want to see your agency's bottom line get a boost from those efforts. Having fans or hits or likes just for the sake of the numbers is not going to put more money in your agency's pocket. You need to figure out how to get the types of fans you actually want to help grow your business vs. tons of fans that don't translate into more customers.
Think about the fans
When you think about your social media efforts, you should think about your existing customers, as well as potential customers who have either expressed a need for your services or have purchased a similar service from a competitor. Are the people you are reaching actually the people who have bought or will buy your product?
Large companies may boast of having thousands of fans, but aside from raising brand awareness, that might not get them much if they can sell only in Georgia and the majority of their fans are in Europe. Consider the range of where you can sell your product and focus on trying to reach people in that area. That is how you are going to turn those fans into actual customers.
Also, give your current customers a platform to comment on your products and services. There is no better salesperson than someone who is a current customer and loves the product, service or commitment your agency provides. One of the great things about social media is instantaneous word of mouth. If you are being helpful and recommending solutions to inquiries you get, and current customers are talking about the benefits of doing business with you, your agency will come to mind as an option when fans who are also potential customers are shopping.
Consider your circle of influence
Reach out to your friends, family, local businesses and community contacts and ask them to spread the word about your agency to their friends and family and other local contacts such as school, church, the grocery store, etc. Use the ties you have in your community to get the word out about your agency in the areas where it matters most—where people can actually buy your product. Ask your friends and family to reach out to their local contacts and have them like your Facebook page or comment on your blog and reference the person who sent them. The key is making sure that people who are visiting and liking your social media sites translate into actual customers.
Also, your current customer base is a great reference for your business. Consider having customer testimonials, a "Customer of the Week" or a similar platform to let real customers tell their story of doing business with you. The entire story may not always be positive, but if the end result is that a real event occurred and your product, service and commitment made it right, that is what people will remember. They will conclude that your agency is one they can count on. Discussion and engagement are the best way to expand your circle of influence and the number of people you can reach.
Don't rely solely on numbers
While it may feel good to have lots of fans and friends and visitors, the numbers may not be all they're cracked up to be. By applying analytics to your Web sites and blogs, you can easily break down who your visitors are and where they are coming from. If you find that you are getting a lot of hits from people who really don't fit or are not in close enough proximity to be a potential customer, online ads are one way to reach out more specifically.
On Facebook, you can use key words in an ad to reach out to specific people, within a certain demographic and in a certain location to target your specific audience. You might select words like motorcycle, insurance, the name of the state you live in, and others to target exactly who you're trying to reach. If you have a Web site or blog, you can use ad banners there as well, to push people out to local businesses you partner with. Ask that it be reciprocal so potential customers can find you through other local sources.
It's great to be able to say you have 100,000 fans, but it's even better to say you have 10,000 potential customers who found you through your digital marketing efforts.
What about quantity?
While you can do several things to try and target just the right customer for your business, you can't totally dismiss the benefit of quantity. The more people you reach overall, the more possible "good" contacts you may not have reached otherwise. There should be a focus on the quality of your visits and fans, but from the standpoint of potential, quantity has its place as well.
While you may have fans that have no intention of purchasing from you, according to a study of more than 1,500 consumers by market research firms Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies, 60% of Facebook fans and 79% of Twitter followers are more likely to recommend those brands since becoming a fan or follower. So, it stands to reason that the more fans you have, the more people you have recommending your brand, even if they are not directly going to buy from you.
There should be a balance between quality and quantity in social media marketing. If you are focused on quality and reaching your key audience, as well as providing interesting and engaging content that will help increase the numbers of fans, likes and visitors, you have the best chance of taking advantage of both the quality of the fans who are visiting your sites, as well as the quantity of people who know of you and will recommend your business to others.