The social space is getting crowded as more and more businesses marketers turn to social media to increase exposure, generate traffic and improve sales. Some researchers now believe Twitter will eventually shift to more of a commercial outlet—less focused on social use. Now more than ever there is greater pressure on marketers to generate compelling content users will actually want to read and share.
A recent study, co-authored by professors at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University and reported in the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, looked at 2,500 average Twitter users and artificially raised the number of followers for some of those users. As the researchers studied trends, they noticed that as users gained 85 or more new followers, the frequency of their tweets went down. Ultimately, they concluded that as users reached a certain number of followers, their urge to tweet was diminished, leaving mostly those with a financial or branding incentive to continue tweeting regularly.
The value of incorporating social media into a marketing plan with a goal of increasing sales is undeniable. The latest figures show 89 percent of marketers say social media has increased exposure for their business and more than half who’ve been using social media for three or more years have seen an increase in sales. Additionally, the number of social media users is increasing. A recent Pew Internet Research study indicates 72 percent of online adults use social networking sites. If you have been contemplating adding social media to your marketing efforts, now is a good time to get started.
More social media users means there is more “noise” and content must be compelling for people to read and share it. In the past, the general public tended to side more with media and trusted what they read or saw versus what companies put out publicly. That has changed greatly. In fact, a 2009 Edelman study reported in the New York Times and mentioned in the latest O’DwyersPR newsletter indicated that today, Americans trust companies more than they do the media—38 percent versus 25 percent. There is no longer a need to wait for the media to filter messages. Companies can now go directly to their potential customers using their websites and social media channels. They should do this with “branded content.”
Today, the best business marketing and communications strategy is one that anticipates the information needs of customers and crafts content to meet those needs. Content should not be all about the product or service but about the challenges of prospective customers. It should be written so it establishes the business owner or leader as a credible expert and someone who can help solve a problem. Blogs, white papers and videos are excellent channels for sharing content. Twitter and Facebook posts can then help push those messages out and link directly to a blog, website or video. It’s a coordinated strategy for creating and sharing content people care about and want to read. Those who quickly blast out messages to say they are “on social media” are wasting their time. As the noise in the social media space gets louder and more competitive, it will require businesses and marketers to become more strategic and thoughtful in their planning.
There is no doubt social media is a must, but it’s a must that it be high quality content. Otherwise, it will be lost in the crowd.
Do you need help developing a social media content strategy for your marketing efforts? We specialize in B2B businesses and know what works and what doesn’t. Contact us to learn more.
Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services for WordWrite Communications. You can find her on Twitter @JustHollieG.