With 88 percent of businesses now active on social media, the social media landscape is becoming more cluttered and more difficult. This means that, for businesses, it is becoming harder and harder to break through the noise and be heard.
In order to penetrate the noise, businesses must deliver the right message to the right person in the right way. Increasingly, the way that people want to receive messages online is visually.
We’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is true. The brain can process images faster than text. This is why images are breaking through on social networks — because they provide a quicker way for people to comprehend information.
Image-based social networks, such as Pinterest and Instagram, are among the most popular and quickest-growing social networks online. Images are the most liked and commented on content on Facebook and links to images get the most clicks on Twitter. All signs point toward images as the most popular, most shared and most liked content on social networks.
The point is that with so much content on social media, images are increasingly the content that is breaking through and getting results. I realized this trend and recently published a book called “Visual Social Media Marketing” about how brands can take advantage of this and get results.
So, what can you do to take advantage of this trend? Here are three simple steps to start taking advantage of the visual revolution online.
Include images on your website
The visual Web focuses around images, and as your website is shared online, the images from your website are usually the focus of how your website content is shared.
For example, when I post a link to a website on Facebook, the image is shown beside the link to my content. In this example, I’m sharing a link to our report on Google+. The image of the Google+ report is on our website.
Having the image on our website is important to how the link to our website shows up on Facebook. The reality is that if you want to drive traffic to your website from social media, each page on your site should have relevant images that are appropriate for sharing on social networks.
Use images on existing social networks
If you want your business to be successful on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, images must be a part of your strategy. Consider these statistics:
? Images are the most shared and clicked on content on Twitter.
? Images receive 50 percent more interactions on Facebook.
? Google+ users have uploaded 3.4 billion photos.
? Recruiters spend more time examining a LinkedIn user’s picture than actually reviewing the person’s qualifications.
These statistics show that if you want to break through on the leading social networks you must have an image strategy. Images are easy to consume and eye-catching, and with all of the content on social networks, images break through and get better results than text updates.
Consider joining Instagram and Pinterest
Instagram and Pinterest are two of the quickest-growing social networks and they can be your way to reach new audiences and get results ahead of your competition. Consider joining these networks and participating in the community to reach your audience in a new and interesting way.
Visual marketing is a trend in social media that you just can’t afford to ignore. If you want your business to stay relevant, drive traffic to your website and build shares and likes on social networks, you can’t afford to ignore the power of images in achieving these objectives. ?
Krista Neher is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital. She is an international speaker and social media thought-leader, as well as the author of “The Social Media Field Guide,” “Visual Social Media Marketing” and “Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach.”
You’ve probably heard the expression that when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. That is where we are in social media.
Most social networks have given us hammers or tools to use to grow our business with social media. Facebook has given us pages to use to promote our brand, Twitter has given us accounts and hashtags to theme conversations, and LinkedIn has given us company profiles.
As social networks give us the tools, we jump in and bang away. We use the tools they have given us and try to pound out results. The problem with this approach is that you don’t only have a hammer and everything isn’t a nail.
You don’t only have a Facebook page, and getting interactions on your page isn’t the only way to use Facebook to grow your business.
We are at a point in social media where we’ve been programed to use the tools that the social networks have given us, and we’ve missed the point of what we were doing to begin with.
Every year, I train companies on how to use social media to grow their business, and the most common questions I get are, “How do I get more Twitter followers?” and “How can I drive more interactions on my Facebook page?”
These are the wrong questions.
The questions should be, “How can I use Twitter or Facebook to achieve my objectives?” It may be to drive more sales, get more leads, generate awareness or build brand equity. The problem is that we are asking the wrong questions about our social media marketing and we’ve forgotten why we were there to begin with.
For example, I was working with an organization that runs an event in my neighborhood. They asked me how to get more followers on Twitter. Their problem isn’t getting more followers — it is getting more people to attend the event. The best way to get more people to the event using Twitter isn’t to painstakingly attempt to get more followers. It is to get other people, who already have an audience to talk about the event and encourage their friends and followers to attend.
The point is that it isn’t about getting followers or fans; it is about using the medium to grow your business. Not everyone wants to like you or follow you on social networks. Not even your biggest fans.
Let’s face it, now that everyone is on social media, consumers don’t have an interest in liking or following every single business that they interact with.
For example, I love the Swiffer SweeperVac (and not just because I used to work at P&G). I love recommending it to people because I think it is amazing. I don’t “like” Swiffer on Facebook, and I don’t want to see cleaning tips and random cleaning status updates. Despite not wanting to “like” the Swiffer on Facebook, I talk about it periodically and recommend it to my friends and family.
The reality is that my recommendations and conversations on Facebook with my friends probably lead to more awareness and sales for Swiffer than a passive “like” of its page. Driving word-of-mouth and encouraging conversations can be a better way to achieve Swiffer’s objectives than asking people to “like” its page.
I’m not saying that pages, followers, likes and interactions aren’t important — the point is that these tools are not the only way to grow your business on social networks.
Stop missing the point of social media marketing. Stop asking how to get fans and followers, and start with a blank slate. Once you have knowledge of the social media tools and you have defined your marketing objectives, ask yourself how each social network can be used to achieve your goals.
Don’t worry about the tools that social networks give you. Think first about how each social network could actually drive your business. In most cases, the answer is more about inspiring conversations, activating enthusiasts and driving word-of-mouth than it is about getting people to like your status updates.
When it comes to social media, many businesses now have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs and YouTube channels, yet they are left wondering, “What’s it all worth?”
Measuring the return on investment from social media is as challenging if not more challenging than measuring traditional marketing for a number of reasons.
Brand impressions differ
First, let’s face it. Many aspects of marketing are difficult to measure. A common quote in advertising states, “I know that half of my marketing dollars are being wasted. I just don’t know which half.” Marketing and public relations, two of the most common functions involved in social media, are notoriously difficult to quantify.
Time-proven metrics for measuring marketing don’t work well in social media. In traditional media the success of a television ad is determined by multiplying a score of how effective the ad is by the reach or number of people who see the ad.
This doesn’t work well in social media because brand impressions are not all the same. For example, there is a vast difference in the level of brand engagement of an individual who passively reads a tweet versus someone watching a two-minute video.
The true reach from social media is also elusive. A study from PageLever showed that only 3 percent to 7.5 percent of brand fans on Facebook actually see branded messages. So while many brands will claim to reach the 5,000 people who have liked them on Facebook, they are in fact only reaching a small percentage of this audience.
That being said, there are a number of strategies that can help assess the potential value from social media marketing:
Direct marketing return
This is the most obvious type of return from social media. It involves looking directly at indicators that social media is driving business. This may include areas such as website traffic, redemptions of coupon codes, leads generated or e-mail addresses obtained.
Customer retention return
Many angry customers don’t get satisfaction from traditional customer service, so they take to the Internet. It is a growing expectation that businesses respond to customers on social media sites.
In working with a company recently, an executive asked me, “We aren’t going to make everyone happy, so what’s the point?” I asked him what the lifetime value of a customer was, and he responded that it was a few thousand dollars. Next I asked how many customers they would have to keep as a result of social media efforts for it to pay out. The answer was one per month.
By using this logic, we can determine if it is reasonable to expect the social media efforts to keep one customer happy and prevent them from leaving.
Similar to the customer retention return, a return on word of mouth can be calculated by looking at the lifetime value of a customer and assuming that because of making the effort on social media, a certain number of incremental referrals were generated from customers. It usually doesn’t take very many of these to start paying off.
Awareness and exposure
Awareness and impressions do have value in marketing online. An old marketing principle known as the Rule of Seven states that it takes seven interactions or impressions with a brand before someone chooses to do business. By having a presence in social media brands can increase the general awareness and impressions of a brand.
The items above are just a starting point. The key to success in judging the return from social media is to fully understand the goals and objectives and then measure your campaign against your objectives.
Don’t hold social media too highly
When evaluating social media, be sure that you aren’t holding it to a higher bar than other media. I spoke to an organization recently and the VP of marketing asked how they should judge the return from social media. I told him to measure it the same way they measure the rest of their marketing. He gave me a funny look and said, “Well, we don’t really measure the rest of our marketing.”
Just because you can measure clicks and traffic, doesn’t mean that those are the only things adding value in your social media.
Be sure to think comprehensively about your social media efforts and set goals up front.
Krista Neher is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital, author of the bestselling “Social Media Field Guide” and an international speaker.