If you currently own a smartphone in 2018, chances are you have at least one social media application installed right now, if not more. And you’re not alone. Hootsuite reports that a whopping 3.196 billion people are now on social media – up 13% from 2017. The digital phenomenon is continuing to take the world by storm, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be coming to an end anytime soon.
Global Web Index reported that 98% of digital consumers are social media users, proving that business owners can’t afford to ignore the benefits that social platforms have to offer. Instead of browsing products throughout a number of stores, consumers are turning to the internet to help decide their purchase’s fate. This can take place from the comfort of their own home, or on-the-go with the help of their mobile device.
But not every company has the luxury of being able to publicly promote themselves on social networks so openly. Sure, they’re active on all of the usual platforms, but the engagement’s just not there.Why? Because they operate in an industry that people aren’t comfortable sharing about.
I can see why you’re worried, and I’m glad you asked. Fortunately, there are ways businesses can use social media with discretion. Let’s dive into why you should be using social media marketing for your business, and how you benefit from it even in an unsexy industry.
The Ubiquity of Social Media Marketing
Almost everyone is familiar with the advantages of using social media on a personal level; you can stay in touch with friends and family, share videos and photo albums, etc. But it’s understandable for some owners to still be apprehensive.
A presence on your social media accounts can form relationships between your brand and potential consumers. This can be accomplished by building trust among followers through a variety of methods – including asserting authority in your industry by distributing blogs and videos, engaging your audience with helpful information, and offering promotional discounts and contests.
Typically, businesses turn to social media to promote their product or service loud and proud of employing the traditional engagement tactics previously mentioned.
But what happens if the product or service your company offers is too complex to market with just a simple promotional image or a 280-character long post? The reason 1:1/direct/private social works is because consumers/customers/prospects will have questions that they don’t want to ask publicly (you nailed that) but getting into the reasons as to why would be because of the industry, the subject matter being kicked around (is it personal, financial, embarrassing? etc.)
Time to Get Direct
So, how can you use social media to connect with your audience on a more personal level? The inquiries your followers will have varies depending on your industry, but it’s ultimately up to the business to ensure that its customers, both current and prospect, feel confident in what is offered.
Through the power of what is referred to as “direct message marketing.” This social media marketing technique involves the use of direct messaging on social platforms to communicate with your followers in a more candid manner.
Direct message marketing is ideal for unsexy industries because it provides a business with a confidential setting to interact with its leads and existing customers.
For instance, my employer Fast Capital 360 is in the small business funding industry. As is often the case, business owners would rather not share the financial health of their company with the entire world.
Think about it – if your business was struggling financially, would you want to announce it publicly in a comment on Facebook? Probably not.
Advantages of Direct Message Marketing
With the help of direct messaging, we’re able to address any questions or concerns our followers may have – all within a private conversation. This means that if a potential customer has a question about one of our alternative loan products and isn’t ready to connect on the phone, we can discreetly share specifics of our funding options all within a timeframe that’s comfortable for them.
As business drivers, we can learn a lot from our target audience through the power of one-on-one dialogue. By taking advantage of this private forum, we are able to pick the brains of our consumer base – an advantage that was never offered to traditional marketing professionals aside from costly market research studies.
The information that your consumers and prospects divulge during your conversation can be used in many ways. It can support you in further enhancing your business’ customer experience, develop content ideas to answer their questions, and make improvements to your brand’s offerings.
What’s also great is that the power of direct message marketing isn’t limited to just Facebook (although FB messenger is predicted to see a rise this year) – you’re also able to instantly message followers on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, which means you can interact directly with leads on the platform of their choosing.
While it’s great to use all the countless different social media platforms for your personal use, it’s not a very smart idea to spend your company’s resources on marketing efforts for every single app out there. Before choosing which platform you will use tor your direct message marketing, take a look at your current consumer base and spend a little time researching your target audience.
One great way to do this is to dive into the ‘Audience’ report in your business’ Google Analytics account and take note of the dominant demographics (age, gender, etc.) that are visiting your site. Another tactic would be to upload your email list with all of your current customers into Facebook’s Ad Manager. This upload will allow you to see what your customer’s like and do in addition to where they exist in the world. Of course, you can also turn to your company’s sales records for a more accurate representation of who is purchasing from your brand.
Dominating the DM
A conversation via direct message on social media can be initiated both by either the consumer or by yourself. Sure, you could set up automatic direct message marketing campaigns – but they lack the personalization that is accompanied with a live one-on-one conversation, and are often times even mistaken for unwanted spam.
You can identify DM targets by reading through the comments left on your business’ posts, searching social media for keywords related to your industry, etc. – but in many cases, leads will reach out to you directly when they have a question in mind.
When given this opportunity, make sure that you’re being personal and not providing generic answers that the lead could find with a quick Google search. And, if the conversation gets a little too in-depth, you can always suggest taking it over to email or phone later down the road.
Your ultimate goal is for your exchange to provide more value to the consumer than to you and your business. Focusing here will help your company build trust and form a relationship, directly. This way, the next time this consumer is looking to make a purchase, your brand will be the first option that they consider.
Direct messaging as a social media marketing technique can be extremely beneficial to a business in an unsexy industry. Though it takes a lot of planning, coordination, and a great deal of attentiveness and dedication to execute successfully, don’t let the work deter you.
Developing a robust social media strategy that works for your business sector may take a bit of trial and error, but will be worth it in the long run when you reap the benefits of forming a strong bond with your audience. Plus, all those new sales and word of mouth buzz you’ll be generating won’t hurt, either.
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