Social media use, particularly on mobile phone applications, continues to expand without bounds of age, sex, or ethnicity.

Marketers, advertisers, and merchandisers have had years of experience in the physical world to learn what works, what draws prospects to a product, and how to persuade them to purchase. However, techniques that work in the physical world must be adjusted to be effective in the digital marketplace, even though the goals are similar.

Online advertising and marketing must:

  • Help potential customers find you and your products
  • Expand the number of potential customers for your products
  • Uncover what your customers think of you and your products
  • Find out how your customers are using your products

Social media allows you to talk with your customers, rather than to them, in an interactive process. While this interactivity plays a critical role in understanding your position vis-a-vis your competitors, it should not be a substitute for tangible revenues and profits. The bottom line matters, so you need to regularly measure your results to ensure you receive the benefits you expect.

Essential Components of a Social Media Outreach Strategy#

Digital Marketing Plan

Before embarking on a social media campaign, you should develop a digital marketing plan that includes all aspects of your online presence including your website, your email, and online advertising, as well as specific goals:

  • Web Traffic. Who do you want to attract to your site? What makes your prospects unique? How many visitors would it take for your campaign to be considered successful? This measure is the equivalent of “eyeballs on the page” in the physical world, and it’s important that only a fraction of website visitors become customers.
  • Conversion. How many visitors are you aiming to convert into customers? How many site visits should it take before a prospect becomes a customer? This analytic is a measure of the persuasive power of your layout, images, and site content.
  • Brand Enhancement. What do you want visitors to learn about your company? Is your online presence consistent with your physical presence? Is your content clear, connected, and coordinated? Good impressions build a sense of reliability and quality , and often lead to subsequent referrals, recommendations, and down-line business.
  • Visitor/Customer Communication. How do you interact with your online visitors? Is your website passive, or does it actively seek to engage visitors by drawing them deeper into the site, collecting information, and encouraging future visits? There are a variety of tools available to engage visitors, such as consumer polls, coupons, giveaways, popup ads, chat lines, and interactive blogs.

Website and Marketing Strategy

Effective websites are available to everyone, every business, and every pocketbook. Design and content matter, whether you are building a simple website for yourself using a free template or WordPress theme, or a complicated site created and maintained by web professionals. The only real tests of a good website are whether the site attracts visitors , and whether it communicates the message you want to deliver.

Web visitors can discover your site in a variety of ways before you even launch a social media campaign. You want to maximize your traffic as much as possible by utilizing a number of strategies:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Powerful search engines, such as Google and Bing, constantly crawl the web to deliver listings of sites intended to fit a searcher’s search terms, a process generally referred to as organic search results. SEO best practices enable you to optimize your site, making it easier for search engines to match your site’s content with searchers’ queries. Many professionals claim informational content, such as buyers’ guides and how-to pages, help improve organic search rankings.

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search engine sponsors generate revenue by displaying advertisements alongside their organic search results based upon the searcher’s search terms. For example, an advertiser could purchase the right to appear prominently on search results based on specific keywords, keyword combinations, and the location of the searcher. Advertising price varies based on the ranking of the search term within search results , or the number of views or click-throughs from the sponsored advertisement.
  • Affiliate Marketing Arrangements. Similar to traditional referral marketing where customers and friends refer prospects to particular companies or products, affiliate marketing relies primarily on financial incentives for referrals. The benefit to Amazon is the recommendation and opportunity to be seen by potential customers. You could offer your products or services through a network of affiliates or, conversely, add compatible, complementary products to your sales by utilizing affiliate arrangements.
  • Blogging. Set up as a website, blogs are a series of related narrative articles, usually offering an opportunity for reader comment and interaction. The purpose of a blog can be to inform, entertain, or opine about any subject interesting to the blogger and reader. Creating a company or personal blog, or acting as a guest blogger for other sites, is an excellent way to expand your web presence by generating readership and links from other websites.


Select Your Platforms
Whether you use one or all of the major platforms to promote your business, you need to pay special attention to the format and style used by each. Visit each site and learn how people interact, the importance of visual components, and the standard etiquette practiced by users before you plunge headfirst into a style that may not be effective.

Prepare Unique Landing Pages
First impressions count in the digital world just as much as they do in the real world. Your digital image should mirror and attract the visitors you want to become customers.

Think about the type of information that attracts your ideal customer, then deliver content that fits this expectation. Keep in mind that each social network is different. Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per post eliminates in-depth discussions , but is perfect for linking to other sites. LinkedIn is better for making industry contacts and getting professional advice. Pinterest is perfect for showcasing products visually. When you know what type of content each site is designed for, you can tailor your social campaigns accordingly.

Interact With Your Visitors
Social media sites are not billboards or print advertisements. To be effective, they must be nourished with regular attention and fresh content.

As in real life, popularity depends on what you bring to the party. You are not limited to your own materials – post videos, articles, or links that potential customers are likely to enjoy. And, always take the time to respond to feedback respectfully and appropriately. Remember, you are writing an open letter that everyone can read – don’t use language or comments you would be embarrassed or ashamed to claim. The short-term impact of your social media marketing campaigns may not be immediately obvious. This is true of almost all marketing efforts.

That said, spending on social media marketing is expected to increase 250% over the next five years. This increase is evidence that exploiting social networks is a worthwhile marketing effort. Do you participate in social networks? Have you recommended products or services as the result of a social network contact?