It’s that time of the year again when amid all the planning for the holiday season, professional services firms start strategizing for the New Year. Out of the many questions that they have uppermost in their minds is how they can continue to leverage the potential of social media. Will social media marketing experience a paradigm shift? What are the new strategic initiatives a firm can implement to proactively grow their social media influence? How can social media further customer retention?
Let’s take a look at some of the answers.
Facebook Will Still Be King
Nothing beats Facebook in terms of usage. This isn’t going to change. Although, there are people who predict a mass exodus of businesses from Facebook to other social networks in lieu of Facebook marketing becoming more expensive, the social media network will still be numero uno for the sheer consumer mind space it occupies.
But there are few things you can do better in the New Year:
- Optimize Your Facebook Page for Graph Search
Choose the right category for your business and make sure you’ve mentioned the right business address. The address must exactly match the one mentioned on your company website. Also, give renewed attention to the ‘About’ section of your company page. Filling your entire profile helps target audience understand how your business can help them; and use the appropriate keywords in not just your ‘About’ section, but status updates and hashtags as well. Encourage ‘Likes’ and ‘Check-Ins’ and keep posting and tagging your business page in them.
Facebook Graph Search can be used to find:
- People who like your business and live in a specific location.
- People who’re interested in specific areas like ‘accounting,’ ‘software technology,’ etc. and who’re a part of specific communities discussing their pet interests. As a firm, you can identify interest groups aligned with your own professional activities, join these groups and contribute to them.
- Custom Audiences
Custom Audiences has become a more capable feature with its ability to deliver targeted ads to people who’ve visited a particular website or used a mobile app. So, if you’re marketing a software product, you can directly reach out to people who started exploring the product functionality on your site, but didn’t make a purchase. The use of desktop News Feed allows you to persuade these people to complete their purchase.
- Native Advertising through News Feed
Marketers were gung ho about Facebook’s News Feed as a marketing vehicle in 2013 and it’s important to continue looking at it in the same vein. The News Feed should be your focus area for ad placement rather than the side bar. Marin Software has come out with a white paper that lays it out threadbare that News Feed Ads have higher CTR, lower CPC and a greater conversion rate as compared to ads on the side bar.
LinkedIn – Because That’s Where the Results Are
As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reiterate the fact that LinkedIn should be the social media platform of choice for professional services firms. With 43% of marketers having found a customer on LinkedIn in 2013, it’s time to give LinkedIn its due. With Facebook advertising becoming more expensive, it’s time to hedge your bets and shift a part of your marketing budget to LinkedIn. A sharp focus on its display advertising is of course critical, but also pay attention to delivering personalized content by professional profile.
Contributing on LinkedIn
Search for target groups where your audience is most likely to hang out; make sure there are some great discussions happening on it, and only then join them and begin contributing. Let’s take the example of a legal firm that wants to make its LinkedIn profile work. After identifying the groups focusing on legal discussions, it’s time to identify people asking specific questions pertinent to the firm’s expertise in the legal domain. Keep adding value to the discussion with your LinkedIn contribution, which will get more people to check out your profile. Some of these people will visit your site.
Guest Blogging – Moderation will be the Key
2013 can very well be called the ‘Year of Guest Blogging’. It can also be called ‘The Year Guest Blogging was abused by Misguided SEO Professionals’. Many SEOs saw guest blogging as a reincarnation of article marketing and the abuse started from this mistaken belief. They made it their only link building strategy resulting in a deluge of low quality link backs from ‘low quality guest post publishing sites,’ precisely something that Google had asked them not to do.
Guest blogs will regain their lost value and marketers are forced to rework their guest blogging focused content marketing strategy. High quality guest blogging done in moderation should be a New Year’s resolution. Flooding your social networks with links to blog posts day in and day out will not create value any more. Excessive guest blogging might actually set you up for a Google penalty.
Build Social Influence – Clout of Klout
Focus on building up your Klout score by boosting your digital influence. The higher your Klout score, the better your credibility. A measurable social media influence in the form of a score, also acts as social proof. Either call it a brazen prediction or an informed one but we believe a Klout score will play a significant role in gauging the respectability of a professional services firm. It offers proof of a consistently engaging social media connect and the value a brand delivers through its interactions on the social media. The more the value, the more the influence and better the Klout score. Think of it as a way of evaluating your social media presence and its ROI.
Stop Thinking Social Media Marketing is Cheap/Free
It’s time to loosen your purse strings. If you want your social media marketing campaign to deliver returns, you’ll need to spend money. It’s not just Facebook advertising that’s got expensive, get set for higher Twitter advertising campaign costs. Even LinkedIn has introduced promoted updates. So, the question is, are you brave enough to put more money in social media? We are looking at a future where social media networks begin “exploiting” their tremendous and ever growing user base to generate more revenue. Let’s face it, we knew this was coming all along, so why not take the bull by its horns and increase social media spending. You need to start thinking about paying social networks for improving your firm’s visibility.
It Should Be All about Diversification
A presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ will not be a diversified presence on social media. You need to keep exploring newer networks that in some way fit your business needs. Networks like Vine, MySpace, and others need to be tapped as well. The truth is your diversification can never be enough. Diversification is important because it’s become very difficult to capture public attention on social media. But, hey if you’ve got great social media content, there is nothing to worry about. Social media strategies might change, but what will not change is the use of amazing content to engage customer attention.