The umbrella of digital marketing (or content marketing or inbound marketing) covers a wide range of tools, from your business blog to webinars to email blasts and social media.
Too often, however, social media seems to take on a life of its own, disconnected from other marketing efforts beyond sharing similar brand identity characteristics. The result of allowing social media to exist outside the overall inbound marketing strategyis lost lead generation opportunities and missed ROI goals.
Let’s look at three problems that limit social media’s ability to support overall inbound marketing efforts and the solutions that give social media its power as an extension of your marketing strategy to add leverage to your blog, content offers and landing pages.
Failing to link to your website and blog.
The basic premise of inbound marketing is to draw visitors to your website to convert them into leads. If social media posts and accounts aren’t pointing people to your site, they aren’t driving leads.
The solution here is really very simple: include links to your website and blog. While social media is great at creating buzz and engaging customers, prospects and fans on each individual platform, your business blog is still the center of your inbound marketing strategy.
It is your business blog that provides the bulk of the useable, educational and interesting content your prospects are searching for online, and it provides it in a location that allows you to capture leads through gated content offers such as case studies, ebooks, webinars and videos.
Plan status updates for each of your social media accounts to go with each individual blog post. You don’t have to limit the status updates to new blog posts, though. Periodically revisit and promote your most popular posts from the past, especially those that generated both traffic and leads. Or publish tweets and updates with links to past blog posts that address current events or topics that are trending in the news.
One other place to use links to blog posts from social media, albeit sparingly, is in discussions, such as those in LinkedIn groups. If you have a relevant blog post that adds useful information to a discussion, provide a link. Just don’t spam your groups with constant links that aren’t relevant or helpful.
Not using CTAs to promote offers.
Social media is a great opportunity to directly promote your website offers through status updates or paid social media promotions. Failing to do so means you are only using half of social media’s potential.
While you won’t want to bombard your social media followers with a flood of promotional updates (remember to treat social media content as you would any other, with an emphasis on informative, useful and interesting rather than promotional), judicial use of calls-to-action promoting your content offers can turn followers into leads by bringing them directly to your landing pages.
In addition to using calls-to-action in a few of your regular tweets and status updates, research and experiment with sponsored updates on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Sponsored updates can allow you to reach individuals who have not already connected with your network, often with the ability to directly target specific demographics using parameters such as job title, industry or geographic location.
Failing to track social media results.
If you skip the steps of using tracking tokens when linking from social media to your website, you lose the power of closed loop marketing to determine which platforms and types of content are most effective.
So, you are already using social media to link followers to your website, blog and content offers. Great! Which social media networks are most effective in generating traffic? Which have yielded the most leads? Do ads outperform status updates?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, because you aren’t utilizing tracking tokens to record and analyze results, you won’t have the information you need to maximize your social media ROI.
Tracking tokens are small bits of code that allow website content management software, such as that offered by JONES partner HubSpot, to separate and track traffic based on its source. Tracking tokens can be used with email blasts, lead nurturing campaigns, or with links from social media.
By tracking and analyzing how traffic reaches your website, you can answer those questions above and use the information to optimize your social media and inbound marketing strategy.
(Hint: Tracking isn’t just for social media and the marketing team. Here are 5 ways closed loop marketing improves sales effectiveness.)
What I’m really getting at, is that social media is not a world unto itself. It is one tool in a digital marketer’s toolbox, and it works best when coordinated with the rest of the inbound marketing strategy.
Find out more about how JONES approaches social media as a part of the total marketing picture in our JONES Social Media Solution paper.