Your ears are tired of hearing the phrase, “inbound marketing”. It’s right up there with “lead generation” and “providing value” on our list of annoying buzzwords, too.
But did you know that businesses that focus on inbound marketing save $14 for every freshly acquired customer?
Well, now you do.
It’s a big deal, and social media marketing is an important part of it – it can be a serious asset to any digital marketing strategy if you know how to use it.
But hey, everyone uses social media.
So they must know what they’re doing, right?
All it takes is making a profile on a few platforms, posting a few things, and customers will come. Right?
- What social media is and why it’s worth your while
- What inbound marketing is
- Why social media is important for inbound marketing
- And why not to do it – until you create a proper strategy
Feel free to skip ahead if you know social media 101 because we’ll start from the very top.
What Is Social Media Marketing and Why Is It Important?
Social media marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that focuses on valuable content creation and distribution on social media channels, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to build a relationship with your target audience.
An audience that hangs out there as we speak.
Probably saving hilarious videos to send to friends or 2-minute recipe videos to try later.
4.62 billion people used social media in 2021. So we really mean everyone uses at least one social platform, and a bunch of people specifically use it to look for brands and companies.
It only makes sense you make yourself available.
But the deed is a bit more complicated than just creating a couple of profiles and posting whatever.
You need to know your social media channels, who uses which one, and how each one of them works to pick where to set camp.
And trust us: if you’ve never done it, you want to prioritise a few but nail your strategy rather than try to do it all and fail at 10 separate social media platforms.
So here are your options:
|Social media platform||Number of active users and largest age group||Best for|
Now let’s talk about the importance of social media marketing. Why even use any of these channels?
The top 10 benefits of social media marketing for businesses
We’ll talk about why social media matters for inbound marketing more specifically later.
But these are the top 10 general benefits of social media for businesses:
- Increases brand awareness
- Grows brand authority
- More opportunities to convert and hence more conversation
- Builds a community around your brand
- Better customer experience, leading to…
- Higher customer satisfaction…
- Higher customer loyalty
- Helps to boost SEO efforts
And now that same list but a little more elaborated if you have a minute.
If not, or you believed us the first time (aww, thank you), jump straight to “What is Inbound Marketing.”
1. Increases brand awareness
Getting on social media exposes you to the people who are already there – virtually an infinite pool of potential customers. The more your account grows, the more new people find out about you.
You get to tell your story and facilitate conversation as a company.
Even better? Your employees can use their socials and share the love with their networks (as long as it’s not forced on them – don’t be that brand).
For example, this is Dooly’s LinkedIn:
They have 22,825 followers – not bad at all!
But it doesn’t end there, because their employees are also active and got their own followings to add:
Notice another 22k followers. Fine, maybe there’s some overlap.
But that’s still at least 15k other people getting exposed to Dooly on the regular – whenever Camille writes a post (by the way, follow Camille; she’s great).
Whether it’s related to Dooly and content marketing or something totally random.
When it feels organic, this can be a great way to raise brand awareness and start building relationships.
2. Grows brand authority
Social media lets you zone in on the latest industry trends, offer your unique perspective to current discussions, and educate your audience.
The result isn’t just sounding like a smart cookie.
It’s brand authority. As in, people start viewing you as a valuable resource on your topic of expertise and put trust in your brand.
Bonus points if you actively engage with them and answer their queries.
Including their complaints!
Solving problems instead of deleting negative comments shows you care about your audience on a deeper level and aren’t trying to look perfect at their expense.
3. More conversation = more opportunities to convert
- How they speak
- What they think about you
- How much you’re helping them – or not
- What else they might need that you didn’t consider
- How else you might help them
- Why they hesitate to convert, etc.
This intel is the kind of stuff you can usually only extract from your sales analytics.
But having a social media presence has another advantage:
It shows you your customers outside of their interaction with you.
Nothing says you can’t click through their public profiles and see who they’re talking to – what else they like, what they find funny, what they’re all about.
This helps you target them better (for lack of a non-creepy way to say that) and bridge the gap from audience to customers.
4. Builds a community around your brand
Social media helps you raise engagement and get people involved.
It’s not all about you!
But starting discussions, encouraging questions, and organising around your target audience can help you create a community they’re glad to participate in.
People want to belong and connect with others like them. And we’ve seen just how important online communities are during the lockdown when all other contact was limited.
But why does this matter to you?
- Cements your brand mission and voice so people can recognise you
- Forms great relationships with your customers who are more likely to recommend you to others
- Furthers your marketing through word-of-mouth and user-generated content
- Shows new leads who you are and what you’re all about more quickly
- Lets your fans do some of the work for you – they might proactively respond to others’ questions about your brand and provide helpful reviews of your products
And plus, all the helpful exchanges people have that aren’t directly about your product still get associated with you because they happen in the community you built.
This results in higher credibility and confidence in your brand and a better time for all parties involved.
5. Better customer experience
If you didn’t pay attention to benefit #4, you might want to reread it because this one ties with it.
A happy, buzzing community = a better customer experience.
Imagine you’re an eco-conscious person looking to buy a quality safety razor.
You see an ad for some brand you’ve never heard of, but their Instagram profile seems brand new. They’re talking about all these benefits of their product and offering insane deals – but there are literally zero comments on their posts.
No reviews, nada.
You don’t want to risk it and end up with rubbish.
But this reminds you to look for the right company, and this time you find one that has a huge following base.
And not just followers – these people are seriously engaged. A bunch of them post videos where they’re trying out the razor – yes, on actual hairy legs.
You wonder about the packaging, but before you even ask, you see someone already did and they got responses from other users reassuring them there’s no plastic involved.
The best part is that you didn’t even have any contact with the brand yourself – it was all the community doing the work.
For you as a customer, this is much more convenient and convincing than trying to connect the dots on your own and wondering if you can trust the brand.
Or worse, getting directed to a FAQ that answers only the questions the company wishes people would ask.
6. Higher customer satisfaction…
Convenience? Full transparency? Buzzing community with all the answers?
What’s not to like?
Social media increases customer satisfaction. They not only appreciate you ticking all these boxes – they expect you to do it.
B2B audiences spend a lot of time researching solutions and social media is one of the channels they turn to for helpful, informative, and engaging content. They want you to make their research easy.
B2C audiences look for brands on social media, too. They expect you to give them all the important information and make their buyer journey effortless.
You can cover a lot of that ground on social media.
7. Higher customer loyalty
We’ve talked about a good user experience, and that’s a valid point for customer loyalty too.
But one especially nice thing about social media marketing is that you can align yourself with the values and missions of your target audience.
Not quite the Pavlov effect, but similar.
For example, Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees with each search query. Yes, we’re feeling green today.
This twist that doesn’t have much to do with the standard search engine narrative is enough to differentiate Ecosia from their competitors and strike a chord with the people who care.
“You’re saying this is just like a regular search bar but I’m also helping a good cause and planting trees? Sign me up!”
And since you’ve established a more important reason for them to pick you over competitors, they’re more likely to stay, because it’s not just about the product anymore.
It’s the mission. And the storytelling that tied you to it.
Plus, you know where people go when they want to share mind-blowing discoveries.
Yep – it’s social media.
8. Helps to boost SEO efforts
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is just fancy speak for jumping some hoops to prove to search engines you’re legit and important.
A lot of content marketing revolves around it.
But one integral thing about SEO that people often forget is that Google and co prioritise user engagement metrics as a way to estimate your website.
- How many people come to you
- How long do they stick around (are they engaged at all?)
- Whether they click around or bounce immediately (can you keep their attention?)
- Whether they find it worthy of sharing with others (are you providing valuable information?)
And this again highlights the importance of social media marketing: these platforms are all about engagement.
You can use them to distribute the content you’re creating elsewhere by breaking it down into smaller pieces and peppering them all over the place.
Get more people to click. Start more than one conversation. Connect the dots with one another and with the source on your website.
Creating social media profiles and posting costs practically nothing.
Regular content creation is an effort, sure, but if you focus on quality over quantity and strategically reuse your content from other platforms like blogs, you can get by even without a hefty budget.
More importantly, the results are very much worth it.
The ROI isn’t so straightforward to calculate because this isn’t just a quick-sell method.
Social media marketing is about planting the seeds, nurturing your relationships and reaping the big long-term bang for your buck.
Still, here’s an idea of how to look at it across the funnel (this just says how far along the audience is from converting to customers):
That’s the long-term lens.
But even short-term, every post you create and conversation you have is an opportunity to convert.
There’s no industry that wouldn’t benefit from that.
Social media content often takes less time to create because it’s short.
It’s more about the initial preparation to make sure you have your value proposition and all the other brand-specific things figured out.
Who you are. What you stand for. What kind of tone and character you have.
Your brand’s story. Then, it’s pretty straightforward:
- Comment, listen, respond
- Repurpose and recycle content to squeeze all the juice out of it
- Experiment with forms like video, images, gifs, etc.
- Be personable – no point going to social media to be a bland robo-company
Because it’s so time-effective, social media is a great side-kick to any inbound marketing strategy and often works as an affordable solo gig, too.
And now that we’re done with the generic stuff, let’s get more focused – starting with inbound.
Now, What Is Inbound Marketing?
Just in case you’re not 100% sure about the difference between inbound and outbound but feel like it’s too late to ask…
It’s fairly simple:
The idea with inbound marketing is that you create great content that’s valuable for your target audience and have them come to you, instead of you chasing them like in traditional, outbound marketing.
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing lies in who initiates that first contact – you or your audience – as well as the methods you use to get them to buy from you.
Outbound is aggressive. It’s like the annoying assistant shopper in the store who follows you and keeps trying to sell even though you assure her you’re just looking around – a lot of people aren’t into it.
And the majority find it annoying enough to leave the store.
Inbound is a universally preferred alternative that opens the door for your audience to come to you if they see it fit.
Like leaving cookies out for Santa.
So where does social media fit in there?
Well, we touched on creating content (your Santa cookies), but that doesn’t only have to be long-form stuff like blogs.
Social media is a platform that lets you distribute and repurpose that type of content, too.
But it’s also an opportunity for brand new content creation.
Some examples you’ll recognise include hashtag campaigns on Instagram like ASL Association’s #IceBucketChallenge:
Or short video content series like BuzzFeed’s Tasty:
Not, we know what you’re thinking:
“Mmm, strawberries and cream crepes.”
“Fine, so social media belongs in this category. But why is it an important strategy for inbound marketing?”
That’s exactly what we’re onto next.
But Don’t Get Cracking Without a Social Media Strategy
Using social media for inbound without an appropriate strategy can be just as damaging for your business as not using it all, or even worse…
Words live forever on the internet so you have to choose them carefully. So… how???
We’ll help you navigate it.
Here’s your high-level plan – and by the way, we recommend you consult our Digital Marketing Strategy template for any digital thing you do:
|1. Set SMART goals||Start big and work down. Do you need to increase customer loyalty?|
|2. Define your target audience||Don’t just use demographics but expand with psychographics. What does your audience love? Hate? Find funny?|
|3. Decide on your media||Decide on which digital media will help you connect with your audience. Will this take the form of a blog, video, podcast, etc.?|
|4. Create a strategy||Focus on a social network that adds value. Just because a network has over a hundred million active users doesn’t mean it will directly contribute to your brand’s objectives.|
|5. Measurement and testing||What does success mean to you? You need to constantly analyse your social media strategy to understand its effectiveness. Engage with your audience, and find out what works and what doesn’t.|
And now let’s see what that might look like for real with a mock strategy.
Now, you’re no longer you. You’re a company in the fitness/dance niche that wants to reach more people and create a strong community online:
- You know your audience is primarily female, 22-40 years old, and they’re mostly using Instagram with a little bit of Facebook on the side.
- They love the community feel you already have in the studio
- The goal is 6,000 engaged followers on Instagram in six months
- Your audience are dancers, so you can really get creative with videos
- You’ll also want to encourage participation so you may post challenges, questions, polls, etc. and make sure to repost and respond to everything
- You can measure your progress using Instagram’s analytics and optimise as you go
Okay, confession: this isn’t fictional. We used Dance Church as an example.
That’s kind of what they did – and it worked wonders. Look at them go:
How wholesome. That could be you!
Hopefully, you get the idea because we’re almost out of words.
Struggling? Need an Expert Opinion? You Know Who To Call!
And no, it’s not ghostbusters.
It’s Growth Gurus.
We happen to know a thing or two about this – and by now, you understand the importance of social media marketing, too.
So you know why it matters for your inbound marketing.
It can give you amazing results for a relatively low price by connecting you with your target audience and driving them closer to conversions.
Want to make sure you’ve got it all figured out?
Get in touch, and we’ll be happy to look over your social media marketing strategy and help you reach heights you never thought possible!