Comment from guest bloggers
August 08 2012
Ben Green explains how the growth of social media can be used to maximise your marketing budget.
The rise of social media in everyone’s everyday life has been dramatic over the last few years, so it is increasingly important for businesses to embrace the social network platform and reap the benefits… but the key thing is doing it right.
51% of adults in the UK (information from Ofcom) are using social networking sites, driven in part by the rise of the smartphone with over a quarter of adults and nearly half of all teenagers now owning one. These figures are only set to increase over the next few years with the eventual launch of 4G in the UK.
A recent study by the Social Media Examiner showed that over 93% of B2B marketers use social networking sites to market their businesses which is very encouraging and shows that the medium is well established — even in the more traditional market places such as builders’ merchants.
One of the key things we have learnt as a manufacturer targeting through B2B and B2C is that social network platforms are a cost-effective tool as part of an overall marketing campaign, offering several benefits over more traditional channels. It’s very easy to get started and the learning curve is rapid, but the key thing is to have a strategy in place rather than just setting up a Twitter or Facebook page without any real thought or regular activity. Being the first in your industry with a presence isn’t always the best thing — it’s better to take your time and do it right.
For Alumasc Rainwater and Harmer Drainage, our initial objective with social media was to help build brand awareness and engage with our target audience on Twitter and Facebook. The strategy for Twitter was to build up a group of followers for our priority markets: specifiers, contractors, builders’ merchants and the end user. These platforms helped reinforce the key messages from our advertising campaigns and allowed our brands to develop an online personality that people could relate to.
We also learnt that posts shouldn’t always be too corporate. Followers need a balance of brand building, industry related light-hearted tweets and posts that stimulate and engage.
@AlumascRW is currently the top UK building product manufacturer tweeter on PeerIndex which we use as a standard benchmark; it’s a relative measure of your online social media capital based on three key components: Activity, Audience and Authority.
For companies who have been established for a long time, social networking is a great platform to promote longevity, especially through Facebook’s timeline and the image content sharing site Pinterest. Alumasc Rainwater dates back to 1942 so we are able to show our history and the legacy of the products over the last 70 years, this has stimulated great interest from our followers and the media, whilst helping to reinforce our core messages.
The social network platform can also play an instrumental part in new product launches such as the new Harmer Roof Drainage range, also in promoting project case studies or market innovations such as the launch of our Drainage Calculator software. We were able to post regular messages in a timely and targeted way improving the reach, speed and engagement in the marketplace.
Monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of social media is the final part of a good strategy for businesses. In an ideal world it would be great to see direct incremental business coming from your presence on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s not that simple. Other benchmarks can be set in place to analyse the effectiveness of your social activity — for instance, using programs such as PeerIndex as previously mentioned, identifying referred web visits through your web analytics program and reviewing the search rankings for your top keywords (for which new and frequent content is key).
Finally you can review the reach of your brand, key messages and resulting brand awareness by monitoring your coverage, references and retweets on social network platforms.
The initial cynicism towards the use of social networking as a valid form of marketing is rapidly being replaced with the realisation that it offers true value. With tight budgets and reduced marketing spend being a reality for most of us, maybe now is the perfect time to embrace it.
Ben Green is Marketing Manager for Alumasc Rainwater and Harmer Drainage.
8th August 2012
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