A study published by the Social Media Examiner unveiled several interesting statistics about how marketing professionals are leveraging social media in 2012. The study found that the majority of marketers, 59%, are using social media for 6 hours or more a week; 33% are dedicating 11 or more hours weekly. On the higher end, nearly 15% spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.
The study not only covered how much time marketers dedicate to social media; it also reported on the specific benefits:
- 69% of respondents reported social media marketing led to an increase in traffic.
- 58% reported lead generation was a benefit.
- 40% reported increased sales attributed to social media efforts.
This data begs the questions: How did these marketers produce these results? What about the 31% of marketers who didn’t see an increase in traffic? What are they not doing that the others are doing?
There are different factors at play, but they all point to one overarching reason: social media marketing success doesn’t happen overnight; it’s an investment that takes time and ongoing work.
Two Critical Factors to Long-Term Social Media Success
Time is the first key ingredient to your long-term social media success. Social Media Examiner’s study asked respondents to indicate how many hours per week they dedicated to social media, and whether or not they saw improved sales from these efforts. The results show that those who consistently put in the time, week after week, saw the best results. Of the marketers who spent 30 or more hours per week on social media, 65% reported increased sales directly linked to those efforts.
Experience is another factor. The longer you’ve been working at it, the more returns you will see. There was a striking correlation, as shown in the graph below, between the number of years marketers had been investing in social media and the improvement in sales. Those marketers with 3 or more years of experience were most likely to report an increase in sales attributed to social media:
So how can you achieve these gains using social media?
1) Set specific goals
What are your social media marketing goals? Are you trying to drive a record amount of traffic to your website? Or maybe you need to generate a certain number of qualified leads by the end of the month. There are a couple of simple ways you can calculate goals. If you have historical data on your social media metrics, you can develop a schedule of goals based on a target growth rate. So if I generated 1,000 social media leads last month and I want to achieve 20% growth month over month, my goals in the upcoming months will be 1,200, 1,440, 1,728, and so on.
Alternately, you can base your social media targets on your overall marketing goal. In other words, you can work backwards from the overall number — let’s say it’s a leads goal — by determining what share of your total goal will be supported by your social media efforts. For example, if you want to generate 10,000 total leads this month, you could commit your social media channel to a contribution of 8% (800) of those leads.
By setting specific quantitative goals up front, you will be able to prioritize your efforts and determine where your time is best spent. Your goals will also drive the type of content that you create and the calls-to-action you use. So if you’re trying to generate new leads who are interested in, say, unicorn footwear, you know you should spend your time building an information-rich offer on unicorn footwear that you’ll promote on your social media accounts via a dedicated landing page.
2) Determine which social networks will let you to reach your goals
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