Many mid-sized Australian businesses are overlooking social media's potential as a business tool to their detriment, according to Tracey Jarvis from social media agency Xpand Online. Xpand sampled over a hundred B2B businesses' social media profiles and found many use social media as an afterthought. What these companies fail to realise is that they can be missing out on thousands of dollars and lost business opportunities by doing so.
'Social media is an essential business tool because people use platforms like Facebook to gather information, read articles and watch videos related to their business - and doing this on their phones now more than ever before. Facebook have introduced many new features and business solutions that benefit B2B, mid-market companies. In addition, Facebook Ads effectively can drive cost effective leads for your business more than any other paid channel and skyrocket conversion rates. So it amazes me how many companies do not have a clear social media strategy in place and are often leaving it in the hands of a junior," says Managing Director of Xpand Online, Tracey Jarvis.
Xpand conducted a sample research of over 100 mid-sized Australian businesses' Facebook and other social channels and many are guilty of the following mistakes:
Not utilising video as content
Talking about products but not their brand story
Posting content that is not connecting to their audience
Not knowing what their audience care about and posting about things that do not matter – for instance a snapshot of lunch
Not leading people from their website to their social media pages
Not having a clear strategy in place
Not having branding or logos on post images
Not having a -voice' or brand personality
So what should they be doing? 'The right social media strategy will depend on your business," says Tracey 'For instance, if you have a longer sales cycle, you need to influence decision makers wherever and whenever they do research, so that means you need a strong mobile and social strategy."
Tracey is excited by where social media for B2B is headed. 'In 2017, there is scope to do so much more creative work, reach so many more prospects, and delight existing customers in many more ways via social media. I really enjoy bringing a business' social brand story to life through engaging visual images and video. Every company has a social story to tell, that I just love bringing to life," she says.
Xpand Online is a Social Media Marketing Agency operating for nearly 9 years. They specialise in result driven social media strategies that achieve; sales, lead generation, new customers, and brand recognition. We achieve this through the following activities; social advertising, content creation video & images, and social data analysis.
Question: Why is social media essential for Australian business?
Tracey Jarvis: Everyone uses social media. Australians are spending more and more time on their smartphones using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to socialise – but more importantly… to make purchasing decisions.
Businesses need to realise that when social media is implemented correctly it can be very powerful in getting a brand in front of the right target audience.
There are so many tools and targeting options available in the Facebook platform that a social media agency or expert could be assisting businesses even SMBs
Question: How are Australian businesses shooting themselves in the foot by using social media incorrectly?
Tracey Jarvis: I have business owners and marketing managers get in touch with me all the time - and it's usually after they have spent a year trying to make social media work in-house with no idea of how to track the ROI of their social activity or the appropriate KPIs that are best for their social media objectives. This is not an easy thing to do without out the advice of a Social Media Specialist. There are so many intricacies to using Facebook and Instagram strategically, and these platforms evolve and change every day.
Australian businesses and marketer's alike need to realise that social media channels are an important component of their integrated marketing communications mix. To get the best out of it, they should seek the help of experts in the area, even if it is getting some in to put the right strategy and systems in place.
Question: What are examples of common incorrect social media use?
Tracey Jarvis: Where do we start? Not allocating a sufficient budget for social media in general – for instance, not boosting posts is a big one. Your Facebook posts will not reach your entire fan base – it is a privilege you have to pay for and placing $5 behind a post will go a long way. Another one would be not setting up correct tracking on your advertising. Other mistakes include not realising the full potential of the targeting options available on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and paying an in-house resource who is not experienced to roll out a social media strategy that will provide the business with ROI.
Question: What detrimental effects does incorrect social media use have on a business, long term?
Tracey Jarvis: Businesses miss a massive opportunity by not amplifying their brand in front of a large enough audience. There are so many new targeting options that can be fed into a business's CRM using custom lists and segmentation. This is a massive opportunity – especially for those businesses that have spent the last decade building up a solid email list!
By not using social media properly, they are not reaching target audiences, they risk wasting precious marketing dollars and resources, and they risk handing their business over to a competitor who's more savvy at utilising social media.
Question: How can the correct use of social media increase business opportunities and profit?
Tracey Jarvis: A well-considered social media strategy that speaks to your business objectives and helps tell your brand story to the right target audience will go a long way in helping you achieve revenue and stronger brand awareness. I've seen businesses thrive on social media and more importantly be able to track the conversions and revenue that is attributed to social media. If your social media activity is set up correctly – the sky is the limit!
In my nine years working in social media, I've found that outsourcing social media entirely to an agency works for some companies, for others what works well is having a resource working in-house to manage the day-to-day social media community tasks while working in conjunction with specialists who provide high level strategy and implementation support.
Question: Can you explain what a suitable social media strategy would involve?
Tracey Jarvis: Firstly, I'd find out what the objectives of the business are – for instance, is it to build revenue or is it to raise awareness for the brand? Also determining what kind budget and resources were available is important when planning out a strategy. Then I'd determine the correct brand pillars and start crafting a content plan around these – video and animation would always be top of mind while going through this process. The strategy would also need to be inclusive of paid advertising. Even if there is just a small budget of a few hundred dollars – this will assisting in reaching the relevant target audiences.
Question: What advice do you have for Australian companies regarding social media?
Tracey Jarvis: Invest some of your marketing budget into social media, get the right advice from experts and consultants and make sure you are measuring all your activity using the correct metrics and set your business and team KPIs to maximise your ROI.
Question: Can you share with us what's next in social media trends?
Tracey Jarvis: Chatbots are on the rise to help manage the ever-growing volume of inbound customer service messages businesses are getting though Facebook messenger.
Advertising on Messenger - While Messenger and Facebook looks like the same on your PC, they are two different platforms. You see this more clearly when you use messenger on phone. Now there's a new option to advertise in Messenger itself, on top of Facebook.
Facebook Live is becoming a new norm and allowing business to welcome audience into the community in real-time. Instagram stories are also becoming more popular.
Facebook Groups have completely taken off, with admins monetising within the groups.
Snapchat's audience is on the rise, so from a brands prospective they should be starting to look at how to incorporate this platform into their social strategy.
Nearly all businesses should have a Facebook and Instagram strategy in place by mid 2018 (or they will be extremely left behind).
Interview by Brooke Hunter