While businesses and online marketing agencies are now aware of the potential for engaging with consumers through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube, many are yet to discover a way to really monetize efforts made in the area. The key for businesses is to find their market and develop the right strategy to enhance overall conversion rates.

The positive aspects of using social media for online marketing are sometimes counterbalanced by the negatives. While we have a captive audience, keen for information and ready for engagement, we also have an audience who, for the most part, is highly sceptical of being marketed to in anything other than the most discreet and un-pressured manner imaginable.

While Twitter feeds and Facebook pages are considered worthwhile, and sufficiently unobtrusive, ways to engage with consumers for many businesses, for others they are simply too costly in time and effort to invest in when they are not seeing any clear monetary gain.

Traditional advertising

Whichever tactic produces a measurable positive ROI will be the one which businesses keep coming back to, and the ability to track traditional advertising models is attractive.

Banner ads remain a popular form of online marketing on any social platform which allows them. The difference with more popular social media-based ads is a certain level of creativity and interaction, reflecting the nature of social media itself. Users expect higher and higher levels of added value in return for their clicks through to the advertiser’s site.

Businesses which are able to tailor the appeal of their ads to their users will generally see the best conversion rates.

In-stream advertising

In-stream advertising is a simple way to use the target ability of social media platforms. Users are increasingly wary of any advertising getting in the way of their conversations, though, and responses can be hostile.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Disney and Coca-Cola have both recently tried out Twitter’s Promoted Trends , with Coca Cola reporting that they were ‘pretty pleased’ with the results.

Facebook news feeds are one example of businesses being able to make use of the word-of-mouth aspect of social media which is so effective, integrating the brand into an overall social media structure in what can appear to be a more natural way.

Capitalizing on content

Most businesses with established online marketing strategies will regularly create content for use online. However, a lot of the content can be used again in social spaces, giving a simple and cost-effective way of creating more of a presence on social networks.

Facebook’s media page suggests re-posting articles onto your page, creating a forum for real customer interaction regarding the content posted.

Harnessing UGC

Including user-generated content (UGC) and product reviews in marketing materials is one way of harnessing the powerful nature of social media, without getting in the hair of users while they connect with others online. Many brands find this a safe and controllable way to make marketing emails a lot more engaging, giving increased returns on the initial outlay of their CRM activities.

On-site UGC is another way to improve conversions, and not just by creating an attractive forum for users to engage with one another or have their say. Where there is an increased amount of product-related content, keyword diversity will help with Google rankings and can have a measurable inpact on inbound traffic.

Going mobile
Mobile Marketing To Stay Ahead Of Your Competition One of the "IF not the Biggest" growth areas at the moment – mobile technology – is driving some of the most innovative social media advertising. Smart phones represent a highly sociable medium with some entirely new opportunities for advertising. Foursquare, for example, can be a powerful way for brands to interact with users in the area, providing promotions and information which consumers can act on immediately.

Aiming high

Businesses which can be enterprising and innovative with social media opportunities, without pouring too much of their resources into ultimately unprofitable tactics, should be able to find routes into creating worthwhile social media strategies. Being open to tackle the new challenges and opportunities arising in every area of social media is the best way to explore marketing possibilities for the future.

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