Social Media Marketing
And the Inbound Methodology
As the number of online marketing vehicles continues to grow, many business owners find themselves in a bit of a quandary. Not only are they wondering WHAT vehicles they need to employ to become effective marketers in an ever changing digital world, they are also unsure of HOW to use social media in many cases.
There was a great article in Inc. Magazine entitled, “Is Social Media Advertising or PR?”. The writer brings attention to the fact that the social world is a space yet to be defined in true practice. Many businesses consider social media a PR vehicle thanks to open dialogue and real-time value. Others think in terms of advertising and eventual sales – a space where conversations are bolstered by social offers and where measurable results help drive sales goals.
The conversations around social media are complex and will likely continue for a long time to come.
So Where Do You Start?
Scott Elser, writer for Inc., suggests,
“It really comes down to what you are looking to accomplish in social in the first place. The best way to decide is to look at the goals you use to define success.” – a viable piece of business advise considering there are no rules.
In practice, social conversations are likely contributing to both PR and advertising efforts in varying degrees; efforts which should be well aligned with your defined key performance indicators. Aside from the HOW though, one other very important factor mentioned in the article is the idea of metrics. It is imperative for businesses to begin to see how their efforts in the digital world are affecting the big picture. And while it is difficult to pinpoint a definitive ROI, it is not impossible to get a very good idea of how your efforts in various digital mediums are helping to drive sales – whether they play a supporting or a lead role.
Inbound marketing, a phrase conceived of and made popular by Hubspot, is a variation of the term “permission marketing” coined by Seth Godin in 1999 – the idea that marketers obtain permission before advancing to the next step in the sales funnel. Inbound goes a step further adding stepped content marketing and powerful metrics into the mix. In a very simple sense, marketers offer something of value at every step along the way in exchange for a like trade, such as a name and email address. They then have the power to “drip” value-added messaging and eventual sales pitches to their growing tribe and measure the success of these interactions along the way.
Hubspot is a system – a system where all your online marketing tools (social media, email outreach, blogs and other content) are accessible from one dashboard and your activity reports are delivered directly to your inbox. This system allows you to begin to see the strength and influence of your online mediums – where you are experiencing success and failure and where your time and efforts are best invested.
Whether your content mix is heavily weighted toward PR or slants more toward advertising – it will become increasingly important to be able to measure which tools and mediums are your most powerful vehicles.