Social media referrals are living on the edge – or at least they are somewhere near according to a Monetate’s data for the first quarter. The analysis shows that search optimization and email continues to bring in most referrals, while social media is the ‘last-click channel of attribution’.
Some businesses say otherwise. Wixon Jewelers Online Marketing Director Jayme Pretzloff thinks that social media is going to be more important for sales than any other metric in 2013, as the platform continues to receive user acceptance and integrates into the overall marketing strategy.
70% consumers suggested that social media didn’t have any impact on their purchase decision in 2011, a percentage that was cut in half in 2012. Such statistics provide helpful insights to marketers as they look to make the most out of their time and investment.
Policies of social media companies also had a significant impact on referrals. There was a time when a post on Facebook fan page was seen by every follower/fan of the brand, but after policy changes, any post shared by a brand today is only seen by 10% of the total number of people following the page. Unfortunately, and fortunately for Facebook, you now need to pay for greater outreach.
This also shows that just because a particular social network has a huge user base doesn’t mean it’s an ideal place to get referrals. For example, tech sites usually concentrate a lot on Facebook, but they would be better off with Google+.
Likewise, a DIY jewelry brand may not get any retweets, but drive loads of traffic from Pinterest. Trying and testing the engagement ratio (the percentage of fans responding/number of fans present on the page) on different sites can help your brand to create a better online experience.
It is also important to note at this point that though referrals through social media are crucial for brand awareness, you shouldn’t give a wide berth to other referral resources. Doing so would be a BIG mistake. This is because social media doesn’t have the same level of intimacy as other sources of referrals like face-to-face networking, phone call, live chat etc.
The right approach
Some brands are smart enough to use all sources. For example, Blinds.com, told us “We encourage customers to refer Blinds.com on social media, and we also invite customers to contact us via phone or live video chat if they have any questions about our products. Referrals are important to us, as is customer retention; over 60% of our business comes from referral or repeat customers.” Food for thought.
However, other forms of referral networking can turn out to be inefficient, which is the main reason why social media referrals have a future in business marketing. It’s not a surprise to see businesses, especially new ones, struggle at networking events. The end result can be hours spent at a networking, only to walk away with a couple of business cards (Zoinks).
Social media, when being used as a major referral tool, should be supported by creative and relevant content. Businesses that establish themselves as credible and trustworthy providers of fun, inspiring and highly engaging content will be able to reach thousands of prospects through social channels. It requires a significant amount of time and investment, so it’s time that you take a closer look at your customer preferences and content sharing strategy.
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