Facebook and other social media services can provide great support to energy marketers as they try to reach new customers and strengthen relationships. That is the message delivered by PriMedia Inc.’s Jenna Beneski during a presentation at the recent Southern New England Energy Conference.
In a presentation entitled Content and Community: Generating Business Opportunities Through Social Media, Beneski offered several reasons why social media is an important marketing channel:
- 50 percent of brands attribute increased sales and revenue to social media.
- Social media drives nearly 5 percent of all leads for small-to-medium sized businesses.
- 78 percent of people say a company’s social media posts influence their purchasing decisions.
- 73 percent of consumers say they are likely to buy from a brand that responds to them on social media.
Companies that use social media effectively can reap numerous benefits, according to Beneski. It improves connections with current customers, exposes companies to new potential customers, and creates opportunities for engagement with both current and potential customers.
Leading Them In
Engaging customers is beneficial, because an engaged prospect can become a customer, and an engaged customer can become a sales lead for a service or product that they are not currently buying.
The grist for social media engagement is online content that is valuable and interesting to social media consumers. This could be expert articles that the company creates about energy efficiency, energy audits, fuel conversion and other topics of interest. It can also be important articles from other sources, such as news outlets or government agencies that address energy, comfort and related topics.
Marketers can speak with an authoritative tone about energy topics and assume a more casual, personal tone about community events and company news, Beneski said. The goal is to combine tone and content to create social media posts that are unique to the marketer.
Facebook is a particularly good platform for energy marketers to tap, because it is widely used in all homeowner age brackets, which means that companies can connect with their target audiences there. She said Facebook uses a filtered feed which makes it difficult to companies to get in front of people for free – even customers and others users who “like” their pages.
One of the best ways to make connections on Facebook is through the use of “boosted posts,” which are one of Facebook’s advertising channels, according to Beneski. She said it is easy and affordable for companies to get their best posts in front of many homeowners within their markets. Facebook enables companies to choose target audiences based on factors such as geographic area, home ownership, income level, age, gender and interests.
She gave an example based on Newport. R.I. (where the Southern New England Conference was taking place) in which a company targeted an audience of homeowners in Newport ages 30 to 55 who are likely to purchase home improvement products and services. To reach 5,700 users in that demographic, Facebook would charge $15, which is a rate of $2.63 per thousand impressions. That price is nearly identical to the national average for Google AdWords charge for the same size audience and considerably lower than cable television, radio and print advertising, she pointed out.
Companies can use Facebook to generate business by crafting effective posts that are likely to attract attention and “boosting” them frequently to a tightly targeted audience at a reasonable cost, according to Beneski.
When companies use social media to post links to their own websites, they also can accumulate social signals that can positively influence page ranking in search.
Social media activities help a company optimize its web presence, which is essentially the business footprint in local search. When a company claims and maintains its listings in all local business directories, uses Angie’s List and Yelp, and makes good use of social media and pay-per-click advertising, it can have multiple appearances in search results. When local customers go online to find products or services that you sell, a strong web presence makes it highly likely that they will see the company’s name wherever they look. “These areas all work together,” Beneski said. “They each have a purpose, and they often influence one another.”
She recommended that companies get the most out of their online content by repurposing work they are already doing, such as newsletter articles, blog posts, magazine articles, press releases and webpage copy.
Once they are active in social media, companies should monitor engagements to find out who is liking their content, who is commenting on it and sharing it, and what content is getting the most traction, Beneski added.