Does social media really work? Ask customers

Weeding through the world of social media can be challenging.

It’s also one of the most rewarding marketing strategies a business has at its fingertips, say Las Vegans who are on the front lines.

“A lot of people try to do too much,” said Jesse Olive, Coldwell Banker’s director of marketing. “We wanted to do a few things the right way.”

At Coldwell Banker, Olive is in charge of the real estate company’s presence on various social media platforms such as YouTube, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter.

He said Coldwell Banker primarily uses third party content and asks its agents to share it on social media in an effort to reach more people.

“We want our agents to operate their own sphere of influwence so they can post original content and link back to our content,” Olive said. “That way we can look at who is going on our website and what they do while they’re on the website. We want to be the source for relevant information regarding real estate.”

When drafting a social media campaign, Olive said he pinpoints the overall goal and how to measure its success.

“If you’re not measuring the success than you lose your visibility as to how successful your efforts are,” he said.

According to Olive, social media campaigns should drive user action. In Coldwell Banker’s case, he wants users to sign-up for a home evaluation and to receive the real estate company’s monthly reports.

“We want to capture as much information as possible, which is what you should do on top of getting your message out there,” he said.

Facebook and LinkedIn, Olive said, have sophisticated reporting systems that measure everything from total clicks on a certain post to how many people visited the website.

For $100 a month, Coldwell Banker is able to boost its posts on social media so more people see them.

“We’re trying to build the number of likes on our Facebook page, which is a long-term thing and doesn’t require you to be too aggressive,” he said. “You don’t need a huge social media budget to be effective.”

According to Jeff Breeden, CPA at Las Vegas-based Stewart Archibald &Barney, LLP, the million-dollar question is how businesses can measure their return on investment on social media marketing.

“I believe that social media marketing must be used in conjunction with other marketing and public relations efforts, but it has proven difficult to track direct ROI on social media efforts alone,” he said. “It’s just another tool in our marketing tool box that must be used today to be relevant in the competitive business environment.”

Breeden said that businesses connecting with customers should be where their customers are.

“Twitter, SnapChat, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and others — some of which aren’t even invented yet — could all possibly be part of your strategy to connect with people that drive your business,” he said.

At MTO Café, owner Ben Sabouri said the restaurant has been on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter since it first opened downtown on South Main Street in October 2013.

“We started on social media from the time we opened and overtime we’ve developed a loyal and engaged fan base,” he said.

As a small business owner, Sabouri said social media is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies available.

“It’s one of the main streams of media that we can update on a regular basis,” he said. “It’s a great way to connect with people and there aren’t too many mediums to advertise in so it’s really key.”

According to Sabouri, he posts specials, events, catering information and articles about staff members on MTO’s social media pages.

To measure the success of social media campaigns, he said talking with his patrons is vital.

“We always ask our customers how they heard about us, what brought them in and where they saw us,” he said. “Over the course of the year and a half that we’ve been open, it’s been a great gauge for us.”

He added, “most people are happy to tell you how they heard about you… it all comes from interacting with guests.”

At Gavish Real Estate, owner Iddo Gavish said Facebook is the company’s strongest platform as it boasts nearly 20,000 likes.

“We inform the public of real estate market updates such as houses for sale and open houses,” he said. “But if all we talk about is real estate, people get tired of it so we also share information about local events so we’re a resource base for them, not just for real estate.”

Like Sabouri, Gavish said talking to his clients is one of the biggest ways to measure the success of his company’s social media campaigns.

“Any client that we deal with, we ask what they look for and how,” he said. “We’re also on so many platforms —everything from television to social media — so one works hand-in-hand with the other.”

At Gavish Real Estate, six college interns oversee the company’s social media presence, which has become a larger part of the company’s budget each year.

“Social media has evolved over the years,” Gavish said. “Initially it was an afterthought and it seemed like you had to do it, but today it’s the primary focus, it’s no longer an afterthought. If you don’t do it, you’ll be left behind.”

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