That might seem counterintuitive in a world bombarded with social media platforms, never-ending status updates and hundreds of thousands of smartphone applications, but those who are able to cut through the clutter might find it to be true.
In fact, arguably one of the best ways to reach new auction clients today, decades or even centuries ago — word-of-mouth — might be just as viable a method online as it is offline.
“What we’ve always known is that word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of marketing,” says Justin Goldsborough, Vice President for the Consumer Group at Fleishman-Hillard, Kansas City, Mo.
“Social media is a great way to a) watch that in action or b) put a little fuel to the fire and hopefully give people an opportunity to be talking about your (company).”
One thing that might provide auction professionals even more reassurance is the idea that they don’t have to use more than one or two of the social networks crowding the Internet.
Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter are emerging from the pack, which means auction companies can conduct effective marketing campaigns using only those they’re most familiar with, according to social media professionals.
The challenge is in doing things right.
One of the first things to keep in mind, Goldsborough says, is social media is just another tool in an auction marketer’s toolbox. It’s part of an overall communications mix — including traditional print and email marketing — that should help Auctioneers directly target buyers wherever they are.
Social media marketing should focus on brand building, engagement and creating loyal clients, says Valerie Jennings, CEO of Jennings Social Media Marketing, Overland Park, Kan. Then, auction marketers have the opportunity to monetize customer interactions.
A marketing campaign might follow this approach:
1) Evaluate – Jennings says it’s important to first locate where on the Internet an auction company’s customers are hanging out, which most likely will be Facebook. She recommends marketers closely analyze their competition during this step.
2) Strategize – Search-engine optimization is just as important in social media marketing as it is for a company website. Jennings recommends auction professionals check out Google Keyword Tool to get a report on popular keywords that might drive traffic to social media properties or spark content ideas. Auction companies should know whether they want to get “likes,” page views or customer data from their marketing efforts.
3) Plan – For social media, Jennings says it’s important to build up a content library of posts and information that might last an auction company a few months. Marketers should curate content — gather and redistribute news from other sources — as well as produce original work that might appeal to customers. It’s important to develop timelines or editorial calendars to keep the plan in motion. She also recommends online press releases as part of the marketing mix.
4) Analyze – As a campaign is in progress, Jennings recommends regular monitoring of performance metrics using Google Analytics, Facebook Insights or another third-party analytics tool.