Many businesses have integrated social media into their marketing mix. It is always easy to determine companies that mapped out a strategy ahead of time and companies that didn’t. The truth is, if you want your social media marketing campaign to be successful, you really need to be using it correctly. To use it correctly means there must be a strategy in place.
Using social media correctly gives businesses the opportunity to engage with their customers in new ways, be more personable, and develop new relationships. Social media has changed the world of marketing. Brands are no longer finding the consumer; consumers are now finding the brand. Since consumers are finding the brand, the brand needs to be reaching out and attracting the consumers in. Whether it is through creating conversation, holding contests, or just a fun and attractive appearance, this important aspect must not be overlooked.
Understanding this principle is an important factor in developing a social media marketing strategy. Marketers need to realize that traditional ways of thinking won’t necessarily work anymore. Instead of studying demographics about their target market, they need to get out there and join the conversation and create an atmosphere that attracts their customer in.
Step 1: Research and Listen
You will need to answer the following questions in step 1: who, what, why, where, and how?
o Is your audience?
o What problems does your audience have that you can solve for them?
o Problems do you or does your company solve for them?
o Why are they buying from you?
o What actions would you like to take (enquire, order, buy, connect)?
o What value do you bring your customers/audience?
o What proof can you offer them – credibility indicators, guarantees, testimonials, etc.?
o Are your customers/audience – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.?
o What kind of company are you?
o What is the look and feel of your company?
o What tone of voice do you use?
o What would buyers type into Google to find you?
o Marketing tactics and content strategy – how will you use the different social media platforms for your business?
Once you determine who your audience is and where they are, you can begin your research. Tools, such as Twitter Advanced Search, are ways you can start listening to conversations. You can search by keywords, phrases, hashtags, and much more. Setting up tools to monitor conversations is easy; deciding which keywords to use is the hard part.
Once you find people and start listening to what they’re saying you will begin to determine their issues, opinions, and needs. This information will help you understand how to best contribute to the conversation and properly go about reaching out to your audience.
Step 2: Identify Goals and Objectives
In addition to company goals, you must consider your audience’s goals. It is essential to offer your audience something of value if you want to succeed with social media marketing. Take a step back and begin to write down what your audience will find valuable.
By offering your audience valuable content, your company will soon be looked at as a credible source and even an industry leader. You know your business and industry very well, why not offer some of that knowledge and insight to your customers and show them that?
Step 3: Develop a Plan
Map out your approach to delivering your products or services to satisfy the needs of your audience. Are you going to run a special promotion for users on social media platforms? Will you provide free samples? How will this be delivered?
There are many ways to approach your audience. However, you need to be creative. If your competitor did it one way, don’t think that you can do it better by doing it the same way. You need to be creative and innovative.
Make sure you have a blog. You will provide valuable content on your blog and link it to the other social media platforms your business has a presence on. You will slowly begin to build a community. But remember, social media marketing success does not happen overnight.
Step 4: Engage
Now to the fun part! Start commenting on other blogs, upload images to Flickr, and tweet at your audience on Twitter. Do whatever it takes to help further the discussion and illustrate your company’s commitment to developing online relationships. It is also essential to get your employees involved with the engagement step as well (and eventually the social media marketing campaign).
Keep in mind that there are many social media platforms out there and that it is ok to start with one or two that make the most sense. Having an engagement strategy will help focus on areas for engagement and will help in measuring success.
Step 5: Measure Success
Unlike other campaigns, social media success starts out by asking questions:
- Did we learn anything new about our customers that we didn’t know before?
- Did our customers learn something from us?
- Did we engage our customers in new conversation?
This is a good way to see if you have met your goals and objectives. Defining your metrics for success beforehand will allow the measuring process to go more smoothly.
Measuring social media campaigns can become a bit tricky since the medium is conversational. I would recommend measuring web traffic increases due to social media efforts and the percentage of participants that were influenced by your involvement in conversations through social media.
Good metrics will show you what is and what isn’t working. This will allow for tweaks in your social media strategy. Never be afraid to abandon one tactic or social media tool if it isn’t working.
The payoff for a social media marketing campaign is huge. Companies have the ability to see how they are perceived by their target audiences, are able to establish conversations with key people, and are able to empower their customers to speak with them, not at them. Without a strategic approach to social media, it will be very hard to succeed.
The Discovery Communications Group is an award-winning, fully-integrated marketing agency located in Salem, NH, that specializes in professional web design, search engine optimization, and social media marketing strategy. DCG also provides printing and mailing services to meet every advertising need, servicing clients throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts.