Marketing Using Social Media
It is true that there are not many companies that would be better without some form of social media marketing strategy, including SMEs and start-ups, who this post is particularly aimed at. No kind of marketing strategy comes in a one-size kind of solution. All businesses are different and therefore have specific needs. A strategy that is the right action for one organisation, may well be wrong for a different one. It is therefore crucial to take the right approach and use the right strategy. It is vital to remember that the strategy for digital marketing is just a part of the bigger plan of action with regards to marketing and sales.
All of these components work together with creative and smart propositioning of the brand to meet the financial goals addressed in the company’s business plan. This is an important relationship that cannot be highlighted too much. In order for a truly realistic marketing strategy to be established, all of the elements need to work in alignment.
When establishing this strategy, you need to think about your main goals. Think about your organisation and what you want to achieve by marketing using social media. Are you looking to enhance PR opportunities or awareness about your brand or are you simply looking to improve your sales? Maybe you are looking to promote specific services, products or are looking to engage with your customers or provide them with customer service.
It is not necessarily important what the actual goals you have are, it is more important that you actually have goals. In particular goals that are appropriate for your business plan and that can be achieved. After you have decided on these kinds of things, you can then put together a social media strategy that will successfully achieve them.
There are various factors that will undoubtedly determine your business goals, and B2B and B2C organisations will have different goals from one another. Factors such as
- An average sale’s value
- Chances of further purchases
- Service and product cross-promotion opportunities
- How long it takes for a sales conversion to complete
- Business size
- Target market volume
- Marketing budget value
- Customers and prospects’ Psychographics and demographics
Demographics Of Customers
It is also crucial if you want a successful social media marketing strategy that you identify the core messages for promoting your company, its services and products and understand your customers fully. Demographics are always vital to consider, as they help you to look at your suspect pool and quantify and qualify it. Though, it is just as insightful to analyse psychographics. These are metrics that give a broader understanding of your customers – their attitudes, values, interests, hobbies and lots more.
Emotional needs should also be considered with common rational drivers, when you are profiling your audience. Although you should already realise this, your position in your target market with regards to price v quality can also help you understand you identify value statements appropriate to businesses looking to enhance the process of their sales pipeline.
Research Into Competitors
A very efficient and effective way to build a successful strategy is also by researching the social media streams used by your competitors. You can either copy what they are doing or even do it better, but you also have the opportunity to avoid mistakes they made.
With this approach you can very quickly identify insights to give your strategy a solid foundation to work from. Research into competitors is normally done two ways – automatically and manually.
Automatic research involves utilising tools found online to analyse them based on data. While manual research involves reviewing social media platforms personally. Both forms of research are beneficial and should be conducted together, by someone who is appropriately qualified and experienced.
Social Media Platforms
If you are starting completely from nothing, it is important obviously to give some thought to the social media sites and platforms you are going to use – the ones that will allow you to engage with your key stakeholders. Key stakeholders include the likes of:
- Prospective and existing customers
- Prospective employees
- Any other interested individuals and groups.
The most popular social media platforms are the big guns like:
Although the last two are often omitted from these kinds of lists, they are great if you have a particular target audience or specific marketing strategy that calls for content sharing.
The above platforms can be categorised into two general groups –
- Platforms for engaging your audience (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- Platforms for content sharing (SlideShare, Google+, YouTube)
While Pinterest and Instagram stand out as being hybrids that offer benefits in terms of sharing content and engaging with your audience, not just for B2C organisations, but those involved in B2B as well.
Next on the agenda is resourcing and it doesn’t matter if you are using your own people or outsourcing to an appropriately experienced and skilled agency, you still need to be realistic with regards to the available resources you have for your social media marketing. This will help avoid spreading yourself too thinly over more social media platforms than you can actually accommodate.
It is worth remembering that it is far more advantageous to focus on just one or even two and doing it well, rather than failing badly at a three or more. You also need to bear in mind that social media can be done by virtually anyone, it is really that easy to do – but it’s not so easy to actually do it successfully. Just like other similar disciplines, you learn skills and you earn experience by repeatedly trying it over a long time period. Our recommendation is that if you want to get the best results possible, try to combine both outsourced resources with internal ones. No-one knows your organisation between then you and your team, so it is sensible to have them involved in the strategy of follower shaping, helping to deliver campaigns and agreeing on plans for content.
Unsurprisingly, if you are looking to have success on social media platforms, you need a solid list of followers. The only instance when this is less important is if your strategy for social media mainly involves advertising directly to your target audience. It is best to gain followers in natural way. Although there are many quick ways you can promote your social media accounts to increase your follow numbers.
Quality is also crucial. Although many people believe it to be the case, social media is not simply all about the numbers – it’s actually about quality. Quality is what makes sure your followers are credible and relevant. You should adopt the practice of reviewing the followers you have every week and removing any that don’t fit the profile. Avoid being too strict when culling your followers though, as it is likely that only a small number will be actual customers – most are just at the stage of being interested and therefore your content is relevant to them.
Following on nicely from the above, engagement is paramount. With content creation the main goal is always to create something that will be commented on positively, shared or even just liked by followers. Any one of these social media actions could mean that your post, your content is displayed on their feeds. This means that their audiences, their friends will see it and it could enhance and increase your exposure and help you reach an even wider section of the market. It is for this very reason that influencer marketing is so effective. Influencer marketing involves individuals with a considerable follower base in a particular psychographic or demographic promotes your company for a price in the best way that will engage with their followers.
Engagement has always been a two-way street though, meaning you have to ensure that you spend some time looking at other people’s content and feeds and share/comment/like their stuff too. Be supportive and positive and if people follow you, follow them back; if people message you, message them back. On a very base level it’s called being polite. Mutuality and positivity are key components to successfully running a social media strategy.
Build Strong Relationships
When you are trying to build strong relationships, you need to act in the most positive and best way you possible can. Social media is rife with negativity and it is easy to get drawn into it. When you come across or receive negative comments, the best approach to take is to respond with positivity and politeness and if this doesn’t have the desired effect, let it go and move on.
By now you probably realise that there are a certain percentage of people who use Facebook and Twitter who just want to cause misery and problems. It’s good to note that their negative behaviour is a reflection on them – not you. It is highly recommended though that you establish a social media marketing policy that ensures there are rules and guidelines outlined for how your associates and employees interact with any third parties through social media platforms. It is also advised that commercial reps create personal/business accounts for social media sites. Not only does this help to establish a more corporate-focused state of mind, but helps to provide a separation between personal life and work life. Continual assessment and training will also help to ensure social media platform guidelines are followed.
Take An Integrated Approach
Social media marketing works a lot better when it is in conjunction with an effective SEO and content marketing plan. When you create social media pages, they should profile your company while optimising for keywords and providing your users good experiences. The content you create and share should be dense with keywords that have high values. When you share through social media, traffic will be driven to your sit or wherever you are sharing content (such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram or SlideShare).
Content is therefore a key component that has a bearing on the success of your social media strategy. Obviously the topics and subject you cover will be determined on a number of different factors such as:
- Your goals outlined in your business plan
- The kind of business you are
- The products you are selling
- Who your target audience is
Therefore, the best way to approach this is by providing a wide range of posts covering:
- Your services and products
- Special deals and promotions
- Strategic campaigns
- Content from third parties
- Anything with added value, intellectual property and thought leadership
The content you create can be in any form from blogs and videos to newsletters, white papers and much more.
Social Media Platform Advertising
Generally speaking, PPC advertising is a lot more expensive than social media advertising, making it very appealing. It is often an effective way when used properly, to advertise content hosted on third party platforms, encourage referrals, encourage participation in surveys and polls, promote services and products, generate leads, attract new customers and so much more.
Social media advertising can also be easily tailored for making conversions, measuring the cost per acquisition. Furthermore, it can be used to target your audience very directly by matching against behavioural/psychographic/demographic profiling, lookalike audiences and as you are probably aware, email databases.
You can drive web traffic continually through re-marketing. This involves advertisements of your services, products, brand, company or whatever being posted on third party sites and platforms to users who have previously browsed or purchased from your site.
Obviously, measurement is incredibly vital. After all, who really enjoys spending their hard-earned money without really knowing how it will benefit them or if it has any value? You can measure and assess various things through social media including sales conversion, website traffic and follower growth.
Always ensure that your goals and analysis KPIs match up. To ensure that you are making progress with your strategy, you need to measure your social media marketing performance regularly. There will always be things you can try and test. Overall this is one of the best things about the majority of digital marketing, you can alter your approach very easily because you have results that show either way if your current strategy is working or not.
If you are looking to automate the process a little, there are some great tools available, like Sprout Social. Keep in mind though that automation is only useful to a certain degree. Human beings are not robots, so never ignore the personal touch. If a feed feels too robotic and automated, it will quickly lose our favour and that is how your customers and followers will feel about your own feeds too. Another effective tool is Sniply. This tool enables you to display advertisements that link to your website whenever people open third party site links- providing you with incremental quality traffic to your site. The great thing is that this is not just from your own followers, but anyone at all that clicks the link.
Hopefully, you have found this post to be useful for developing your company’s social media plan and you have a much better idea of what is next.