It’s easy to feel like having a social media marketing strategy is key to engaging with your customers today. But, is that really the case? Do you have something to share with your customers or potential leads that can’t be achieved through your existing marketing efforts? If not, social media may not be truly “missing” from your marketing strategy at all.
Why Get On Social Media?
This is the big question to ask when considering whether or not a social media marketing strategy is right for your company. Why do you need one?
Answers that are NOT good include:
- Our competitors are.
- We don’t want to be left out.
- We want to look like we’re up-to-date.
- Everyone else is, aren’t we supposed to?
One big mistake companies can make on social media is to think that by just “showing up,” they’ll get credit with their customers. This approach typically backfires pretty quickly. That is, unless your entire social media marketing strategy is to just prove that you exist.
Still, existing with nothing to say could wind up losing you more credibility than it gains.
A second common misuse of social media is to think of it as another channel to broadcast advertising on. While it can be used for that purpose, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to use it.
Social media provides a unique opportunity that is likely missing from the other pieces of your marketing strategy: Conversing directly with your customers. This is not talking at them, but instead with them on topics they (and you as a company) find interesting and worthwhile.
What Platform(s) Should You Be On?
This is a very personal piece of your social media marketing strategy that you’ll only be able to answer after asking yourself a few other questions. Questions like:
Where are our customers?
It would be fruitless to put all your efforts into a social media platform if only a small percentage of your target audience is active on that platform. Your customers (and especially your potential customers) won’t sign up just to follow you. You need to find and join them to get the conversation started.
What do you have to say?
Different platforms lend themselves better to different kinds of conversations. Sometimes, a multi-level approach is necessary. Others, only signing up for one platform and really building a presence there would be most effective. Learn the differences between the social media platforms your customers are already active on and decide which would best speak to them with the type of conversation you plan to have. Also, know that adjustments can always be made as that conversation is molded by your interactions.
How often will you be on it?
Again, different social media platforms work best for “real time” (pretty much every day) or for longer stretches between updates. The same goes for short, quick outputs vs. more thought-out narratives.
How do you want your customers to converse with you?
Lastly, when considering platforms, it’s important to think about how you want your customers to reply to you.
- Do they need to be already actively “following” or “friends” with you, or can anyone reply?
- Do you want to lead forums, or host large conversations with many people at once?
- Do you more or less want them to react to what you have to say, or do you want them to be able to begin the conversation as well?
Answering these different questions will help determine which social media platform(s) would work best for your marketing strategy.
How Will You Know You’re Successful?
Because of the unique interaction social media provides, measuring your return on investment (ROI) for this piece of the puzzle is likely going to be different from what you are accustomed to. Social media often is not measured in dollars or sales, for example, but in the growth and health of a community.
After all, constantly sending out messages asking people to buy something is no different than broadcast advertising through another channel. This is more often than not not going to lead to success with social media.
Goals give you something to measure.
To measure community, tie results to the goals you set for the community, which often isn't profit. #cmgrchat
— David Spinks (@DavidSpinks) October 1, 2014
I’ve mentioned before the importance of setting goals for your website. The same applies to your social media marketing strategy, or really any piece of your marketing strategy. At the outset, you should have an idea of what you feel will make the effort worthwhile.
Determining your overall goals will help establish a plan for your social media efforts. This, in turn, will help you keep momentum to continue the conversation, particularly at the beginning, so that your presence won’t become stagnant.
How Do You Get Started?
Working with an agency can be helpful in determining a plan for your social media marketing strategy. Once that’s established, we strongly feel it is important for you to be in charge of your own social media efforts on a day to day basis. Again, this speaks to the unique qualities of social media.
Why outsource the conversation with your clients when it’s you they really want to talk to?
Header image ©mkhmarketing via Flickr.