During the past year, we have seen in an unprecedented way, how much influence social media can have. From the White House to #metoo to #TakeAKnee, the breadth and depth of the reach of social media is expanding … and expanding … and expanding. There is now no denying the importance of social media and no excuse for not putting it to work for your business and your brand.
Where ya at?
Ready, set, open up an account on every social media platform from Periscope to Snapchat. Just kidding. There are a few social media platforms out there for us to choose from (206, according to Wikipedia) and sustaining a presence on every one of them is neither feasible nor necessary. Start with your buyer persona research and find out where your persona hangs out online, and most importantly, why they're there. In order to determine your brand's goals for each platform, you need a strong argument to justify using a social platform. Don't have a Pinterest account because it seems like the thing to do; instead, get one because you know your persona spends time on that platform in a way that aligns with your goals.
Brands are pouring increasing resources into content and strategy to increase social following, but it's important to remember that social capital is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. You need to be working towards ROI-aligned goals, not just the stuff that feels good, like passing a follower milestone or getting 80 likes on your sunset photo. Here are some goals you might have:
- to establish your brand as a thought leader in the industry
- to drive leads into your sales funnel
- to increase subscribers to your blog
- to drive talent recruitment and increase applicant pools
- to re-engage customers and drive UCG (user-generated content)
Build your social media strategy around S.M.A.R.T. goals (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) and key performance indicators that are tied to your overall marketing efforts. Segment those goals by platform if necessary, like using Instagram to showcase company culture and support recruitment and LinkedIn to accrue blog subscribers and establish thought leadership.
Also: strategy first
There aren’t very many things we do without some level of planning and social media should not be the exception, no matter how tempting it might be to fly by the seat of your hilarious pants. So, when developing a social media marketing strategy, your first step is to assess who you want to follow and who you want to follow you. This “identify and follow” methodology helps you set a baseline for expanding your reach and is a must for growth. You share the content of others and they in turn share yours and everyone gains followers, the golden fleece of social media marketing.
To keep your strategy current, it’s also essential to be informed about your industry, what topics, keywords, and hashtags are trending, who’s movin’ and who’s shakin’, and so on. And don’t forget to also keep a close eye on your competition, because you can bet they are keeping one on you! Spending time now and then scrolling through competitors and industry leaders (and comedians that make you laugh, and that guy from that movie) is crucial for a little content inspiration.
what to monitor, how to measure
Once you’re in the social media game, it becomes necessary to monitor and measure your progress. First, monitor to track the emotional reception of your posts — who’s saying what and how your brand is being viewed by the public. Second, measure the actual results associated with your social media and your brand over time for purposes such as showing ROI and guiding decision making. The second worst thing you can say about social media marketing is that you feel like it's working.
While measuring is essentially a numeric function delivering statistical information, monitoring can serve many purposes beneficial to your brand. For example, when you’re monitoring Twitter and see a customer has posted kudos for the great product or service your company provided, you have the perfect opportunity to acknowledge and thank that customer, making them happy, and showing the public that your company is on top of it and appreciative. This is known as social media listening.
- Monitoring is keeping an eye on what’s going on
- Listening is actively engaging and responding promptly when appropriate
When you begin compiling this information over time and see trends develop, you can craft your social media strategy with much more precision and look forward to even greater success.
Remember the good old days when networking (i.e., meeting up with actual humans) was a thing? These days social media platforms are the meeting place and the conversation is dictated by the number of characters allowed and the ability of the writer to determine and reach the target persona comprising potential leads. This requires at least a rudimentary knowledge of social media platforms to help you craft the right message to the people most likely to be listening in that “meeting place.”
For example, LinkedIn is still the best business networking platform, operating in a way that is very similar to old fashioned networking, by introducing yourself, sharing expertise and knowledge, endorsing others, and being endorsed by them. This is the new-fangled word-of-mouth that helps you stay relevant and present without ever leaving your desk or picking up a phone. LinkedIn is getting really hot right now for B2B marketing and we are seeing success with its lead generation ads due to its precise targeting capabilities.
Most important of all, however, is to know social media platforms are dynamic and ever changing. Complacency is not allowed, and vigilance is mandatory. Spend time getting to know (and love!) LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Instagram to determine which combination will work best for your strategy.
Dealing with the dark side
It’s awesome that social media provides a place for your customers and clients to show their delight with your company, but it is also the perfect place for posting complaints. And people do, all day every day. When this happens to you, however, you are also empowered by the speed of social media to address and resolve the problem quickly and to the poster’s satisfaction.
What you do not want to do is:
- Delete negative comments — once they are posted, it can only make you look bad, even dishonest or uncaring.
- Ignore negative comments — remember that people are watching so the sooner you address and resolve the issue, the more likely you are to be perceived as caring, competent, and service oriented.
- Become defensive about negative comments — Always take a deep breath, think about your response before you reply (absolutely no shooting from the hip allowed!), and keep customer delight top of mind.
Now for some fun!
The inherently dynamic nature of social media makes it a great venue for marketing via video. As a result, video is fast becoming an essential piece of any marketing strategy as viewing continues to skyrocket. But establishing the “where and when” for posting videos requires research and knowledge of your intended audience and the different platforms.
For example, you want to learn the viewer statistics for each platform. This includes demographic information like gender and geographic location to determine if a platform will reach your intended audience/persona. It’s also essential to determine what kind of video is most popular on which platform. Take the case of 360-degree videos that first took off on Facebook but are now everywhere, and ephemeral content born as Snapchat stories and transposed onto other platforms, like Instagram.
Another consideration is whether or not live video (aka live streaming) should be in your mix. When you consider that comments are 10 times more prevalent from Facebook Live viewers than from viewers of regular videos, it certainly deserves consideration. Thankfully, there’s plenty of room for experimentation with live video so you can start with a sure bet and tweak from there. Ideas include live streaming for or from an event, giving a behind-the scenes tour, or training on a product or service your company offers. The more video you can develop and post, the more comfortable you will become, until one day you’ll realize you’re actually having fun!
You’re a winner!
Social media is a lot of work, but it can also pay off big time. One of the most effective uses of social media is to hold a contest or sweepstake. With very little investment you can entice a lot of people to engage with you, share your posts, and keep coming back to stay up-to-date and win something. But there’s plenty to figure out up front before you start posting invitations and enticements.
Not only do you need to decide what type of contest you will hold, but how people can enter, what you hope to achieve, how best to promote the contest, and many more little devils residing in the details. As with all things social media, your success will correlate to how well your messaging matches up to your audience:
- are you giving away something your followers (and ideal potential followers) really want and want to tell others about?
- is the contest easy to enter? (rules may increase with difficulty in proportion to size of prize)
Clearly, social media marketing is complicated and complex, but what it’s not is optional. Social media is here to stay, it’s as much a part of life as air and water, and it’s ever-changing (as we learned in this latest algorithm change). At InVerve Marketing, a HubSpot gold partner, we specialize in crafting social media and other digital content to meet the specific goals of each client. If your company needs expert advice or assistance with social media, contact us today!