From dentists using YouTube to build trust, photographers using Pinterest to showcase their latest assignment or rural police forces using Facebook to track vehicle theft from farms, social media as a tool for communication can't be ignored. What's more, social media will steadily take over from email in the workplace as enterprise social network tools such as Yammer become more prevalent the momentum and impact of social media increases hugely day by day.
However, according to BNI, 75% of business owners have been 'put off' a particular company due to their poor use of social media so isn't it worth ensuring that your online brand presence presents a positive image?
Implementing a social strategy into your marketing mix demands exactly the same considerations as traditional channels and the same questions need to be answered, none more so than finding out exactly where your target market hangout in the online community and how they behave. Given the prominence of several platforms, many companies are tempted to place all their eggs in a few baskets or literally create a presence on every social media platform they can find. In either the case the results can be disastrous and simply fan the flames of the doubters.
Social platforms are not only great tools for communication (see our previous blog with more social media tips) but are also a fantastic research medium. Unlike most forms of quantitative and qualitative research, social media allows you to sit and observe your potential clients and competitors behaviour free of charge and if you're cheeky enough you may well be able to gain some valuable insight from your competition!
We've compiled a list of social media strategy tips that may help you:
Tip 1: Identify where your target market and competitors hangout and look to identify behavioural trends and common themes.
When creating a social strategy, it is as equally important to understand who your audience is as much as finding out where they hangout. Social media is a great tool for communication but don't forget that not everyone who finds your social media pages will speak your language. If you're targeting a local audience then you won't have a problem, but if you're targeting non-English speaking countries in Europe and possibly further field, don't forget that it's often the man on the street that you come up against in the social arena and not the fluent English speaking overseas representative. Then consider the other factors; how can we potentially communicate with an audience that lives across multiple time zones? How can we support different interests and cultures and do we have the resources available to manage the campaign efficiently?
Tip 2: Establish an overall strategy before you start posting messages in various languages and creating multiple profiles for each target country because depending on which platforms you implement, you may not need to!
Tip 3: Keep it simple with achievable goals that are easily measurable and allow for the strategy to be tweaked along the way.
The key to a successful social campaign is simplicity and consistency and your goals should be kept simple and aligned to other marketing objectives as much as possible. Although every company will have a unique set of goals, awareness, loyalty and sales probably sit at the top of most company's marketing goals and all three are very measurable - yes, increasing awareness is recognised as a measurable objective! Depending on your theme, the metrics and tools to analyse the results may change; If your theme is awareness, you'll want to measure traffic growth, engagement, brand awareness, sharability, likes, subscribes, etc. If it's sales, look at click through rates, social e-commerce sales and conversion rates. And for loyalty, look at engagement, sentiment and influence - both "Klout" and "Edgerank Checker" (now Social Bakers) are powerful measurement tools which measure 'influence' across all your social networks.
Tip 4: Align your goals to the monitoring tools available where possible - don't make measurement too difficult by creating endless goals!
Perhaps one of the simplest and most measurable strategies for creating awareness and loyalty is increasing subscriptions to an online or off-line newsletter. Once a target has been engaged through another platform, you have already won the, 'hearts and minds' contest and a simple invitation to sign up to newsletter should be well received, but your efforts must continue with regular engagement through the channels to soften the prospect and increase the likelihood that they will read your next newsletter and follow a call to action.
Tip 5: Increase signup to your newsletter by adding a dedicated signup area on your Facebook page and linking the URL in your Twitter biography directly to the appropriate page.
If your company regularly exhibits at trade shows or you're a keynote speaker at major industry events, social media can not only help increase awareness, but is able to assist in driving traffic to your stand or increase attendance at your speech. Both goals are very easy to achieve and most of all very measurable.
Like any social media strategy it is imperative that you have a hub, a single event 'destination point' that can be continuously promoted throughout your posts and you may even wish to make the registration process part of the page; this process alone is allowing you to capture key information. In this second example, perhaps the most effective tool in your social media arsenal is the #event hastag. Not only can you consistently use the hashtag in all your tweets, you can follow specific hastags and be notified every time the tag is used in a tweet. Keynote speakers can also piggyback on the back of event tags by using a secondary tag specific to their subject matter to create a 'keynote' environment.
Tip 6: Consider a relationship with a channel partner to provide a quality give away at the stand and ask them to consistently share and retweet your pre events posts to their network to increase awareness.
Tip 7: Limit your tweets to a maximum of 120 characters to leave room for retweets.
If you are struggling to make meet your company’s social media objectives and would like to discuss Vital’s range of social media support packages, please contact Andy Topps on 0333 241 9301