There are a number of efficient PR and marketing strategies that companies can implement to build awareness among their target customers, but one area that is often overlooked by small businesses, or executed poorly, is social media. Social media, when used strategically, can give you direct engagement with many of your target audiences. Twitter now has grown to 241 million monthly active users, while Facebook has 1.2 billion members. Obviously, for those companies starting out, these channels give access to vast numbers of people, whether it’s to raise awareness, create engagement or drive revenues.
The possibilities presented by social media channels are endless, but how can businesses ensure that they use them in the right way, to support their business objectives, rather than wasting time and resources to no end? It is all too easy to think “we need to be on social media” and not get any further than that. Unsurprisingly, however, a successful social media platform needs a strong strategy behind it, if it’s going to generate results.
Like much communication, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some basic questions that companies can ask themselves about creating relevant and engaging strategies.
Who am I trying to reach?
This might sound obvious, but too many businesses launch into social media without thinking about what they want to get out of it. Unsurprisingly, this rarely yields results. Instead, companies need to think about what they are trying to achieve, and work out their strategy from there. A key part of this is understanding your audience. Are you a business-to-business brand trying to reach CEOs, or are you a consumer brand whose main customers will be mothers? Do you have secondary audiences such as regulators, journalists or NGOs? Establish clearly who your primary and secondary audiences are.
What channels are most appropriate to reach these people?
It’s important to think carefully about what channels are most appropriate for your key audiences. If you’re a B2B brand, for instance, you may find that you have limited success using Facebook. Equally if teenagers are your target audience, LinkedIn might not be the most appropriate channel. So often when considering social media, people just assume that they need to be on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but even though these are the most common channels they may not be the most relevant. Also, remember that if you have niche audiences, other appropriate platforms may prove more fruitful.
What kind of content will they care about?
It’s a rare consumer who loves being constantly bombarded with marketing content, yet when you look at many corporate channels, this is exactly what you find. Think about the kind of people you’re trying to reach and what interests them. Will they be more interested in visual content? News articles? Fun facts? Have a look at companies that have been successful in engaging similar audiences and see what has worked for them. Also make sure that you get the balance right between content that talks about your company and content that engages on a broader basis.
How much time do I want to dedicate to this?
Real social media marketing takes dedication, time and resources, and there is no point having channels if you don’t use them. Radio silence probably won’t lose you followers, fans or viewers, but it won’t gain you any either, and it won’t achieve your objectives. In order to make social media work, you need to make sure that its value and importance is communicated internally and that time each day is set aside for your channels. Think about who is responsible as well. Will it be you doing the tweeting, or will it be someone else’s responsibility? If the answer is someone else’s, you need to make sure that it sits within their core objectives, rather than being seen as an additional pull on their time, which can drop off the priority list when people get busy.
How can I track success?
In order to establish whether your new social media strategy is successful, it’s important to define what success looks like. It’s often helpful to look beyond statistics such as follower and fan numbers, to more sophisticated metrics like engagement. Many social media channels have in-built methods to help with this evaluation, but also consider online tools such as bit.ly which can track how many people click on your links and Google Analytics which can track where traffic to your website is coming from.
Organisations that answer these five questions when formulating their strategies will be in a much better position to reach their audiences in a manner that generates positive business results. For every company the style and channels used for social media outreach will be different, but by following these steps businesses should be able to build awareness and reputation among their key audiences, while keeping costs to a minimum. Most of all though, companies need to remember to be engaging, human and relevant, rather than just using their “owned” channels to push out free corporate marketing messages.
Via: The Guardian