As an advocate of social media, I have seen brands benefit from all that it offers, but I have also seen brands suffer the downfalls. So why are some brands killing it and others failing to hit the mark?
Social media is, as the name suggests, ‘social’. How many brands do you know of that actually have conversations with their audience? Do you? All too often brands are using their Facebook page like it’s a bulletin board outside the library, things get posted and left to do the work.
Unfortunately, bulletin board advertisements don’t always stick, they get blown away, something gets pinned over the top, people might be interested but you’re not there. They key is to use social media not as a platform for announcements but as a place to grow and engage with a community that loves your brand.
Like all marketing strategies, there are a few things you need to address before you launch into a campaign on social media.
1. Who is my target audience?
You should know who your target audience is, but do you know where they hang out? Or what they like doing? Though I’m not talking about whether they jog at the park or do yoga on the beach, it is still a lifestyle choice. Knowing whether or not your target audience actually uses social media is the first step to getting closer to them. And if so, is it Facebook or SnapChat or Vine or LinkedIn? Maybe it’s a few.
Choose your channel wisely, don’t spread yourself too thin. There is no need to have Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, Twitter and, and… Do your research and choose the one that your target audience is most likely to be using, or where they are most active. At this stage stick to one, focus on getting it right and achieving your goals. You can always add and experiment with other platforms later.
2. Do I have the resources?
Do you have the time to find or create the content? Does someone else in your team? What about the day to day management? Do you have knowledge of the platform? In other words, who’s going to run the ship?
Running social media platforms requires commitment. Brands need to be active frequently, sporadic bouts of posting just clogs up people’s feed and they feel like their getting spammed…unfollow.
It also takes time (and effort) to build up a social profile, and for some brands, this can be a strain on resources. When they don’t see instant results they give up. Often they return their focus to offline advertising, which can be equally effective, but the information gained about your audience is very limited. And you pay big bucks for it too.
3. What do I want to achieve?
Why are you using social media? Is it because your competitor is on Twitter, therefore you should be too? Wrong. Are you looking for a means of communicating with your customers? Right.
Social media is a perfect fit for brands that want to build a hub for their community where they can engage and communicate with their target audience.
Remember, social media is not a one-way street. You need to be actively listening to your audience on these platforms. Find out their pain points. As you build trust and work your way closer to meeting your customers, these valuable insights are your avenues in, a chance to offer them solutions to their problem. This stuff is the gold of social media. But beware of being creepy and stalking people’s profiles – this will not gain you any friends.
4. Is social media the right fit for my brand?
Regardless of whether they are B2B or B2C, brands can either have great success or epically fail at social media. The brands that generally do best at it are the ones that portray themselves as human. They are personal, empathetic, helpful, conversational and have a sense of humour. Nothing robot about that. A practice that some marketers have coined H2H, human-to-human.
Businesses do not have emotion. People do. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. People want to feel something. People want to be included. People want to understand.
Bryan Kramer, There is no B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human
So it’s not really so much a matter of whether your brand has human qualities, but rather are you willing to give it human qualities? Fear may hold you back from injecting personality into your brand, but at the end of the day, people want to feel like they are talking to a human, not a robot. It’s a bit like when you ring up your bank and you get to speak to a person, and they help you with that direct debit issue, it makes you feel a whole lot more special.
5. How am I going to measure its success?
Your social media efforts shouldn’t exist in a void. You should be regularly looking at the data to make sure you are getting a return on your investment – remember the investment is not just money, but time and effort as well.
If you’re using social media for marketing it needs to be tied into your business objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators). What is the goal you are trying to achieve? Do you want more visitors to your website? More enquiries or sales of your product? Maybe you just want more people to know about your brand/products?
Likes and followers are a false economy, they may make your ego feel better but the true value comes from the engagement your audience has with your brand on social media. Most of the platforms have analytics built in nowadays, and looking at the data can be very helpful in working out what it is your audience engages with the most. Knowing what it is they like can help you in the creation of you posts.
By aligning your message to your KPIs it will help you to determine what you post, who you’re posting to, when to post and most importantly you will be able to clearly gauge the success of your posts.
Are you ready to commit?
You should by now have a clear idea of whether or not you are capable of executing and maintaining a social media campaign in-house. It can be easy enough to do it yourself but often it’s just another thing on the ever growing list that you’d probably rather not tackle, especially in the early stages.
Feel free to get in touch if you’d like some advice on how to tackle social media marketing, or if you have any questions or thoughts please leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s one last question you may like to ponder. What is the message you are going to use social media for to get across about your brand? Or more simply, What do you want to say?