As a social media marketing speaker and consultant, I have a lot of people asking me how to structure their social media marketing strategies. In particular, I help companies set up their social media marketing programs effectively so that they’ll be able to get new customers and increase brand awareness.
I've seen a lot of good and bad social media marketing over the years, so here’s my advice on how NOT to leverage social media for your business, along with some
It should go without saying that business use of social media should be centered on your business and have defined objectives. Unfortunately, I see again and again that some companies just put content out there without any objective beyond making a post. For example, a local car garage might put up an advertisement for 20% off the price of parts, or a discounted oil change. Unfortunately, the “special offer” doesn’t have much to do with the rest of your business. Everyone else offers discounts occasionally, so this doesn’t set the garage apart from competitors.
On the other hand, an effective objective for that same garage would be increasing customer awareness of their services. Tell potential customers about your philosophy of customer service, for example. You can interview the owner, boast about mechanic qualifications, or toot your horn about the great ratings you’re getting through the Better Business Bureau. This way, the social media efforts reflect a particular business’ ethos. Such brand awareness will often lead to more business later as people identify with brand values.
Think about it this way: If you are trying to build a sphere of influence for your business in social media, your business objective for building out that sphere as well as the content you publish should both attract people to and convert people in your sphere.
Another frequent mistake with social media marketing strategies is to only use it short-term when there’s a promotion. This isn’t effective, because there’s a good chance people aren’t even following your page if you only post on occasion. Often, a business will hire a social media consultant or marketing firm, who will set up their corporate accounts on social media and use them for a while. But when the retainer runs out, these accounts will be abandoned or see much less use. If there are no designated employees to keep up the social media accounts, chances are you won’t be using them long term.
Instead, companies need to have designated people to update those accounts. They need a consistent posting schedule, even if that’s only once a week. Importantly, treat your social media accounts as a part of your corporate infrastructure. If you do long-term social media right, you have the ability to turn customers into brand ambassadors by sharing your social posts. You’ll also inspire people to buy things, and show what a great place you are for workers, as well. Stay in it for the long term, and you’ll do much better.
A lot of companies, especially those which are just starting out in the world of social media for business, will only use it for one way communication. Maybe they’ll just send out a barrage of Tweets, or post advertisements by the dozen on Facebook and Instagram. While putting branded content out there is a good start, you have to remember that social media isn’t the local newspaper or radio station. Customers have the ability to respond to your social media posts in various ways, from Retweets to shares and even posting content on a friend’s wall.
Ignoring this type of engagement is detrimental to your overall strategy. Multiple studies have shown that customers expect brands to respond to their comments and Tweets. Sometimes, they’re asking a question about a new product that’s being advertised. Or, they might send out a Tweet indicating dissatisfaction with some aspect of their brand experience. Performing customer service tasks through social media is a great way to turn dissatisfied customers into happy ones, indicate your appreciation for that lovely product review, or demonstrate the corporate values you’ve been touting for months. Don’t turn down the opportunity to turn engagement into a sale.
Especially when a brand is starting the social journey, it’s easy to think that by focusing on just one or two social media channels you can be effective. For example, many brands start with only Facebook. The trouble with this strategy is that you don’t necessarily know where your potential customers hang out. It could be that most of them are on Facebook, but unless you’re going to do paid social it might be hard to find them there. On the other hand, if you also add Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest there are many more opportunities to be discovered by the target audience, and more ways your fans can share. As the saying goes, don’t put your eggs all in one basket.
Arguably, the easiest way to ensure you spend a lot of money on social media without getting the right results is to ineffectively measure your ROI. One example of an ineffective approach is to just see how many people are interacting with posts or content. While this is fine for a personal account, with business you need to know what is selling product, and what isn’t. Quality sales leads and customer conversions are always the goal, even if it’s part of a long-term strategy.
Another problem businesses face in the are of ROI is watching as they spend money on social media marketing and see their sales increase. While increased sales is part of the goal, if a business only looks at the numbers as a whole then they’re missing out on maximizing their benefits. They’re often unaware of what’s working, and what isn’t.
Here's the problem: while having ineffective ROI measurements might not lead to a loss on social media spending, this shortcoming doesn’t allow the business owner to maximize ROI. What every business owner using paid social needs is a suitable analytics program. With analytics, you can find out at a glance what’s working and what isn’t. This allows ineffective campaigns and approaches to be discontinued, while effective efforts can be “doubled down” on. Less advertising money is wasted that way.
I hope this discussion has been helpful to you. If you can think of anything else to add to the conversation, please let me know by commenting below.