Contrary to popular belief Social Media did not start with Facebook but actually began in the 1970s as a result of email. It wasn’t until the late 90s (1997) with the development of solely social interaction website Six Degrees that it evolved into what we define as social media. Since Six Degrees there have been dozens of popular platforms (some of them extinct now) that have paved the way (i.e. Stumble Upon in 2001, Friendster in 2002, LinkedIn and MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Youtube and Tumblr in 2007, Instagram in 2010, Google+ and Snapchat in 2011, Pinterest in 2012, Periscope in 2015, TikTok in 2016 and so on) in offering new customer experiences, and interruptive forms of advertising. What started as a means for users to digitally connect with friends and family rapidly morphed (due to the speed of technology and innovation growing multifold each year) into a whole new world of access, information, engagement and interaction, not just for people but also for businesses across the world.
Social media offers businesses the opportunity to:
- Increase Brand Awareness
- Generate leads and increase conversions
- Develop and nurture deeper relationships with customers
- Learn from the competition
But it is impossible for a brand to be available on every available platform and create unique content that engages with every potential customer. Furthermore with multiple brands offering both confusingly similar and different solutions, all vying for share of mind and share of wallet, it can get expensive very quickly. So how can your business leverage Social Media Marketing that is not only effective but also sustainable?
The first step is to acknowledge that Social Media is not as direct as other traditional inbound marketing strategies and tactics; however its efficacy as a business growth tool is undeniable. The key to its success lies in understanding the ins and outs of building and maintaining a quality social media strategy.
1. Perform a Social Media Audit
Performing your brand’s social media audit requires you to take stock of all social media channels and creative assets that you have. Some things that should be a part of your stock-taking metrics across platforms:
Understanding Referral Traffic (i.e. from where your leads are coming to your website) will help you optimise marketing time, money and efforts going forward. Doing a social media audit will enable you to understand what has worked and what needs to be changed.. Not all social media platforms are equal and definitely not all of them are relevant for your solutions. If you want to automate the audit, you could consider using tools like Sprout Social, HootSuite, SEM etc.
2. Perform a Competitor Audit
Doing a quick check on what your competitors are doing will not only give you content and marketing ideas but also help you gauge your brand against the competitive landscape that is vying for your customers’ share of wallet. If your post reach/ views is low for similar content it does not mean that your solution is bad, it could be an indication your competitors are using paid media to boost their reach/ views. It could also be that your branding or brand tone is inconsistent. It could be that your brand value proposition is not strong enough or that your ideal customer targeting is incorrect. Performing a competitor audit will help you understand their content mix, identify and address not just the gaps in your platform usage but also discover platforms under-utilised by your competitors. Most importantly it will help you track relevant keywords used by the category to promote similar products and services.
3. Creating a Marketing Plan for Social Media
Creating a social media marketing plan requires research and understanding of your target customer. Understand their pain points. It requires content Ideas and fulfilment of marketing goals (i.e. drive brand awareness, drive website traffic, conversions etc.) that are part of the overall business growth plan. Deciding which platform is ideal for your brand. Setting goals for your marketing plan that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
4. Creating Content that Builds a Community
Not all platforms are equal and therefore using the same content across platforms is nothing short of being lazy. While you can repurpose content, it might need to be reworked to fit the respective platform and maximise marketing effectiveness. It is also important to remember that social media marketing is a two-way street (i.e. a dialog) for customers and brands to engage with each other. Content that is created must provide Value to the community (V/s self serving or promotional content). Content presented by the brand on social media must tie in with the overall brand content strategy. It must tell a story, communicate a clear value proposition, solve a key pain point.
5. Avoid playing to the Myths
All platforms are businesses and therefore for profit. Just because your social channel page has 100,000+ followers or page likes does not mean that all of your followers see every post your brand puts out. Reality is that it is less than 10% that will actually see it. Your brand must invest in paid media marketing. Viral content can be created is another myth that many marketers believe. This is far from the truth. Instead of planning for virality, focus on creating high-quality content, leveraging interactive content, knowing your audience, partnering with influencers, leveraging paid media, getting your content reposted, telling a relatable story, keeping it short, to the point and having a clear call to action.
6. Measure Performance
In Social Media, all roads don’t naturally lead to marketing efficiency and brand success. It is important to track performance so that your brand can improve where needed and do more of what works well. Ensuring that social posts link back to a specific landing page on your website, tracking that with Google analytics, installing Pixels, active Social Listening to track all brand mentions etc. will help keep your brand social media marketing on track.
Conclusion: From what was once a small friends-building tool, Social Media has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that drives businesses, cultural trends and relationships. The rapid advances in technology, constantly shifting cultural dynamics, human need for social interaction and commerce being driven by this interaction will only further fuel the transformation of the current social media landscape. In order to build rapport with your prospects and customers it is critical that marketers listen to their customers, communicate with empathy and personalise their offers. Generating qualified leads is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. It requires consistency; a multichannel approach across the marketing and sales funnel to build Trust and Brand Loyalty.
Trigger Worldwide is a Brand Marketing Agency, built specifically for businesses to create Sustainable Growth. Our proprietary tools and process methodologies harness Technology, Creativity & Innovation, leverage Economic Drivers and Consumer Beliefs to help businesses overcome marketing inefficiencies and achieve their Growth Agendas.