5 Important Tips To Defining Your Social Marketing Strategy.
Joseph Murphy – Social Media Consultant
1. Refine Your Goals
Today it is very hot to talk about Twitter & Facebook, just like a few years ago Myspace was king. All of these tools can be quite effective if used correctly and the first step in this adventure is to refine your goals. What exactly are you trying to achieve by putting your business on Facebook or Twitter? Do you want more customers? Do you want to develop an arm of your corporate culture (see below) to extend into the community? Do you just want to be hip and cool? Well each of these are valid questions (even the last one) but make sure you spend time with your team and determine what your goal is.
Nothing fails worse than just having your web2.0 team running about creating accounts and updating all the social networking sites like crazy. Make sure your goals are defined and this will lead you right into the next step.
2. Determine Your Market
Each social networking site has a target audience, now many of these are quite broad but they can be defined. Twitter for instance is seeing increased growth in the 50+ market and in the overseas market. Facebook continues to grow on all fronts but seems to be favored by tech savvy middle and upper middle class users. Myspace has become a haven for musicians and artists, and LinkedIn is favored by corporate users. Check out the public numbers from each site, check out how each site works and determine if it fits in with your customer or user base. If you are looking to target the 50+ market perhaps Twitter is a good starting point for your social marketing campaign. If you have many corporate customers, perhaps LinkedIn will be a good starting point. Your base market should determine where to start your social marketing strategy.
This is very important, I have seen many companies jump head first into all the social marketing sites with no rhyme or reason. Create your first social site based on your customers needs and their demographic, why create a Flickr (a image gallery sharing site) account if you are not providing images to your customers? Keep focused on your goals and use this to determine your market.
3. Uncover Your Culture
Your company culture is really what you are trying to sell, the social marketing sites are more than just large advertising boards, they are a whole new way to think about customers. When you are posting on Twitter or Facebook for example try to post as if you are talking directly to a person and you want feedback. Nobody likes a company that just constantly sends out updates that are strictly marketing speak or advertisements. A good example of this is a small clothing company I worked with who had a large fan base on Facebook but never really had any customer comments. This is because they were constantly just sending out updates like, “50% off this weekend” and “New items in stock”. These are important information updates but by changing their updates to “What do you think of these new items?” or “What kind of sale should we have this weekend?” They were able to really get the customers involved in the product and their fan pages, thus increasing their culture.
Uncover what your company is all about and try to express this in your updates to the social community. You want to get your customers involved in your culture, you want them involved in the experience. After you know what you are selling, and you determine where you want to jump off at, then its time to uncover your culture. This is a great step in helping your social marketing campaign really get off the ground and deliver where you need it to.
4. Establish Accountability
One of the worst mistakes I have seen in social marketing is being non-responsive or secretive. Remember you are entering a brave new world of openness and accountability to your customer base, you are targeting them directly, and you are delivering your culture to them and making them want to be a part of that. A key element of this is allowing the customer to voice their opinions on things without taking it to heart. Many a social marketing campaign has failed because of a companies inability to handle criticism, or being to quick to delete negative comments on an update. If you start getting negative comments about your company, this is just what you were looking for, this gives you the opportunity to directly address these concerns and turn a naysayer or disgruntled customer into a return happy customer. (Keep in mind that you always want to delete offensive, racist, or comments filled with vulgarity.)
Make sure you are delivering in your accountability. Have a plan before you start your social marketing campaign on exactly who will respond to negative comments, and what will be said. If this involves a few meetings that is fine, but make sure you respond quickly and with the same culture driven voice you have used for updates or other complaints. Nothing ticks off a customer worse than to be treated differently than another customer. Accountability is effective policy and resolution of a customers problem.
5. Track Your Results
An effective social media campaign will bring results in that you can see. Are your Facebook fan page numbers growing? Are your website unique hits or page views increasing? All of these items can be tracked either with in house web analytic software, or by using something like Google Analytics on your website. On Facebook you can see the results directly with customer responses, page hits, and new fans. On Twitter you can see if your followers are increasing.
Tracking your results is a key element to see if your message is being delivered effectively. If after 6 months or so of steady posting and interaction you do not see any results it might be time to go over the steps again and make sure your social marketing campaign is hitting all the right markers.