Using social media in a marketing strategy is pretty much par for the course today. But surprisingly, organizations are still getting it wrong. Simply creating social media pages isn’t enough – a clear strategy is in order.
Creating a Facebook page, Twitter profile or any other social media account without the proper oversight and planning can actually do more harm than not having one at all. When the public sees a page that resembles a ghost town, or includes information that doesn’t accurately depict what the organization is going for, it reflects negatively on the organization.
Some social media outlets, especially Twitter, have offered an all-too-convenient opportunity for mistakes to occur. Consider a tweet from the official Gap account during hurricane Sandy – the tweet urged residents to stay safe while simultaneously touting that they’d be “doing lots of gap.com shopping today.” Clearly, the strategy didn’t include vetting who would be in charge of sending out appropriate tweets.
As with any marketing attempt, planning your social media strategy should begin with identifying your audience. Not all audiences are comfortable with the same media channels. Look at the demographic breakdown from Mashable. If you’re targeting women aged 18 to 29, Facebook or Snapchat is your channel. Looking to appeal to rural residents who are white women with some education? Go with Pinterest. Organizations attempting to reach out to young, Hispanic and African Americans have success when using Instagram.
Identifying the correct channel is important, but just as important is creating useful content. Keep in mind that people who use social media are not only looking to stay informed; many of them want to engage. Shouting about your latest product and offering advertisements on your social media channels doesn’t cut it.
Yes, advertising should be part of the strategy, but don’t overdo it. Ads don’t offer much chance for followers to engage. Instead of touting products, try offering up information that can be the catalyst for comments and discussion. A lively channel will attract more users.
Organizations have had success in building leads by creating Twitter chats, which are hosted discussions that use hashtags that other followers can key into. LinkedIn groups cannot be discounted either. These groups provide a platform for experts to discuss various topics that appeal to your particular industry. Users can browse the various group categories and sign on to the relevant ones.
Another lead generation tool is found in advertising on Facebook. You can highlight your content to an audience that you know will be interested through Facebook ads. Experts don’t find Facebook to be the best source for direct sales, but it does do a lot for building an audience, instigating engagement and eventually having a one-on-one conversation.
Mobile apps are also gaining ground, but mostly for the Fortune 500 companies. Small- to mid-sized businesses have more success skipping the app stores and going directly to the web browser that is mobile-friendly. Rather than making your followers download an app and create an account, it’s far more convenient for them to go straight to the web and bypass the app barrier.
Pushing your message to the right people in the right channels will lead you and your organization to a successful social media marketing effort.