Because social media is so relatively young, and fast moving, there is a view that it doesn’t need to follow traditional marketing rules. This is simply not the case.
Social media is a fantastic marketing opportunity for businesses today – whether it’s b2b, b2c, b2b2c or c2c. But social plans built without a solid strategic foundation are doomed to failure. The building blocks are critical, and should include marketing strategy, target audience, customer and prospect communication, channel choices, content and integration with the overarching brand principles. Any social media campaign should also be integrated with other online and offline channels such as print, telemarketing, DRTV, press ads, sales promotion or PR.
In my view, joining the dots between social media and any existing or new media channels, (whether online or offline) is critical.
There are six key elements in the social media process:
- Marketing planning
- Marketing implementation and integration
- Ongoing engagement and responsiveness
- Considering social media data
- Measuring results
If a business wants to develop a social media presence, it needs to allocate the time and resource to ensuring that these steps are managed. Also, as part of the engagement strategy, just like any other marketing channel, regular social media activity needs to be scheduled and delivered. It is also worth considering that social media operates 24 / 7, so there will be a need for businesses to consider how to monitor customer posts that occur out of hours and at weekends.
Joining the dots
Social media marketing needs to be integrated into existing online and offline marketing activity, keeping the social media channels and messaging consistent, and producing a fully rounded, integrated marketing story for a brand. To achieve this, consideration needs to be given to the brand itself, the company’s values, the overall marketing strategy, budgets (both in terms of money and resource), measurable goals, social strategy, and customer communications. It is also essential to explore the key metrics and the end goals of the business before starting the process – whether that’s gaining customers, making sales, or revenue, donations or profit.
The critical starting point part is the strategy, which requires thought, commitment and understanding of the business’s audience, and how best to communicate with prospects and customers. What is the size of the market? Any trends to be aware of? Who are your customers and prospects? What are their needs? What and why do they buy? How much do they spend? What does the competition look like?
Once that research is complete, you can begin to work out the communication strategy – how can you best make a connection with your specific target audience? What are your brand values? How to do you want to communicate with your customer or prospect – offline? online? What should your website look like? Is TV appropriate? Or print? Which social media best fit your goals? Where and how is your audience they likely to engage with you? Facebook? Or Pinterest? Or Google Plus? Or You Tube? Or a combination of all of them? Is it about competitions, or building a network? Understanding the demographics of the various social media channels is every bit as critical as creative, which – no matter how clever or witty or engaging - will fall on deaf ears if it’s inappropriately targeted.
Having made that decision, how can you link them all together into one over-arching message? For me, social media is about creating an ineractive buzz – it’s about moving the conversation throughout the marketing channels both online and offline – teasing your customers into engaging with you – developing a brand and story, interrupting the story and moving it across channels all the time making the process fun, engaging and interactive.
Once you have engaged your audience, the job becomes increasing reach while maintaining engagement levels, coming up with fresh material and content … with the ultimate goal of making it easier and more appealing for your audience to buy from you. And that’s the secret – you need to make them want to buy from you, recommend you to their friends and connections, talk about you.
Fully rounded activity
Having worked out which social media to integrate into your marketing activity, and how to make them engaging, build a calendar of events, posts, content and links. And stick to it. If you’re not able to guarantee you can keep the momentum going, don’t even think about social media. It’s time-consuming, and can become a costly waste of time and resource if adopted on an ad-hoc basis.
Keep the activity alive – here are a couple of examples, both clever, with one slightly flawed, the other excellent:
Don’t fail to deliver on your promises
Daz has a great concept on Facebook where there’s a storyline developed along a soap opera theme involving characters from Cleaner Close. The campaign works across channels – Daz’s Dive DRTV ad pushes viewers to Facebook to see how the dive ends up. BUT in this instance, Daz fails to deliver. Though they draw viewers into the soap opera storyline, the dive is not shown in the video clip … which has clearly upset viewers who took the trouble to “comment” and express their disappointment.
A great example from Innocent
Then there’s the Innocent website – excellent in that it reflects the brand’s core values, is simple and clear to read, with great sales promotion concepts such as the Big Knit, great characters and strong links to Facebook and their blog. It even has a link heading called “Bored?” – irresistible!
For me this is a great example of making social media work for a product which is essentially an impulse purchase. It engages customers, builds loyalty, and keeps them coming back for more. Not only is it fun, but it’s healthy too! They bring the characters to life and engage their customers by running votes and competitions, their blog brings the story to life, and they pursue their brand values through charitable donations and links.
What’s clear about this activity is that it was not thought up in a day. It was carefully planned and developed, the characters took time and budget to develop, and the activity is regularly managed and kept up to date. In particular, there is a clear strategy and branding which is consistent through all Innocent’s marketing activity, both online and offline.
It is businesses who approach their social media strategy in such a way who will enjoy the greatest success.
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Victoria Tuffill – Partner Tuffill Verner Associates - firstname.lastname@example.org
01787 277742 or 07967 148398.
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