Social media for businesses today can be complex. With digital natives ruling the scene, immersive and changing ad experiences, decreased organic reach and high competition — it’s a lot to navigate. Not to mention the millions of messages, comments, images, videos, reviews and other forms of content being posted each and every day. Consumers have figured it out. But have brands?
Brands today often approach social media strategy in a vacuum, if at all. In my experience, social media is generally viewed as an additional content distribution channel on top of a shiny new website and blog to complement SEO efforts. Not so, anymore. Fast-forward to 2018 and social media is regarded as the No. 1 customer care channel for your brand. It has posed a huge opportunity for marketers and brands to have real, direct conversations with their customers.
But what about the other ways your audience can reach you? Traditional customer service communication methods are being utilized less and less. That prepaid mail survey you slipped in with your customer’s most recent order? It’s already in the recycling bin. The tagged comment someone just sent out on Twitter to their 3,000 followers about their poor experience with your brand? That is out there for everyone to see. It’s a prime example of the power of real-time engagement: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat, LinkedIn, Yelp, Google+, there are a lot of places for consumers to be raving about you, let alone griping. Does this mean no one is going to call your brand’s customer service line? No, some still will. But the majority of your customers are always on. They’re craving a response to let them know they’ve been heard. Your brand or business should be always on, too.
So how do you approach a social media strategy to ensure you’re meeting your customers where they are, and ultimately meeting their expectations? Reframe how your business or brand thinks about and approaches social media. It shouldn’t be an “add on” in your marketing plan. It should be a core part of your digital marketing strategy. The data available today on mobile and social media usage alone should politely nudge you in this direction. Or at least get your wheels spinning.
Consider these 7 points when developing a social media strategy for your brand or business.
- Strip it down to the basics. Facts are facts. Twitter has a character limit, one that just recently increased. Facebook has limited organic reach. Instagram is 100% visual. Facebook hosts the most active users. Obvious? Sure. But you wouldn’t believe how often these down and dirty truths are overlooked when it’s time to put together a content calendar. Beyond the obvious, look to analytics leaders in the space who have gathered data and statistics about each channel, which can help you navigate the changing waters and ultimately lead to greater marketing success.
- Develop S.M.A.R.T goals. What’s a strategy without goals? Tying social media channel goals to your overall marketing goals is a great place to start. Even further, I saw a great post on Buffer recently that asked how social media could assist your company with reaching your top-level business goals. Just make sure these goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
- Consider your audience. Who are you talking to? What types of conversations are taking place on your pages? Look to demographics and interests to better understand traits and behavior of your current audience, allowing you to craft a better strategy and deliver content that resonates.
- Look to best practices and examine your competition. What are brands in your industry or space doing well on social? What trends can you glean from their pages? When it comes to social media marketing, researching your competition not only keeps you apprised of your competitor’s activity, but also gives you an idea of what’s working so you can integrate those successful tactics into your own efforts.
- Develop a brand voice and authority, and engage. Are you active in conversations about your industry? How can your brand be reflected through your social voice? The power of engaging with your audience and within your industry as a whole improves brand likeability, ultimately translating to more positive comments and share of voice.
- Don’t wait to respond. Positive, negative, or neutral — your timely response as a brand is paramount, and often times your win or misstep could result in a gained or lost sale. Nearly 50% of consumers typically expect brands to respond to them on social media with 0-4 hours. The truth is that brands are taking an average of 10 hours or more to respond.
- Work smarter, not harder. Don’t have the internal bandwidth to meet your customer’s expectations and be always on? We get it. Social media marketing can take a village. Especially depending on the size of your organization. But it’s important you’re always active on each of these channels, making sure your brand isn’t overlooking messages or great opportunities to spark up a conversation with fans. Looking to a Social Media Management tool such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Buffer can help keep things running smoothly, especially for smaller teams.
These 7 key points to consider when developing a social media marketing strategy are by no means exhaustive. There’s a lot more that goes into making a great social media strategy work. Think about how your 2018 marketing plans are shaping up. Are you prepared to meet your customers where they are? Does your strategy take advantage of the always-on customer mindset? If not, feel free to contact our Digital team wherever you are. Don’t worry what time it is… we’re always on.
Data courtesy of Sprout Social 2016-17 Social Analytics Index