Are your social media efforts rooted in a solid foundation? Start with clear objectives and build from there.
All too often I see businesses who, in their haste to hop aboard the social media band wagon, dive straight into tactical work without even knowing what they hope to accomplish, let alone having a plan to achieve it. Social media, just like any other significant marketing initiative, needs to have a clear and measurable strategy. And while social media can serve many purposes, without clearly defining your primary objectives for using social media, you’re going to have a hard time giving direction to your team, allocating resources and evaluating your successes.
If you find yourself at the start of or re-evaluating your social media strategy, consider this list of common objectives to pursue. If all sound appealing, try to limit yourself to no more than two or three at first. You can always build on from there.
- Improve specific brand awareness and positioning. Many companies conduct advertising and marketing campaigns solely for the purpose of raising their brand name and consumer awareness. Similarly, this could be your primary social media objective. If it is, be sure that your efforts reinforce your brand message and help differentiate you from the rest of your market.
- Improve visibility through Search. Search engines now factor in social media participation and social sharing into their algorithms. If Search still weighs heavily as a source of new business leads and sales, focus on a social media strategy that helps increase your brand’s search visibility.
- Provide education/how-to. Many companies have built their entire reputation on helping to educate their customers. Whole Foods Markets, for example, has developed a healthy living theme around the hashtag “#HealthYeah” which they use throughout their social media efforts.
- Develop, curate and share industry or target audience news & information. Some companies do a great job of producing relevant news by conducting and sharing research; others seek out and post case stories. Don’t want or have the resources to produce this kind of content yourself? Become a “curator” instead. The end result can be the same: you become the go-to high quality resource for news and information.
- Conduct Q&A/Ask-the-Expert. This objective works particularly well if your business has a singular focus or you have someone on your team with unique subject matter expertise. By making available expertise the focal point of your social media strategy, you’ll attract a wide audience of people seeking answers, but you’ll also help generate plenty of useful content that can easily be shared. To execute this objective, you can leverage built-in solutions like Quora or LinkedIn Answers or you can create and host ongoing programming like a tweetchat or a Google Hangout.
- Deliver customer service. The idea of delivering customer service via social media dates back to some of the earliest brand successes on Twitter (@comcastcares, @hertz, @Quicken). Social media not only helps companies resolve customer issues rapidly but it also helps that company manage its brand and reputation better by doing so.
- Recruit new job hires. For some companies (particularly regulated industries), job candidate recruitment provides them with the only means to be comfortable using social media; others readily embrace social media’s additional benefit in attracting new talent.
- Showcase products/replace print catalogs. Businesses cannot deny the appeal of reducing or eliminating the expense of producing print catalogs, and social media gives a perfect means for doing so. Using platforms like Facebook, YouTube or Pinterest allows companies to showcase and promote their wares at a fraction of the former printing costs.
- Conduct direct sales/ecommerce. On Facebook, it’s called “F-commerce”, a full-blown ecommerce-enabled store built into a Facebook page. Several companies like Pampers and 1-800-FLOWERS have already been testing it out. Commerce can also be built into blogs, and through applications and extensions, I can envision simple transactions taking place through other social networks in the near future.
- Listen/conduct market and/or competitive research. No company should overlook the power of using social media to simply listen and learn. Learn about your customers. Learn about your prospects. Learn about your competitors and about trends in your market. Sometimes there’s more power in listening well than trying to do something only half-well.
Once you have your social media objectives figured out, it’s time to build that strategy and put it into action!Comments(0)
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