In a previous post about setting up a social media marketing strategy, I looked at the first step in defining it. As promised, back then, here is a first follow-up post for all of you out there trying to find some simple answers to some simple questions that unfortunately become complex in a jungle of social media marketing opinions. For the record: my look at setting up a social media marketing strategy is an opinion as well. All I can promise is that I’ll try to avoid the hype and keep it simple yet relevant, deal?
In case you didn’t read the first post in this developing series, I advise you to do so. Here is the link. Come back later?
OK, last time I talked about the decision to start with social media marketing, the importance of having a strategy and how to compose a team to define that strategy. I also talked about the role of that team.
In this post there will be no talking about choosing social media channels or anything like that. I keep insisting on some strategic things for a while because (I hope that some people know the tune by now and sing out loud with me…) ‘social media marketing is just marketing’ (and thus requires a strategy).
What is a strategy? It is a reflected way to achieve something. You are standing on point A, and you want to move to point B. It is said that the shortest line between two points is a straight line (although mathematicians and physicists will gladly debate this).
Attention: social media marketing roadblock ahead!
Since I’m not a mathematician I like to think that the shortest line between where you stand now and where you want to go is best as straight as possible. I’m a bit lazy, so I don’t like zig-zagging too much. In my view, the more you think (of course not alone, see my previous post) about how to get where you want to get, the straighter the line will be.
There are two things to consider: what do you want to achieve with your social media marketing strategy and, since you will be using social media, where are you today. Next it’s just a matter of starting to walk (or take a plane if you want to move faster and have the budgets). Looking at some possible road blocks and having a plan B might not be a bad idea as well…
Now, of course the line will never be completely straight. Because a strategy is defined by people and people make mistakes (thanks for that). Secondly, your point B might be on a mountain top. That requires some climbing and you will inevitably encounter all kinds of things that you have to get out of the place, or maybe you will even need to make a big detour now and then. And while you are climbing, you might even have to stand still for a while and check if your point B really is the right one.
After all, we are all a bit on new territory here, even the most experienced marketing experts. That’s why they ventilate their opinions (besides the personal branding here and there). And these opinions differ. Why? Because no one holds the absolute truth and everyone is different (thanks for that as well).
And, finally, well, you will have to test the waters a bit and while climbing to where you want to be, you might stumble now and then. Don’t worry, you’re only human.
Now, before I lose your attention (maybe I already have) because I’m trying to make you feel a bit more comfortable regarding the challenge that is ahead of you, (setting up a social media marketing strategy, then setting up a plan and next rolling it out), I’ll talk about the two points A and B now. I’ll start with B.
What do you want to achieve with social media marketing?
Social media marketing is quite new in both B2B and B2C, but in the final analysis the objectives are the same as any other form of marketing: customer satisfaction and ultimately ROI through a possible compression of costs, on the one hand, and an increase of all parameters which lead to a higher turnover, on the other. The only thing that’s different is the “how”.
The latter ranges from improvement of the brand reputation, better customer support, word-of-mouth effects and the strengthening of the loyalty of your customers to direct sale. The first challenges for the team defining the strategy are naturally the “what” and the “why”, as I explained in the previous post.
Be sure not to set unreasonable goals: social media marketing isn´t equally well suited for everything. But don´t make the budget too small, either. Create an environment, a place where people and communities can gather to become a new community and a presence in which you can succeed in achieving your objectives.
Know the place and possibilities of social media within your strategy. I’ll talk about these in another follow-up post (yes, this is far from finished, I hope that by the end you’ll have a social media marketing handbook).
Where do you stand today?
Before starting with your social media marketing activities, it´s a good idea to just listen a bit. In order to be able to move to point B (what you want to achieve), you need to know what’s your point A.
And you can do that by making use of social media listening tools. Perhaps you´ve had a Twitter account linked to a blog for some time already, but until now you´ve used it only to disseminate your posts (something I see very often in practice).
Well, in that situation go take a look at what the followers of this Twitter account have already said to and about you before you really decide to go a step further. Even if you have no social media presences yet, you can bet that people will probably talk about your business or brand or whatever on their blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and all the rest. If they don’t that can be good news (no one says bad things), but generally it’s not that good (no one knows you exist, on social media that it is).
In other words, evaluate how things stand with the reputation of your brand, company and products via different social media, including blogs. This can help you in defining your strategy.
Also be sure to take a look at how things stand with your competitors in this regard. After all, you’re not the only one that wants to move from A to B. What are they doing? How are they being perceived? Don´t hesitate to use their ideas if they work and learn from their mistakes. You don’t want to make the same detours as they had to make, right? And you don’t want to stumble where they did. But, that’s not the only reason. We’re in business here. So I guess you don’t want to simply follow their lead. I bet you want to find a better and faster road, admit it.
Finally, check out how people are talking about the sector in which you are active, what trends are being most intensely discussed, etc. Look at your niche.
Analyzing what is being said on social media about niche markets is important. Precisely, how you go about doing this will depend on your activities.
In business-to-business, for example, you generally know better which people you want to reach, which customers you have, who your competitors are, how your customers wish to receive information and what their purchasing cycle looks like.
It is therefore (among other things) a matter of what niches to look at, finding the right channels for them and knowing what the best social networks are for you and your niche.
That’s it for now. Again, you can read the first post in this series here, and I’ll try to continue it with more follow-up posts to tackle the other steps in using social media marketing. I just try to go from point A to B with this series as well.
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