Social media is firing up the marketing world. Now that big companies have proven that social media actually works, everyone wants in on it. Your parents have joined Facebook, your boss has started to tweet and your company wants to go viral.
Social media is the collective term for social networking sites (SNS), web-based channels that enable people to interact in the virtual world. Popular SNS in the Philippines are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and blog engines like Blogger and WordPress.
Social media marketing, in general, refers to the use of social media in reaching out to consumers. It is distinguished from traditional marketing wherein tri-media (TV, print, radio) is used.
The use of social media for your business, much like marketing and promotions, will require a specific strategy. If you plan to start a Facebook page or a Twitter account for your business, you need a social media strategy.
A strategy ensures that social media will work for you and your business. Social media is not just about presence. What you do about your online presence is what spells the difference.
Chart your social path
As Chris Brogan, one of the social media world’s thought leaders, said, “Strategy isn’t the goal. It’s the path you plan to take to get there.”
Take the right steps, then:
1. Define your objective.
Crafting a social media strategy starts with identifying your objective. Why do you want to be on social media? The answer to this question will guide your online activity. Your success will also be measured against this.
2. Know your target market.
Who are you talking to? Where are they in the online space? Note that each SNS may attract a different demographic: Facebook is where the 24 and up like to hang, Tumblr is where the teens go because the adults aren’t there, Pinterest appeals to women and baffles men and Instagram attracts foodies, visual types and is limited to smartphone users. It’ll be tempting to be everywhere but it is best to focus your efforts in the channel where your target market is at.
Time your posts. What’s their online behavior? When do they go online? Create and curate good content based on what interests them. Make the most out of the fact that social media gets you closer to the people you would like to reach.
3. Identify your brand voice.
Social media is a personal experience, used to communicate and interact. As such, it is best to humanize your online presence. Envision a brand persona — would it be a girl or a boy? How old? What are his/her hobbies and interests? In essence, what do you sound like online?
Your brand voice can be a “humanized” mascot, like @Binalot or the company CEO, see @richardbranson, or created entirely for Twitter, like @Skittles.
Converse, do not hard sell. No one likes to be constantly sold to in the social space.
One of the best things about social media is that it has given everyone a voice. Now that everyone’s talking, listen to what they have to say about your brand and the competition. Studying your market has never been easier. Google alerts and search are your best free tools.
5. Present your value.
What can you contribute to the online space that your market will find useful and interesting? Post that! Being active in social media means being able to share great content. It’s a lot of planning, research and writing. When your content is engaging, you are able to spark great conversations with your online community.
6. Have fun with it.
With social media, the possibilities are endless. You can find, create or co-create content. You can dream up elaborate campaigns and chances are, the tech you will need actually exists. Dream up ways to further engage your community and keep you at the top of their minds.
7. It boils down to execution.
How you carry out your strategy will determine its success. Have all your bases covered and anticipate reactions. And even if you’re all about new media and digital, integrate your campaign with offline efforts: print links on cards and flyers, hold events to meet your community in person and make sure your product and service are exceptional.
8. Measure. Optimize. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Identify your KPIs and measure against them. Check if your strategy works for you. Free analytics tools are available for your use. Invest in paid tools for richer data. Based on the metrics, improve your execution and tweak strategy if necessary. This is a process you can periodically repeat to ensure the best results.
At the end of the day, social media is about the people and not the technology.
Use it to communicate, interact and engage. Cultivate a relationship with your community. Once you’ve got them caring about you, then they’ll be ready to listen to what you have to say.