When it comes to effective marketing tactics, social media platforms can be the beacons of success. But while an effective social media marketing campaign can make a product, it can just as well sink a brand that fails to focus on the right priorities. In the vast ocean that is social media, remember that you’re using a channel, a means to an end rather than an end point, so that your marketing strategy must include social media but not rely solely on it.
Nowadays, there’s been a massive shift in how products are launched and marketed. Gone are the days of the simple launch event. Companies now seek to carefully leak key pieces of information to influential bloggers or reporters or reward loyal brand advocates with exclusive information.
But as the entire launch process changes in front of our eyes, one thing isn’t clear: whether the massive social media dominance is making product launches easier or harder to handle.
If ever you find yourself at a loss when it comes to the perfect balance and when unsure whether companies marry creativeness and nimbleness in their social media strategies, consider the following social media marketing strategies and tips:
1. Direction and Prospect Identification
Although social media has become mainstream a while ago (with over 58% of the US adult population having a Facebook account), the enormous audience it comprises doesn’t necessarily represent prospects.
A key element of your social media marketing strategy is to identify who you are trying to get in touch with, be it business owners or coffee savvies. Identifying your target audience isn’t as easy as it may seem.
Take into account the different ways in which people engage on social media and incorporate this knowledge into your decision-making process.Several studies have attempted to identify online users according to specific behavior patterns and you may find some of these studies useful.
Why your target audience engages on social media is as important as how they engage, because understanding their motives will allow you to properly align your brand to their needs and desires.
Whether maintaining or making new friendships, succumbing to social pressure, altruistic impulses, needs for validation or any other reason, make sure to understand why your target audiences participates online.
2. Differentiate Yourself
Once you’ve established who you aim to connect with, another question begs to be answered: why should it be you and not your competitors to win your target audience’s attention?
The idea of individuality and uniqueness appeals to your customers, and there has to be a one-of-a-kind reason that would support your customer’s decision of engaging with you on social media platforms.
It may be as simple as massive discounted offers or a bit more refined, as Taco Bell did with the launch of its new Ranch Doritos Locos Tacowhen it sent its followers on a chase for its new product. Vision is everything, and it inspires engagement.
3. Create Emotional Connections to Your Brand Via Social Media
Believe it or not, emotions represent the foundation of any purchase. Therefore, a successful purchase should always entail a personal component. Brand loyalty can only be obtained by emphasizing with your audience.
Even the best laid out marketing pitch cannot create the strong bond that brand loyalty implies. And social media is your best ally when it comes to creating such a long-lasting emotional connection. There are countless resources at your disposal.
Consider Hostess’ bankruptcy announcement of 2012. While countless Twinkie fans were mourning the apparent demise of a classic American snack, the company decided to launch “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.”
They achieved massive support with coverage on all major social media channels. Consumers’ emotional responses were soon to follow, and the campaign ended up generating half-a-million Facebook fans and well over 350 million Twitter impressions.
4. Add Alternative Content Whenever Possible
As social media evolves, so do your target audience’s needs. Alternative content may be essential in securing the engagement you wish for. Note that visual information is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than normal text is processed.
Furthermore, over 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Images, videos and other types of visual content have been shown to significantly increase average page conversion rates, so make sure to be original with the content you’re presenting to your target audience.
When in doubt, remember: posts rich in visuals receive an average of 94 percent more engagement as opposed to those without engaging visual content.
5. Social Media is Not the Leading Lady
Just as the best opera performances are comprised of hundreds of key contributors, not just the leading soprano, so too are marketing strategies. Remember that social media, important it may be, is not the star performer and cannot substitute for other key elements.
It is a part of your larger marketing plan, one that requires clear a goal to which social media caters.Are you aiming for market research (understanding how your product is seen by potential customers), customer integration or marketing?
With a properly chosen goal, the rest of your social media marketing strategy will naturally fall into place because you will be able to create a map leading your efforts towards your end goal.
6. Strong Social Media Relationships Build Trust
Many marketers err in attempting to seal the deal right after contacting potential customers. But just because your target audience has begun engaging with your brand doesn’t necessarily mean that a relationship exists. Patience is of the essence.
Building trust between your brand and your potential customers requires hundreds, if not thousands, of interactions. Creating relationships is a delicate process, often best tackled with a multi-tiered approach.
After your first interactions with prospects on social media, consider further engagements in the form of surveys or direct questions. Organize webinars, offer a free download or how-to-guide. Only then should the transaction be recommended.
7. Assessing Your Social Media Progress
All your efforts should lead up to sustained results. So periodic assessment is also essential. Is your strategy effective? Can it be improved on? Are there other steps you could take in order to completely meet your customer’s needs?
There are several tools you can use to understand the effect that your social media campaign is having on customer engagement and whether it has had a significant impact on brand awareness. Shares and likes are only a fraction of the story.
There are tools which address brand search volume (Google Trends and Google Insights are excellent) and can show you whether there have been changes in search volume for your brand as opposed to that of your competitor.
Lead growth indicators and brand sentiment are also metrics you should be following when trying to understand your overall brand awareness. Mind you that not all publicity counts as good publicity, especially since social media and negative consumer sentiment can be detrimental to your brand.
8. Encourage the Creative Process
A successful brand creates products aimed at their consumers. In fact, companies make great efforts in order to come as close as possible to what consumers would wish to buy.
Social media is a valuable resource, especially when used creatively. You could encourage your followers to take part in the manufacturing process. Allow them to play a key part in creating the product you’re creating.
Several companies have already had their customers create their next big product. Whether chip flavors or colors, textures or packaging, product creation should always target your customer and what better way of targeting a customer than asking him or her directly?
9. Tackle Unplanned Conversation
Negative feedback is a reality, and when relying heavily on social media, feedback is unavoidable. This is why a successful social media strategy must account for the unplanned and figure out how to address negative comments and criticism. Listen carefully to what your followers are saying because conversations lead to ideas and ideas lead to improvement.
As with every good thing, consistency is required. Frequently sharing content and engaging your audience is a prerequisite when creating brand awareness.
Studies show that multiple posts daily correlate with higher conversion rates, so consider scheduling tools and services that host all your accounts in one place. An editorial calendar is another option which allows you to keep your posts neatly organized.
Long-term sustainability is what you’re aiming for, so focused discussions and active listening is paramount. Granted, using social media for business interests involves significant commitment as well as consistent, meaningful engagement. But such efforts pay off. It’s only a matter of time before you will begin witnessing the return of your investment.