It seems that every social media expert is evaluating social media marketing, especially on facebook. While social media marketing is currently “old news” to a lot of brands there are still a big percentage who are trying to determine just how much time and budget dollars should be allocated to this channel. However, remember that social media marketing is not easy and in all likelihood you’re not going to get it right the first or even second time. At its core social media marketing is new approach to marketing “customer centric” instead of organization centric. It doesn’t mean marketers need to give up control of their marketing it just means that one marketing message is not going to resonate with everyone out there and that you need to fight for every customer and listen to what they have to say.
There are three reasons to use social media as a marketing channel;
1. To lower costs
2. Increase service
3. Increase sales
If you can’t connect a straight line back to one of these three business objectives than you probably wasting your time and you’re going to have a lot of people ask “why are we doing this ?” Regardless of what some social media people would have you believe businesses are in business to make money not rub the tummies of consumers to make them feel good.
Step 1 Plant the seeds with Management
The first thing you might want to consider is giving management an introduction into social media 101. You objective is to leave them with the idea that a lot of people are using social media (numbers) and that there are both upsides and downsides to using social media. Use examples of what others brands have done well along with some really bad social media marketing. Show clear connections between social media and brand/business objectives and stay away from vanity metrics like number of “likes” of followers because that means little when it comes to conversion.
Step 2 Do our customers and prospects really want to talk with us on social media ?
This is a question that every brand has to ask themselves. Remember the number one reason that people like a brand on social media is for discounts and the web only encompasses a very small part of a coupon strategy. The questions you need to ask are “why would anyone want to talk with us ?” and “do we have the resources to provide magnetic content to keep the conversation vibrant and relevant ?” Another thing to remember is that consumers are really time pressed and don’t have the time to follow a lot of brands so you also need to ask yourself “is our brand that important to our target audience?”
Step 3 The Strategy
So now you have management buy-in and you believe that you can use social media effectively as a marketing channel. Now comes the hard part. You’re going to need to determine how your social media strategy can integrate with your overall interactive strategy (no, you don’t recreate your website on a Facebook page) and how that in turn integrates with your overall marketing strategy. Do you drive people to your Facebook page and why vs. your branded website ? Do you ask people to follow you on Twitter and why ? Do you put social media icons in your ads to let people know you’re on Facebook and how often do you communicate with them ?
It’s very important that the strategy drives the resources here. Don’t let the resources limit your strategy or else you are stepping into the batters box with two strikes on you. As part of the strategy make sure that you have adequate metrics that connect what you’re doing with one of the top reasons to use social media otherwise you’re going to have people asking a lot of questions that require more time than actually marketing to consumers.
Step 4 Build it and they will come ?
This where an agency can really come in handy. Your Facebook page or Twitter account should be integrated with your brand communications. An agency can customize a Facebook page to ensure integration with your brand book but once that is done you have to ensure you have resources, in the form of a communication plan, to keep your marketing relevant.
Don’t expect immediate results. Remember it takes time to establish trust with skeptical consumers and you’re going to have to learn to talk as person rather than a brand. The person who is the voice of your brand also is going to have to learn how to talk to consumers and customers as a person. Remember Mitt Romney got heckled when he said “corporations are people”. A lot of consumers feel that way.
Finally show small victories in your social media program and let management know that social media, in order to be effective, is like a flower; it has to grow to become pretty. You’re probably going to screw up along the way but that’s part of the learning experience to become better. If you’re persistent and if you know how consumers are using the Internet and can get others excited by it you will be successful.