Here’s the thing: whether your business is there or not, your customers are probably on social media
. Almost 8 in 10 US adults (79%
) use social media, and eMarketer
predicts that this year, there will be 1.43 billion worldwide social media users.
Sure, your business should be leveraging social networks to reach, engage and interact with potential and existing customers, but do you have a strategy that will deliver on realistic goals and produce real benefits to your business? Below, are seven tips for social media integration and success.
1: SOCIAL STRATEGY TRUMPS TECHNOLOGY
Claiming your company’s Google+ Local Page, Facebook page or Twitter handle gets you a spot on those social networks, but it doesn’t guarantee success. There’s much more to leveraging social channels for traffic, engagement and leads than simply being present.
|How Do I Bring Social into My Business
It’s the overarching strategy, integration and how well your plan is executed online that ultimately dictates the success or failure of your social media campaigns.
Too often brands get caught up in the social media hype. The thinking is that “free” social media channels will land them plenty of new customers by simply signing up. That’s just not the case. As more and more companies vie for customers’ attention, only the most well-planned, -executed and -integrated campaigns will deliver results.
2: LISTEN FIRST
Social networks can provide great insight to the minds of your customers. Use Social Mention, Twitter Search, Google Alerts and other social listening technology to discover where your customers are hanging out online. But don’t stop there. Pay attention to what they’re talking about and the type of content they’re liking, sharing and engaging with. Take note of some of their biggest concerns and think about how your business can help them to overcome those obstacles. Use this information to build out your content strategy, information kits, product or service videos, or even television commercials.
3: DIFFERENTIATE YOUR BRAND
Are your competitors using social media? Check out their profiles online and make note of how active they are, how frequently they update their accounts and what content drives the most engagement from their fans and followers. You can gain some insight to their marketing strategy, while at the same time discovering what their community values. The more direct the competition is, the more likely your communities will be similar in their interactions with social media. Use that information to help differentiate your product in the minds of potential customers.
4: MAKE A PLAN
Surely all of this research has given you lots of ideas. Now it’s time to write them down! An editorial calendar is a great way to ensure you’ve got a steady stream of fresh content going out to your community via your company blog and/or social media profiles. Start by making note of important dates—special anniversaries, promotions or campaign launch dates—happening at your organization. Once you’ve got those on the calendar, use what you learned during the research stages to start planning your social media updates. It’s an easy way to ensure that you’re integrating your marketing strategy.
5: GET SOCIAL
You can’t set and forget your social media presence. In addition to sticking with the schedule on your content calendar, you need to be present in your community to engage and interact with your fans and followers. That means responding as quickly as possible to questions, comments or concerns voiced online. Thank your fans for their positive contributions and for sharing your content. The goal is to engage your community and get them talking. You never know when a question or comment will spark an idea for your next blog post, email newsletter or marketing campaign.
6: ANALYZE & ADAPT
A successful social media campaign doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to nurture a community before it transforms into the interactive space that you envision for your business. Continuously analyze community engagement to look for trends, tips or anything that could help your business to continue to build trust among your fans and followers and enhance the customer experience.
As the use of social media continues to grow worldwide, it is even more important for companies to develop a strong social identity to capture the attention of potential customers. Ultimately that success depends on an organization’s ability to deliver a consistent message to consumers across all of their advertising channels.
7: BUILD A SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
While critical in itself, social networking must (like everything else) make business sense and deliver ROI against the effort and expense. To maintain your social presence, you need knowledge, consistency, the ability to move fast when needed, and a clear strategy with budgets and resources allocated.
However, we often see that businesses find it difficult to harness social media to deliver heightened customer experience.
It is worthwhile to consider working with outsourced partners who bring you some of the skills and experience that is lacking in-house. You may already have existing channels for customer engagement and problem solving, like contact centers and Web-based portals. These need to work in sync with your social media strategy. Treat the outsourcing services provider as an extension of your enterprise and task them with the same goals you would deploy if you performed these social activities yourself.
To really be successful with social media marketing, companies need to focus on integrating it with their existing marketing efforts, both on and offline. A vital part of the marketing mix, social media is a great compliment to your print or television advertising and email or digital marketing. Outsourced marketing services providers very often provide an integrated digital marketing program that can effectively set up your social media pilot and take care of your requirements!
Has your business started integrating social channels with your other online or traditional marketing campaigns? Share your tips in the comments below.