It is no longer a debate concerning IF companies should embrace social media marketing. Conservative estimates predict the number of worldwide social media users to touch 2.5 billion by 2018. The audience is clearly going social in a big way. The question now is HOW businesses can execute the best social media marketing strategy to deepen their customer engagement.
While there are umpteen strategies, hacks, paid advertising campaigns, and more when it comes to embracing the ‘social way’ in marketing, not every move is effective in generating the desired response. Here are some key do’s and don’ts for brands to adopt and avoid respectively.
- Audience is king – understand them better: First things first, before you start communicating, you must know your customers inside out. What do they do when online? What are their likes and dislikes? How do they like being talked to? Social media holds a treasure trove of real time customer data – leverage the same to derive meaningful actionable insights to heighten your customer awareness.
- Quality matters, not quantity: While it is important to post regular social media updates on channels where your audience spend time, the quality of content/video matters more. If your messaging is dull, irrelevant, ill-timed, or overly self-promoting, it is not likely to strike the right chord with the audience. Part of quality is knowing when and how to promote your business – try following the 80/20 rule here. Position 80% of your social media content in a way that it answers your customers’ needs/queries/interests, while 20% or less can be promotional i.e. about your business, products or services. Interactive experiences also make for quality customer engagement – use more videos, 360-degree brand messaging, infographics, surveys, quizzes, etc.
- Test, learn, test again: In social media marketing, there is no one size fits all approach – what works for one brand, may backfire completely for you or vice versa. Coming up with an effective strategy is all about testing different hypotheses, carefully measuring the performance metrics, leveraging the insights to iterate your campaign and measuring again to validate your understanding. Before testing, it is important to know what you will be measuring the results against – traffic, clicks, visits, engagement, etc. Once you know what approach works with your audience, optimize your social media spend accordingly to get the maximum bang for your buck. However, do remember that social media trends change rapidly – what works today may not do tomorrow. Adopt a continuous test and learn methodology for sustained value.
- Say no to like-baiting: The latter refers to luring the audience to like a particular post simply on the basis of killer headlines and imagery. Often the actual content that follows is very poor in quality, irrelevant, not related to the heading at all, or simply repeated from multiple other trending posts. This leaves the audience angry, frustrated, and they are sure to never like/read your posts again – long term loss for a momentary traffic surge.
- Robots are great in technology, not in social media: The last thing your customers want is a robotic, monotonous approach to their queries or rants. Who doesn’t love an enthusiastic, compassionate talk when they are trying to research a product or share an important moment. Remember, a little humour done the intelligent way can soothe even the most irritated customer and generate some empathy for your brand, if not compliments. Get creative, be thoughtful towards your customers, never ignore them, and throw in some light moments here and there – voila! you will have your audience in full attention.
- Don’t make assumptions about your audiences’ interests: We are a great company, we have a plethora of good products/services to offer you, you must buy from us/hire us right now! Each of these is a done-to-death and boring approach at engaging your prospects. Instead of using social media to blatantly market your brand, use data from social feeds, tools, and conversations to know what your audiences are after and then try solving some of their business/personal problems through your brand. Your customers will be delighted to see that you care about them instead of treating them as plain objects.
You have won 80% of the battle
If you have your creative ideas all jotted down, interactive designs ready, and great content to match – you have gained almost 80% of the ground already. The rest 20% is all about getting your strategy right – the timing, frequency, analysis, iterations, etc. and that’s where we hope these do’s and don’ts should help you. With social media spending expected to increase by more than double in the coming five years, the channel sure has the potential to make or break your brand. Create a strategy that draws audience towards your brand and keeps them coming back for more.