The digital marketing space is an exciting one. While traditional marketing methods like print and broadcast allow marketers to talk to consumers, the newest digital methods allow marketers to talk with consumers. Shiny new tech tools enable modern marketers to develop content that is tailored to their customers’ needs, interests and lifestyles. As one of these marketers, you have the unique opportunity to engage directly with your customers, get to know them on a personal level, and form genuine, productive relationships. But how do you form these relationships? The answer is simple: Build them strategically through a social media marketing strategy.
Why Social Media?
A recent Forbes article reported that the average user will spend more time per day on social media than on eating, drinking and grooming. That’s nearly two hours every day (or a lifetime total of 5 years and four months) spent scrolling, swiping and double-tapping. For these dedicated users, social media is an outlet of communication and self-expression. It’s a feed of selfies, funny memes, news, gossip and a network of friends, family and celebrity crushes. For your company however, social media is an invaluable, cost-effective marketing tool with a built-in audience. With this tool, you have the ability to cultivate a strong brand image, directly address customer concerns and drive customers towards a given product. Let’s explore these advantages below.
These days, “company culture” is a prized concept. It’s the character of your organization, and it’s often the determining decision-making factor for your future customers. Now more than ever, customers are drawn to companies with strong values, pleasing aesthetics and seemingly enjoyable work environments. Who wouldn’t want to do business with a morally conscious, fun, friendly company? In this digital age nothing is sacred. Technology has made it nearly impossible for companies to thrive off the grid. To succeed is to jump on the social media bandwagon, which actually isn’t as bad as it might sound. Social media platforms allow companies the rare ability to control and manage their own images. Companies can choose their voices, shape their aesthetics and put their best values and characteristics on display through photos, videos and cunning captions.
Social media offers a direct line of two-way communication between you and your customers. The process is simple: you post and your followers respond. Feedback has never been more immediate and relevant. You’re seeing results instantaneously, and the trendiest social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are evolving constantly to optimize these results for you. For instance, Instagram’s recent poll feature invites users to provide instant feedback on Instagram Stories. By utilizing this function, Marketers have the power to customize these polls and pose specific questions to their followers about anything from current products to upcoming projects. The poll feature can be likened to a focus group, just without all the fuss and muss of putting together an actual focus group.
As far as driving customers towards your product, there are various digital applications that provide insights to customer trends. Facebook Analytics generates customized graphics that track your customers’ engagement and provide you with a deeper understanding of your audience. Once retrieved, these insights allow you to create marketing campaigns that reflect your audience’s needs and habits. From there, you can take advantage of in-app features that use this data to personalize your advertisements. Facebook and Instagram are utilizing Canvas ad format, a full-screen ad experience that allows users to engage with ad content without having to access a separate browser. This way social media users will have uninhibited access to your company and products. Think you’re still missing a few vital corners of social media? Don’t forget you’ll have a web of industry influencers at the tips of your fingers. You can take advantage of these influencers and their vast networks by enlisting them to promote your company.
The ever-changing nature of social media means endless opportunities for your company. As social media platforms make new developments, you’ll have to follow suit. While some may see this as an arduous task, it’s actually a great opportunity to expand into new territory.
Now that we’ve provided the fundamental benefits of social media for your company, we’re going to introduce you to the stages of a social media marketing strategy, important tips to contemplate as you carry out this transformation and the challenges you’ll face along the way.
Stages to Consider As You Transform Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Below, you’ll find 5 stages of the buyer journey. Refer to these stages to measure the success of your social media marketing strategies. Ask yourself, what stages are my followers at in their buying journeys? How should I tailor my content to move them along to the next stages?
The first stage. Catch the consumer’s eye. This is where you can really let those creative juices flow. Ask yourself the following questions: what is my brand’s mission? Values? Products? Sense of humor? What do I want the user to learn? You’re developing your brand’s voice and identity, so you’ll want to be clear and consistent. Give the user a peek into your company culture and invite them in.
So you’ve caught someone’s eye, and now they want to learn a bit more about your brand before making an informed decision. Here, you’ll want to develop a foundation of trust with your audience. Post customer testimonials, success stories, informative blog posts and product demos. Entrepreneur published a piece stressing the importance of the consideration stage. Though this content might seem dull and unlikely to draw likes and shares, it’s positively vital to establishing your company’s efficacy.
At this point in the buyer journey, your customers are well-versed in your company and its offerings. They are familiar with your products, mission, and history, and will use this knowledge to make an informed decision to either proceed with your brand or retreat. It’s your job to give them that extra nudge. Provide links that lead them towards your website and gated content: eBooks, Whitepapers, free trials, etc. An article from Hubspot suggests offering valuable incentives to get customers on the phone with sales representatives during the decision stage. For example, instead of offering free consultations, offer deliverables and tangible products.
Your job doesn’t end after the sale. Now you’re tasked with retaining those customers you worked so hard to get. Luckily, various digital tools allow you to sift through social media content and pinpoint your company’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Use this information to address feedback and keep customers happy. Keep an eye out for negative comments about your company: don’t delete them or seek out ways to cover them up. Respond and alleviate. By ignoring customer concerns, you risk losing both current and future business. Oftentimes, simply responding to a negative concern is enough to satisfy a disgruntled consumer.
This stage relates closely to the previous stage. Engage with your customers and turn them into advocates for your brand. Respond to their messages, posts, or comments. Make them feel heard and appreciated. Develop social media campaigns that encourage audience participation. Remember our discussion about industry influencers? Luckily, every single one of your followers has the potential to be an influencer. Encouraging them to participate in your future campaigns means accessing their individual, extensive networks.
Things to Keep In Mind As You Build Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
As you create a new role for social media in your marketing strategy, you’ll have to accommodate for quite a few moving pieces. Your content will change, you’ll have multiple profiles to manage, and you’ll have a larger audience to cater to. The following is a comprehensive checklist of measures to keep in mind as you go along.
- Keep your brand’s voice consistent
Make sure that your company’s mission, values and voice are trickling down into all of your social media platforms. This means ensuring that your teams, across all departments, are all on the same page. Anyone in your company with access to your social accounts should have a clear and thorough understanding of your company’s voice and goals as you develop social content. Hootsuite recommends formulating a social media style guide for your employees to ensure this consistency across social media platforms. The guide should contain the following: a list of the company’s social accounts, a breakdown of social media goals, an audience summary, a definition of your brand’s voice, a list of acceptable/preferred words and phrases, scheduling and design guidelines and legal considerations.
- Create valuable content
We’ve already said that the digital marketing space is exciting. What we haven’t discussed is that it’s highly saturated. Your company, and every other company in between, is taking advantage of the digital landscape; it’s free, it’s large and its reach seems virtually limitless. What you have to keep in mind is that you’re just one voice among many. It’s your job to make yourself heard. Make sure that your content stands out, or adds value to your customers’ lives. Be concise, be vibrant, and be influential.
- Transform your website
All roads lead back to your website, the digital hub of your company. No matter which social media platforms you employ, you can bet potential customers will be paying a visit to your website at some point. According to Chartbeat, the average user spends about 15 seconds on a website before deciding whether or not to leave. That means you have mere seconds to captivate a visitor. Your homepage should be compelling, visually pleasing, simple to navigate and on track with your brand’s values.
- Remodel your blog
Now that you’re employing new social media marketing strategies, you’ll want to rejuvenate that blog of yours accordingly. Make sure that the content stylistically matches your social media content. You’ll also want your blog to reach a wider audience. Add social share buttons so readers can repost your pieces as they please and encourage social sharing by incorporating comment sections, podcasts, videos, images and other engaging visuals into your blog posts. Below, you’ll find a before and after example displaying how our team remodeled a client’s blog. Notice the addition of images, a comment section, and a cleaner, more elegant layout.
Some Challenges of Social Media Marketing
You’ll notice that the following challenges are about ‘adapting,’ ‘keeping up’ and ‘evolving.’ All synonyms of one another. There’s that old saying about how the only constant in life is change. Well, that’s definitely the case for marketing. The greatest challenges you’ll face are associated with this concept of change and keeping up, and the only way to compete is to adapt.
- Adapting to an increasingly user-driven digital world.
Users have the ability to control their own digital experiences; they can unsubscribe, scroll down, block, etc. If they don’t like what you’re putting in front of them, they’ll remove you from the picture altogether. Your job is to utilize the insights tools we’ve discussed to monitor what kinds of content your users want and don’t want, so you can disseminate only what’s relevant.
- Keeping up with the user’s pace.
Users are fast. Facebook IQ found that people can recall mobile news feed content after only .25 seconds of exposure (correction: users are very fast!). It’s your duty to ensure that the information they receive in those .25 seconds is poignant, quick to download, and mobile-friendly.
- Evolving with social media.
Social media features and functions are constantly evolving to fit technology trends and consumer needs. Your social media marketing strategies must adapt to these changes. Do your best to stay up to date with top social media networks and their newest developments and modernize accordingly. If Instagram rolls out a new ad feature for businesses like yours, you should know about it first and have a reactionary plan in motion.
It’s Time to Take The Reins
As modern consumers grow accustomed to personalized digital advertisements, they are less and less inclined to settle for anything other than a buying experience that is tailored to their own specific needs. This trend has set increasingly high standards for all marketers to meet.
Fortunately, social media marketing strategies have allowed marketers to meet and surpass these standards. Via social media platforms and insights tools, marketers can communicate directly with their audiences, discover where their interests and habits lie and implement marketing campaigns that effectively reflect these findings. They can engage directly with their users, form genuine relationships and appeal to their unique interests.
That being said, the multitude of new possibilities associated with social media can seem overwhelming. After all, your audience is no longer limited to the recipients of your print and broadcast materials. You not only have access to your own followers, but subsequently, you have access to your followers’ followers, and their followers, and so on. All in the palm of your hand. By incorporating social media into your marketing strategy, your content now has the potential to reach thousands and thousands of people. Implementing a careful and creative social media marketing strategy will allow you to make the most of these many new connections.
Still have some questions about your social media marketing strategy? Where to begin? What platforms to zero in on? Contact our team and we’ll develop a custom-fit social media marketing strategy for your needs and goals.
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