A good strategy can be broken down into 7 steps
1. Observe and create a customer map
3. Evaluate platforms – there are a multitude of different platforms available and the right platform may well change as the social media strategy develops – what is seen as a ‘right fit’ now may well have changed next month.
4. Engage – this can be on many levels and different platforms.
5. Measure – analyse, feedback, regroup and analyse again.
6. Promote – use as many channels as you can to bring traffic and therefore help the community grow
7. Improve – analyse, feedback, regroup and analyse again, as you learn from traffic and feedback so each campaign/posting improves and grows
Observe and create a customer map
Be prepared to find lots of groups that will fall under the category of ‘customer’. When considering social media interaction, the stronger the dialogue, the stronger the brand, therefore the larger the amount of groups to interact with, the stronger your dialogue will be on every front. Brand can be built up around product enhancement and user experience – ultimately Facebook groups or Facebook page(s) advertising that can highlight new product releases, specific product upgrades or marketing promotions will help create greater community awareness. Bear in mind that some of the groups that come under the customer category may well overlap which can only be a good thing as it helps reinforce brand ideology across a greater audience.
Private communities are an ideal strategy for corporate social media – clubs and societies that have already shown a brand affinity can be targeted within a social media group environment. LinkedIn is a good platform to promote business, in many of these online communities a business can learn more from listening initially rather than asking the probing questions that they want the answer to. Post an image and view the response – here you are listening to the audience before any interaction begins. This is a great medium for anything new in the marketplace, be it a model of car or a new integrated software option on an established market leader.
In this you need to enlist a core group or individuals that will run the social media campaign the natural progression from there is deciding on the audience you wish to target or recruit. Target audiences can be defined through a choice of arena – behaviour, demographics, topical interests, or any other category you feel fits into the ultimate business goal.
These need to fit within your chosen goals. They can follow a single line strategy or can encompass quite a few channels at one time; a few lend themselves to be used in conjunction with the others. Examples follow:
Reputation aggregators (a site that provides rankings of content/sites, they are the key gateway that most internet users follow to reach online content.)
Search engines e.g. Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Bing etc. this needs to take in SEO so that the search engines find your website/blog through the key words you want to promote. SEO helps with organic optimisation – this can be a slow process and can take up to 3 months for your site/pages to be ranked. Many websites have the added advantage of an integrated search facility – perfect for an initial internal social media campaign.
Search falls into quite a few categories now – social and contextual
Paid search is dependent on your market area, this can be costly, examples are Google Pay Per Click (PPC) other search engines such as Yahoo and Ask offer sponsored results.
E-communities such as chat rooms that contain professional content with reader comment interaction (LinkedIn), Twitter, Facebook groups, perhaps consider a virtual world arena such as Secondlife or Pokemon Go.
Social networks – this heading covers an array
Many websites now aim for the Web 2.0 concept to allow all of these applications to run in a single webpage enclosure.
Engage with the community on a variety of channels, a great example of a brand engaging through social media and the overlapping components is Apple. Apple builds dialogue around product enhancement and the user. Range Rover used Twitter as a form of ‘treasure hunt’ at the LA motor show with the Hello Evoque campaign giving map references that Twitter users could follow to view the designer commissioned promotional work. This example showed the wire frame Evoque. The 2011 Range Rover Evoque launch YouTube video received over 273,755 views . This video was directly linked with a Facebook campaign the Range Rover Evoque Facebook page had way over 308,321 likes in the first few months of launch. Just a simple measure of traffic induced though social media. Get to know your audience and choose your channel of engagement accordingly. Positive stroking works, flatter your audience and they will return for more. Gamify your marketing strategy add rewards in the form of icons or badges if a consumer shares your video or ‘likes’ your Facebook pages. The Facebook craze of Empire Avenue that used an online social stock market arena showed the use of gamification to reward consumers for ‘gaming’ for business. Automotive companies such as Bentley and Jaguar have introduced iPhone apps to allow the consumer to configure full model specifications via the online application.
Engagement can be measured in 4 ways
- Involvement within the business environment this can be defined as the presence of a person at various key defined touch points.
- Interaction – this involves the action taken by those engaged in the touch points above.
- Intimacy – the sentiment expressed in blogs, forums about brand
- Influence – this includes such things as brand awareness, loyalty, repurchases; – in places such as
Twitter this would be represented by the amount something is re-tweeted.
Consideration needs to be taken for the ways in which your audience will assimilate any communication. People learn in 3 key ways
1. Visual – read, watch and learn
2. Auditory – listen
3. Kinaesthetic – hands on and copy
These forms of learning styles can be assimilated through social media traits Visual through blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter URL links. Auditory use of video through YouTube, kinaesthetic through YouTube video tutorials, promotional (brand or product specific) video channels work well here.
This can be taken hand in hand with engagement as the amount of engagement when measured through statistical analysis gives a good response to a social media campaign. There is a vast array of statistical analysis software products to use to measure the success of your social media campaign.
‘If you build it – they will come,’ does not always ring true with websites or social media arenas, you need to let people know that your creation exists – make sure that your information is suitably optimised for search engines etc. Adding a simple search facility on your website, creating a YouTube channel for your promotional videos, a Facebook group or fan page for brand or specific model linked to a Twitter account with a keyword specific name example @mclass or @mercedes-benz. Remember content feeds search engines which in turn feeds the online communities; blogs that have constantly changing content are the perfect channel to get your message out there. The addition of an RSS feed option from your company blog ensures you deliver your new articles directly into your consumer followed feeds.
From regular analytic observations, and monitored feedback via micro blogs e.g. Twitter, any improvements needed can be actioned as appropriate. Twitter gives immediate feedback on a campaign watching keywords and listings allows for immediate action if a wording in a campaign is not well received, an offline magazine review does not give this luxury. A social media campaign moves at an instantaneous pace; its key communication strategy needs to be considered almost to a day to day interaction arena. New apps or YouTube videos need scheduling to roll out with the launch or pre-launch of a new model. A model upgrade can be drip fed through a variety of short campaigns through Twitter to engage your audience and give the marketing pull to make the consumer your next customer. Customer feedback in the online community becomes your future marketers; word of mouth praise becomes viral in such online communities. This is where a company needs to constantly listen to the online babble and act immediately to any negativity. A quick response to a bad experience only helps to enhance a brand’s credibility. This has been illustrated with social media interaction from the Dell Corporation and United Airlines. Dell dealt well with bad customer feedback and went on to see a rapid growth in sales. United Airlines ignored social media conversations and suffered from the bad publicity caused.
To sum up a well designed and implemented social media campaign can improve traffic to your website or sites, promote products and overall brand and so help encourage further sales.