As Paul Gillin stated, “Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media.” Social media has forever changed the way people communicate with each other, media and brands. The marketing and customer service potential is huge, but as with any medium it is of utmost importance to have a strong strategy and a good understanding of the different platforms, as you cannot control the conversation once it started.
Social media is a natural fit for marketing as it allows you to connect with consumers in an environment that is familiar to the customer.
Additional advantages that social media platforms create are amongst others:
- Better insights. From a purely analytical perspective, social media gives marketers access to incredible amounts of data and insights that previously went undetected. For the first time ever, marketers are able to study customers over long periods of time with minimal disturbance. They can tell a lot about individuals based on profile information, content shared, posts liked, and more. Ultimately, all of this can be used to develop highly targeted campaigns.
- Bypassing gatekeepers. In the past, there has always been a gatekeeper in marketing. Whether it was publishing a press release through a specific platform or working with a member of the media to write an article, someone always stood between the brand and the customer. Social media changes this and allows brands to be more responsive and efficient.
- Organic campaigns. Ideally, marketing is so natural that customers don’t see the campaigns as overt advertisements. This has been difficult to master in decades past. By always being there for customers, brands become part of the social experience.
With the vast array of platforms available, it’s important to know why you are present on a specific social media platform. What is the intent of your presence and how will you communicate to stay true to your brand personality and core promise.
The product or service plus the demographics of the target audience will determine the voice and style of a brand on social media. Keep in mind what tone, language and the purpose of your communication at all times.
Tone – Be clear to followers about what and how the brand will communicate online. Is your brand cheeky and irreverent or serious and formal?
Language – What type of language will the brand use online? A young and hip brand might get away with more slang, or a niche brand may use more acronyms and industry-specific language.
Purpose – Identify the main reason the brand is on social media? Is your goal to educate or entertain or your Brand Personality to be believable you must remember to talk like a human being, ditch the corporate tone of voice.
Below is a social media “cheat sheet”, a summary of the different platforms, their users and pro’s and con’s that can assist you in deciding which ones would fit your overall marketing strategy best.
Regardless of your social media strategy there are some ‘universal’ Do’s and Don’ts that can be used as a guideline.
Remember who you are talking to.
Your customers are not you, talk to them about what they want to hear, not what you want to hear/ tell. As always use the 80/20 rule. 80% is what interesting to them (tips, info, stories) and 20% about your business.
Be active on your social media, but don’t post so often that you overwhelm or annoy people.
Keep an eye on timing.
Experiment by posting at different times and pay attention to the analytics. Find out when your followers are most active on social media.
Remain true to your brand voice
Make sure your message is clear and consistent across all channels: website, public, social media, etc.
We’ve been taught to share since we were kids. Some things never change. This is one of those things. Share information
Double check before you post.
Check your grammar, tone of voice, links etc. before you hit that share button.
Think out the Box.
Be creative, stand out and be interactive. Show your brand personality.
Use as a tool to improve customer service.
Customer service has always been about connecting with customers and social media creates the perfect platform for this.
Dull, boring posts lead to dull, boring results. You have to be excited about your company, your product and the services you can provide your customers. If you aren’t excited and don’t love what you stand for, neither will your clients.
Select the correct platform.
Just because everyone else seems to be on Facebook doesn’t mean you need to be. Social media isn’t one-size- fits-all. If you want to improve your SEO, then Google+ or YouTube might be your best choice. If you want to drive traffic to your site or improve your customer engagement, then Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest might be a better fit, according to Social Media Today.
Don’t look self-absorbed.
Of course you like your post. You posted it. But don’t “like” or “favorite” your own material. Encourage your employees, however, to share and like the material that is posted. Your employees can be your brand’s greatest ambassadors.
Don’t get out dated.
Use your social media. Having a Facebook page or Twitter account isn’t enough. You have to maintain your accounts to make them work for you.
If you are launching a product and post hints or pictures too early, it could destroy the whole product launch that others worked so hard to build.
Don’t forget you are who you associate with.
Just because someone follows you, doesn’t mean you have to follow them back. Think of it as choosing who you surround yourself with in real life. Before you follow back, think of how it will reflect on you.
Don’t exist in a silo.
Just as you would in real-life, always work to make connections and grow your brand by networking and building quality relationships on social media.
Don’t create risks.
Once you share something on the Internet, it doesn’t go away. Sure, you can delete the post, but screenshots live forever. Privacy settings and passwords are important.
Don’t abuse your customers’ time.
Nobody likes spam, whether it is via email or social media. If you are constantly posting the same information over and over or inundating your followers, you risk becoming a nuisance.
Don’t ignore your followers.
Use comments as an opportunity to interact with your followers and show them how you address positive and negative situations.
Don’t hide mistakes.
Addressing negative comments shows that your company is proactive in resolving issues and that you aim to serve your customers.
Don’t lose the personal touch.
Using too much automation will create the impression that your customers are talking to a computer.
AUTHOR: Adéle Maritz