This article originally appeared on TOKY.com.
John, Paul, George, and Ringo taught many of us about life through the eloquence of their lyrics. We’ve been inspired, motivated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, and gone a little trippy at times all to the soundtrack of The Beatles. If you wanted more proof that genius music is truly applicable everywhere (even in the digital age), allow me to offer the following:
Bear with me, it will make sense in a minute.
If you’re going on a roadtrip, you don’t fill only half of the gas tank.
It’s not Throwback Thursday (yet) but we’re still going to hop in our Way Back Machine and look at a lesson from Marketing 101 more than a decade ago: the three-legged stool. If you wanted to be a power player, you had to master advertising online (think SEO, PPC, etc.), print, and in-person — without any one of these “legs” the stool wouldn’t be stable.
As marketing has evolved, exactly what each leg entails evolved with the consumer. Now, the “online” portion of the three-legged stool is less PPC and more content creation, curation, and social media. You’re already creating excellent online content (more about content’s importance here) why not make use of free platforms to self-promote and get your expertise in front of a broad audience? You’re only taking your marketing halfway if you stop before you tweet. Enter social media.
Social media isn’t an accessory to a strong digital brand presence. Instead, it’s the Little Black Dress of your marketing — versatile, always appropriate, and fitted to make anyone look their best. It’s an integral part of your overall marketing and media strategy and should be incorporated into your strategic goals. From relationship marketing to event ticket sales, it’s the workhorse of your arsenal with a little strategic tailoring.
Business itself is social. Using every tool at your disposal, especially the social ones, makes good business sense.
Don’t shout. Listen.
Some of the biggest brands in the market are demonstrating their ability to listen first and talk second. This isn’t Field of Dreams; an audience won’t flock to you simply because you exist. As digital media and marketing has changed to be more social, what consumers expect from brands has changed, too. Brands used to be able to blast their marketing messages out with taglines recommended by three out of four dentists. Now, consumers want to know the name of that fourth dentist and why he didn’t like it. They want transparency, authenticity, and to feel there is a human behind the marketing.
Luckily, social media lets you accomplish all three. But only if you view it as a conversation channel, not a conversion channel. If you want engagement, you have to be engaging.
Talk with, not at, your audience. Otherwise you’re no better than the fool on the hill.
You’re not providing anything unique.
Just as your brand is unique, your digital marketing should be, too. And that marketing should be tailored to your unique audiences, both in strategy and in messaging. Your brand isn’t one size fits all and that’s OK.
While an average is nice, it’s also very misleading. If you want to market to the “average” consumer, your message will end up being watered down and ineffective. Your brand will be weak and indistinguishable from your competitors. Many brands do this when they’re eager to please as many potential leads as possible, but they don’t nourish the relationship with any real substance and their leads evaporate. The role of specific, targeted, and relevant social media content cannot be overstated.
The key is to know your target audiences: how they think (and purchase), what matters to them (and how you can answer it), and how you can demonstrate that your brand values mirror their own. Your audience isn’t one size fits all, and your digital voice shouldn’t be, either. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all consumer, there is no universal social media strategy that works the same for Client A as it does for Client B. (Frankly, I’d be out of a job if there were.)
Even as marketers, we’re consumers, too. Step back and look at your brand’s digital footprint critically, as a consumer. Is it resonating with you because you know the backend of the brand or does it resonate because your social media is articulate, engaging, and strategic?
Just because everyone else has it, doesn’t mean you need it.
Your mom told you that when you begged for a Hypercolor tee or a pet rock. A year later, was your life worse without it? Probably not.
If it’s a question of capacity that’s keeping your marketing efforts away from social media, let’s look back at the target audiences above. Which social media platforms are most important to them? Reach your consumer where they’re most statistically likely to be. If your product is a lifestyle brand for young twenty-somethings who are really into surfing, you probably don’t want to spend the bulk of your marketing efforts or dollars on LinkedIn. (Try Instagram instead.)
Identify which channels are best for your goals and audience. Start there. It’s better to do a few very targeted things well than to do all of them poorly. Spreading your staff hours, marketing budget, or efforts too thin isn’t going to help in the long run.
Similarly, putting everything out there without a strategy behind the messaging results in a “helter skelter” result. Understanding how to use the key differences in social media demographics, platforms, and usage separates the wannabes from the marketing pros.
Just because you tweet doesn’t mean you have a social media marketing strategy. And just because you have a company Facebook page doesn’t mean you’ll increase sales if you don’t incorporate both into your long haul strategic approach.
Social media is inherently less formal than the marketing of a decade ago. Since consumers expect authenticity from brands online, they also have a different expectation of the consumer-brand relationship.
Paying for “likes”, “follows”, or “fans” seems too good to be true because it is. These aren’t connections who will be valuable to your brand or likely to be worthwhile leads. They may not be real, let alone relevant. And it will hurt your credibility and metrics in the long run.
Let me phrase it another way. Do you really want to buy your friends? If you have to bribe or buy them, they’re not good enough for you, honey.
A solid digital marketing strategy will earn your audience through captivating content, relevant information, and incentives to engage and share your messaging forward.
A successful social media brand strategy values quality connections over quantity of fans, and recognizes brand loyalty. These “brand ambassadors” are the ones most likely to offer personal recommendations to their friends offline (the holy grail of “likes”). Giving your digital audience a reason to come back to your social media pages is an excellent way to acquire and, more importantly, retain a valuable consumer base.
It’s a basic human psychological fact that stats and numbers don’t typically “stick”. Stories do. Be personable with your brand and give your audience the authenticity they crave. These narrative moments help create deep connections between the brand and consumer. You believe in your brand for a reason, enough so that you’ve put your name, money, and effort behind it. Show your audience why they should, too.
Draw them in, pivot for suspense, and end with a memorable moment.
Storytelling is a marketing trend for good reason: it works. Changing how you present your narrative changes how you well you’re able to make connections and attract relationships (for good or ill). This is true whether you’re in scientific research or finding homes for shelter pets. And social media is the ideal place to tell your brand story 140 characters at a time.
Let’s get physics-al.
For every post, there is an equal and opposite reaction from your audience. Think of it as Newton’s Third Law for social media. What you post matters directly to your audience behavior. But do you know the why and how? If you can’t answer that, chances are your social media strategy is floundering.
The most common reason social media marketing fails is from a lack of monitoring, measuring, and effective analysis. If you don’t know where you’re losing your audience or what engages them most, your strategy isn’t working (see Nowhere Man above).
When you analyse your data to see where your weakest areas are, you have the opportunity to improve and build on what you’ve learned.
In rare instances, a poorly thought out post (like jumping on a trending topic without understanding the context) hits a sour note. These can be epic and incredibly painful to watch. The consumer backlash is immediate and harsh. Own up to it.
Retarget, re-evaluate, improve. Earn (back) the trust of your audience. Failure sucks. But it isn’t final. There’s still time. Get back, Jojo.
You know your audience and you know your brand. Your social media should reflect both.
Hopefully you’re starting to see that social media is approachable rather than floating up in the sky with diamonds. More importantly, you should start to see how social media is cruical to your overall digital marketing.
Still more than you want to take on yourself? No Lonely Hearts Club here. TOKY’s Brand Publishing department can help craft a custom strategy and voice to embody your brand online.