If you’ve considered a social media campaign, but not yet dipped your toes in the water, the chances are that you’ve been deterred by the drawbacks. You’ll have found no shortage of people who are keen to share their scepticism: “How can we measure ROI on Facebook?”… “Can you imagine what a Twitter disaster could do to our brand?” … “Social networking is just a flash-in-the-pan media fad.”
Ignore them. The fact is that social media is a proven and effective business tool. Use it wisely and you’ll have a new voice for your customers to engage with, and you’ll make more sales in the long run.
If you learn what works, and you match your social media to your business aims, then you’ll be on to a winner. This is how you do it…
Step one – research
As with any new campaign – whether online or not – it’s important to find out what’s already going on and being said about your topic, brand or industry. Many social networks now have good search functions, so gauging activity and interest across the various platforms should be a reasonably quick and easy task.
Also be sure to find out what competitors or experts have achieved with social media, and why they have enjoyed such success. If you know what’s possible, it’s much easier to decide what will best help your own business.
Step two – strategy
Before you dive head first into your new campaign you need to take a step back and set some business goals. These will allow you to measure your success later on. For example, do you want more visitors to help build your brand, or to engage with a particular group so that you can target your sales?
Or perhaps you’re looking for a new way to offer customer support? Many big companies, including BT, have used social platforms in this way.
Step three – find a social “champion”
Choose someone in the company who “gets” social media and can engage on all fronts. If the person you choose has one or more popular social networking accounts, with lots of followers and high levels of engagement, then they will be effective from day one.
Having someone on board with experience of what works and what doesn’t is also invaluable. Clear direction will give your campaign focus and make sure your message remains consistent.
Step four – identify channels of focus
With so many social networks out there, you need to choose where you want to start. If you plan a branding campaign, your choice of network may be different than for a drive to collect data.
Make sure you are clear on your target demographic before you begin. LinkedIN, for example, tends to be most popular with young professionals. In the USAonly a small percentage of the population is on Twitter but those who do use the service are highly engaged – much more so than with many other social channels. Twitter can therefore gain you brand ambassadors who will spread the word for you, if approached correctly.
This kind of understanding will save you plenty of time in the long run and make sure that no effort is wasted.
However, constant evaluation is also important. Continually assess whether you are using the most appropriate channels and re-prioritise your focus based on ROI.
Step five – measure properly
If you’ve worked with Coast Digital before, you’ll know that our mantra is “marketing you can measure” – and we’re always looking for opportunities to quantify the results of all online activity.
While it is more difficult to measure the impact of social media marketing than that of PPC or affiliate campaigns, it’s not impossible. Social media can drive people to search for your brand, and we can set up Google Analytics to accurately attribute social media leads that might otherwise be counted as direct or brand search traffic – people often end up buying via a brand search, although the initial source was social media.
You could also, at a very basic level, look at how many people join your network or engage with you over a period of time. Click-through rates to your corporate website or targeted landing pages from social platforms can also be effectively measured.
Look out for my next post. I’ll be addressing social media tactics for businesses and offering advice on some of the neglected social platforms for marketing.