To tweet or not to tweet is just one of the latest conundrums to challenge even the most astute marketer. If you are struggling to keep abreast of all the latest buzz terms and most importantly understand how you can successfully develop a social media marketing strategy for your company then this article is for you.
Before we go any further lets get one thing straight. Social media marketing is NOT just a medium it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. Brands need to stop controlling communication and instead engage in a constant dialogue with their target community. Get it right and the rewards are immense get it wrong and the risk are even greater.
To help ensure you are on the right path for success I have created 7 top tips for social marketing
1. Research your customers- The first step is to map out where your customers/potential customers are online. What networks and forums do they belong? What blogs do they write and/or contribute to?
2. Listen hard- Your listening skills are crucial to understand your customers. What are they saying and what are they interested in and what are they not? You will also uncover invaluable information on their drivers and key challenges. Monitor key blogs, social networks and RSS feeds. Take note of your you key influencers within the communities- these are made up of the most active online individuals.
3. Monitor your competition- Research your top five competitors to find out what groups they have created and the groups they have contributed to. What are they adding to the discussion? Are the liked? Are people interested in what they have to say? Do they have a blog and is it updated regularly? You can glean so much intelligence from what your competitors are doing right and equally what they are doing wrong.
4. Be open- You must encourage people to engage in a dialogue with you. You need to deal with your customers in public. Remember that only a handful of your customers are going to want to talk to you but how you handle those that do influence everyone else. All your customers and potential customers will want to know that your organisation encourages customer feedback (positive and negative) and listens then responds. Create a customer forum and ensure you dedicate a resource that focuses on prompt responses.
5. Add value to be accepted- You don’t want to be a virtual “room filler” watching conversations take place. You want to be engaging, interesting and thought provoking. Here you need to let your creative juices flow. Focus your energy on creating content that is relevant, topical and freely available and at all costs avoid putting barriers around your content.
6. Be patient –You need to adopt a long term view on social media marketing. You must dedicate resource(s) to online communities and ensure you are regularly contributing and adding fresh content. By integrating social media marketing into other elements are your marketing mix you are far more likely to drive awareness of your brand and be perceived a key player within your market.
7. Measure- With all aspects of marketing the return on investment (ROI) is key and social media marketing is no exception. There are no hard and fast rules of what to measure and over time you will create your own success metrics. Here are a few I’ve created to get you started.
· Capture your unique site visitors (daily and weekly)
· Record the nature feedback your customers give you
· The number of conversations you start and those you contribute to, the nature of the conversation and the thread popularity
· Number of back links you add
Social media marketing is not an exact science however used effectively you can reap huge rewards.
Good luck and happy networking
Chapman, T., 2009. Communities are not a right- they are a privilege. B2B Magazine, April 09. P43
Five things your brand should ask about social media in 2009, Fresh Networks Blog, December 2008 http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2008/12/five-things-your-brand-should-ask-about-social-media-in-2009/
Five ways to engage your customers in 2009, Fresh Networks Blog, December 2008 http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2008/12/five-ways-to-engage-your-customers-in-2009
Fleet, D., 2008. Success Beckons the Social Media-Driven Enterprise. http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/62704
Meadows-Klue, D. 2009. Getting social media marketing to deliver real business results
Technology for Marketing and Advertising Event, February 2009. http://www.seminarstreams.com/TFM&A-keynotes.asp