To make sense of social media and online marketing, it’s important to take a step back and look at the nature of how these things are going to work for the overall business.
There are many questions that need answers: “Should we develop a strategy first before engaging?”, “Should we experiment and develop a strategy as we go?”, “Will it ever be OK to ask customers if they want to buy directly within social channels or will we always have to think around the subject?”
Parhaps a few considerations will help answer those questions and establish the framework for a sustainable and successful social media marketing program.
Strategy: Having some idea of what measurable goals and business outcomes you’re after is essential for planning resources and forecasting outcomes. This is true with any kind of marketing and is certainly the case with social media. A strategy that calls for experimentation with iterative improvement in the context of overall goals, approach, tactics, audience and an effort to measure success is more likely to be implemented and gain support.
Tactics: A mix of tactics needs to tie into the plan for reaching business goals, an understanding of audience preferences and behaviors will lead to the right tactical mix. Some companies take the path of least resistance and go for: Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube and LinkedIn without thinking through tactics. One common question often asked is, “Is a LinkedIn group a better use of time and resources or a Facebook Fan Page?
A marketer might want to ask, “Where do social networking vs. blogging vs. microcontent vs. media sharing fit in the context of our social media goals?” Then do the research and implement a listening program to discover which social networks, media sharing sites or blogging communities the target audience is present and participating in. That work will answer the question about Facebook vs. LinkedIn and any other social communities where customers spend time.
The Process: Working through a strategy, tactics and developing processes leads to efficiencies, scalability and social engagement that is true to the business goals. Process with social media marketing is important for a variety of reasons ranging from quality assurance to accountability. How can an organization scale its social media efforts without some kind of processes in place? Redundant processes can often be automated by software. Processes also outlive internal social media subject matter experts who move on to other opportunities.
Social Commerce: (Social Media that Leads to Sales): What’s the ROI of Social Media? or What’s the ROI of having a phone system in your office? That phone systems facilitates communications for a wide variety of reasons that are important to the functioning of the business from product/service inquiries to hiring new employees to customer service. Social media in a business sense, is technology that facilitates communications, sharing and connecting brands with customers, and for the most part, people buy from those they like and social media helps build, maintain and improve those relationships.
Facebook – The top reasons people press the “Like” button on Facebook is to have a sales relationship with a brand – either to receive promotions & coupons (40%), get updates on upcoming sales (30%) and show their support for companies (39%).
Twitter – For over 40% of the time people are on Twitter, we spend it learning about products and services, listening to what others have to say and giving opinions. That explains why over 20% of the time we’re on Twitter, we’re ready and willing to buy directly off Twitter.
Social Networks – For every hour we spend on online, we spend the most amount of time on social networks, almost 15 minutes of every hour. Roughly half of the time (approx 6+ mins), we are seeking out products and services and looking to have a sales relationship with brands.
Building a flexible strategy that considers business goals and the people to engage will help marketers identify the best mix of tactics for their social media marketing program. Developing processes from a corporate and an individual standpoint will help sustain, not stifle, social engagement activities in the long run. Start by building community and relationships. Listen, respond and create value. Monitor and analyze for opportunities to implement social commerce features, but don’t rush it.
Also read: Social Marketing is importent part of SEO