Social media often shows the very best and the very worst of humanity. The best in how people and communities come together to show solidarity in the face of adversity. The worst because some channels can give a virtually unfettered platform to anybody who signs up.
Twitter itself has become synonymous with a president who uses the channel to spout some of the most outrageous opinions ever to come out of the most powerful political office on the planet.
Whatever your opinion of social media, there’s absolutely no doubt that using it in the right ways can be an incredibly effective and fun form of marketing that attracts and nurtures a higher volume of quality leads.
We’re talking about inbound marketing; a bespoke process that can help brands to better target the most relevant audiences to complement their long-term growth strategies.
That’s where a lot of people fall down though; that instantaneous access to a market on social media confuses more people than you’d think. They use it like their own personal platform, disregarding a professional tone in an effort to come across as cool and edgy. Depending on the brand, their goals and the message they want to promote there may not necessarily be much wrong with that approach.
The social media management industry, though, is absolutely littered with horror stories of brand misuse; from intoxicated managers forgetting to log out of their professional accounts to others just getting the creative totally wrong. AT&T using the 9/11 terror attacks as a social sales opportunity is one that particularly stands out as especially tasteless.
Getting the message right when social media marketing
Social media management doesn’t have to be stiff. The best campaigns are fun and have huge elements of creativity within them to better engage and interact with new audiences. What we’re saying is that one person’s idea of having fun may be a word away of somebody else’s; researching your audience, creating personas and evolving alongside them is a crucial part of the social media management process and essential to long-term social success.
Social media is fast becoming the first port of call for users to interact with brands, whether they want to pay them a compliment or vent their frustrations about a recent experience they’ve had. Being blasé, offensive or ‘ironic’ won’t do, and a deep strategy that answers people’s concerns and resolves conflicts as soon as is possible is brilliant for overall word of mouth.
Social media management is more than ‘sitting on Facebook and Twitter all day’. It’s about creating effective content to interact, raising brand awareness, nurturing leads, building relationships and being part of an effective overall inbound marketing strategy designed to attract the most relevant leads and target the right people.
As a standalone tactic, brands can begin to use social media marketing now to begin talking to people. Social alone though can only do so much; complementing your social media management strategy with some budget can unlock the enormous benefits of paid social targeting, giving you access to the incredibly deep targeting tools offered by platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others to spread your creative message to the people who matter to you most.
Planning ahead with social media marketing
Believe it or not, social media management is one of the most delicate processes of the inbound marketing processes. You’re effectively serving yourself and your brand up to the public on a plate, where every single word is scrutinised and cross-referenced on a daily basis.
The likelihood of something going wrong can be lessened by implementing some simple social media rules, and while nobody’s perfect and accidents happen, being prepared, consistent and keeping on top of your strategy will help see a reduction in errors.
We’re firm believers that engagement is the most important part of social media management. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. The best campaigns are a two-way street; listening to people and interacting with them.
That engagement will also increase the chances of people seeing and interacting with more of your content; again, if they share it amongst their friends and family it represents the absolute best bits of word of mouth marketing.
If you’re too general in your social media management efforts though you could be doing little more than wasting valuable time that could be better spent on interacting with the audiences that really matter to you.
Millennials for instance are an incredibly social-savvy generation. Their attention spans are notoriously short thanks to the amount of messages that are aimed at them every day. Learning as much as you can about your market and creating the right personas to attract them is key to social success.
Is influencer marketing right for you?
As effective as combining social media management with tactics such as content marketing and paid services are, there are other creative strategies that brands can consider to get in front of their target audience and offer something more inventive and original than their competitors. Influencer marketing has almost become an industry within itself, with brands partnering with rising and already-established stars on various social channels to enhance their message.
Even as effective as influencer marketing is though, it still may not be the right fit for your brand, especially if the creative’s a bit wide of the mark (Freddy Adu with a vacuum cleaner, anyone?).
Micro-influencer marketing pairs your brand with influencers with a smaller number of followers, for instance, but who are more concentrated and likely to engage with you. The micro-influencer approach could also be more cost-effective than working with a mainstream influencer. Also, no matter how intricate your social media management strategy may be, you can’t legislate for an influencer on the other end of the line messing things in an incredibly public manner.
A well thought-out social marketing campaign can also be a highly effective way to get bums off seats and attract people to physical locations if the creative is effective and targeted amongst the right people. Brands that regularly network, attend and host events can encourage more of the right leads to meet and engage with you on a physical level (we find Twitter’s especially useful for event promotion and management).
Focus on a few channels instead of all of them
In fact, Twitter can be useful for a lot of social media management tasks, but despite having the Pope amongst its millions of users it isn’t the be-all and end-all.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons why so many brands get social media wrong. Each channel is different and has its own pros and cons. Some think that it’s necessary to have a social presence across every single channel. That’s simply not the case.
That can not only overstretch the social media management process but doesn’t allow marketers to fully research and optimise the platforms that work best for them. Tweets with images average approximately 150% more retweets than tweets without. If you were to spend more time being creative with your imagery on Twitter instead of focusing your efforts on Google+ to an audience that simply isn’t there then you could be getting better returns from your social spend.
That may not matter if your audience isn’t even on Twitter. Where are they, then? That’s where personas are so important, and that can even extend to researching the language your market is using to communicate online. Emojis, anyone?
Good social media management strategies not only identify the people they want to engage with but also take the time to plan ahead and get creative during seasonal periods and special events such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Like all things in the world of inbound marketing, social media management is constantly changing. Companies buy each other out, new targeting and marketing software is constantly evolving, platforms have their controversies and new ones are cropping up all the time. Who knows the next place your audience will find itself, ready to interact with you and your brand.