Social Media Transcends Traditional Marketing

Social media is quite different than traditional marketing. It’s intent isn’t to drive sales – at least not directly – but instead to build awareness, drive engagement, develop loyal brand ambassadors and serve as a key facet to your integrated marketing plan.

You’re probably thinking: What’s the point then? If it’s not going to have a direct impact on my sales numbers, why bother?

The answer to that is simple: It’s your foundation. It’s expected. NOT having an active social media presence for your business – whether B2C or, perhaps even more important, B2B – is like conducting a conference call with a bag phone. It’s risky at best.

Social media is here to stay. It’s not a fad. It’s not a gimmick. It can drive true marketing and business results. It’s time to understand how your company can take advantage of this amazing marketing tool.

Social media is about brand awareness and engagement.

Before we tackle how to develop your social media marketing, we need to first talk about its purpose. It’s not like traditional marketing. Instead, the intent of social media is to drive brand awareness, improve engagement with your brand and support your other traditional marketing efforts.

The idea is to build connections and relationships with your audience in a way traditional marketing doesn’t – and can’t – allow. This is a much more personal marketing avenue. So, take advantage of that.

Use it to showcase your company’s personality – to humanize your brand.

It all starts with strategy.

Now that we’ve talked about the purpose of social media, we can turn to strategy. This is one of the primary things we talk about with our clients: The importance of having a well-thought-out social media strategy that:

1) Supports and complements your marketing strategy.
2) Supports and complements your business strategy.

Without a strategy that aligns with both your marketing and business strategies, social media simply becomes a marketing tactic. And that’s a waste of time, effort and resources for everyone – and will not deliver the intended results.

So, what should your strategy include? Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Define your company – simply and succinctly.
  • Include your company’s mission and vision.
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • If you had to define your key message in one sentence, what would it be?
  • Define your strengths and weaknesses.
  • List your key competitors.
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are you trying to accomplish with your overarching marketing strategy?
  • What is your brand’s personality?
  • What are your company’s brand attributes?

We have our clients walk through both a brand personality and brand attribute exercise to define who they are and who they aren’t, and which attributes best describe their company’s personality, which is key to ensure style and tone are on point for the brand.

This is always a fun – and typically eye-opening – exercise, where the leadership team often finds themselves thinking the exact opposite on certain attributes and personality traits. If your leadership team isn’t in agreement, there’s no point in proceeding with any marketing efforts because there’d be no way to define expectations or meet those expectations given everyone’s starting on different pages.

Narrow your focus.

Once you have your strategy defined – and everyone on your leadership team is in agreement – it’s time to narrow your focus.

Determining your social media marketing campaigns for the year – at a high level – will help define your topics, messaging and goals for that time period. We work with clients whose industry changes quarterly to focus on different topics – and we develop different campaign topics for each. Conversely, we work with some clients whose message stays the same for the entire year.

You’ll need to decide what makes the most sense for your business and industry – based on what you’re wanting to communicate to your potential and current clients and customers, taking into account:

  • What the campaign is working to achieve (e.g., educate about x, y and z.)?
  • What your audience is asked to do (e.g., visit the blog, call a phone number, etc.)?
  • Who’s your primary audience?
  • What are the key points/messages and supporting messages you want to convey?
  • What are the dates of the campaign, and are their peak times to take into account? (This becomes paramount when planning an event, for example.)
  • What will your primary, secondary and tertiary social platforms be (e.g., Instagram = Primary; Facebook = Secondary, Twitter = Tertiary)?
  • What assets will be used during the campaign?

Craft your editorial calendar.

Now that you’ve defined your campaign(s), it’s time to crack open the laptop, pull out that tablet or charge up your phone to start crafting that calendar! The content should reflect the specific campaign for the timeframe, following the key and supporting messages you defined, as well as the calls to action.

We recommend creating content one month at a time; so you can see the full view of how your channels look for the entire month. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your posts are different by channel. One of the worst things you can do as a business is post the exact same caption and image on multiple platforms. Each platform has its own culture and expectations:
    • LinkedIn – Good for B2B; more formal/business-like; no emojis; a few hashtags are encouraged
    • Facebook – Works for B2B and B2C; casual; occasional emojis ok; hashtags few and far between
    • Instagram – Great for B2B and B2C; super casual; fun; emojis and hashtags expected
    • Pinterest – Great for companies with a visual product (e.g., retail, furniture, artists, realty, food, etc.); fun; interesting; visual

It is okay to post the same topic on multiple platforms – just make sure you change up the caption and the image.

  • The image is more important than the content. Yes, you heard that right (said the former writer by trade). The image is what’s going to capture your audience’s attention first. If it’s not engaging…<scroll>…and they’ll never even get to the content.
  • Create nine non-product/sales-related posts to one product-sales-related post. This may seem counterintuitive at first – given it’s so different than traditional marketing, but this is a best practice. Share tangentially related posts. For example, if you’re in the furniture business, don’t just show a picture of a couch; show a picture of living room that’s designed in a way that inspires and gets the viewer thinking: I want my living room to look like that! Why? Because while social media isn’t about selling, it can be a natural by-product. In this instance, the viewer may choose to click on your shop button to see how much that couch sells for as they start researching how to recreate that awesome room.

Execute your posts, and monitor your community.

With your content calendar in hand, you can easily use a third-party scheduling app to schedule your posts in advance, and then supplement them as things arrive either posting natively (within the social app itself) or within the third-party app.

Take time each day to review your feed on each platform, and engage with or respond to your audience. This helps drive that connection and engagement, and shows them you care enough to like, share or comment on their posts.

How much engagement is enough? There’s no magic number, but interacting with at least 50 posts a day is a good rule of thumb.

Should you have customers or clients reaching out with questions or concerns, make sure you have a process in place for addressing those. Best practices are to respond publicly to the comment, and ask them to contact you directly (non-publicly). Then, make sure you have an escalation process in place for customer service to be able to address the concern and alleviate it.

Once the question has been answered or the concern addressed and alleviated, often times the person will post a follow-up positive comment to their original comment, demonstrating your responsiveness and willingness to help them – turning a potential negative into a positive.

But we’re not finished yet.

So you have your social media strategy, campaign(s) and content calendar, and you’re engaging with your community, but all of that is for naught if you’re not keeping an eye on which content is working well and if your key performance indicators (KPIs) are trending in the right direction.

Now it’s time for analytics. Using your specific social media channel apps, you can capture tons of analytics that will help you understand how well you’re doing on engagement rate (the most important KPI), impressions/views and followers.

Speaking of followers, it’s better to have 100 super-engaged followers than 10,000 unengaged and uninterested followers. You need the right followers. It doesn’t do any good to have followers who aren’t engaged or loyal to your brand. The intent is to attract followers who are interested in and value the content you’re sharing, and who will engage with that content (like, share or comment).

One other thing to note regarding followers: Often times, a company’s geographic limitations and/or niche market may mean they have a finite number of people who even would follow them. For example, a company that markets in only two states or one that sells high-end luxury homes will not be marketing – on social media or any other marketing avenue – nationwide. This limits your pool of followers from the get-go – and that’s okay.

So, rather than focusing on how many followers you have, focus on how engaged they are instead.

What about timing of the reporting?

We recommend developing a quarterly reporting schedule. Social media is fickle. And squishy. And not concrete like traditional marketing tools. This means it’s important to look at trends, not get hung up on the monthly numbers.

By pulling your KPIs quarterly, you’re able to focus on those trends to see if you’re heading in the right direction. A standard fluctuation of 5% up or down is essentially ‘static’ and normal. If you start to see drastic drops (e.g., 20% or more), it’s time to start questioning why.

Look into your specific posts to see which ones are performing well, and reassess your content calendar to develop more of those posts. Research the specific channel to see if there were any algorithm modifications or other changes that may be impacting your results.

Social media is often trial and error to see what your audience responds to, what they like, what posts are going to resonate more with them to increase engagement. Don’t be afraid to experiment. See what works for your company – and your audience.

But always remember to have fun – and to be social! After all, that’s the whole point of this medium: To demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership, educate people about your products and services in a fun, engaging way, and above all, showcase your brand’s personality!

Want to learn more?

Stealth conducts onsite training sessions and hands-on workshops to help companies and groups better understand social media. Reach out to us today to get more info.

And, if you’d like a team of experts to help you develop your social media strategy and develop/execute your content, help with community management and provide quarterly reporting/analysis, we’re always ready and willing to help! Contact us today to learn more.