Effective social media marketing can be used to influence buying decisions at any point in the customer journey. And though new platforms are constantly emerging, there are a handful of universal truths. People enjoy engaging with people, so sound like a person and not a brand. Different platforms attract different audiences. And the best content always wins.
Brands use social media for a variety of reasons: customer service and reputation management, influencer outreach, or just positioning the brand as a subject-matter expert. However, you should be able to trace back your goals to sales, savings, or customer retention. Start your social media marketing campaign with a written plan of how you are going to measure success. Describe your tone of voice so it sounds consistent across all your properties. Identify why certain platforms are a good fit for the brand and which ones are not. Explain how you are going to use each platform, remembering that you want to create the greatest impact with the least amount of content. And last but not least, always have a crisis management plan, just in case.
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Decide whether your platforms are paid, earned, or owned. Places like the blog on your website are owned. A simple definition of earned is something that another person or brand does to surface your content to their audience. In some platforms, like Facebook, the potential audience is so large and the organic reach is so weak that it makes sense to pay for advertising, which can be purchased through Facebook’s exceptional ad targeting tools. Instagram has a large, active community. Other platforms like Pinterest are an effective way to reach a large female audience, but the targeting lacks sophistication, so it only makes sense for national brands. Snapchat users are predominantly young (and harder to reach with traditional advertising), but again, it only makes sense to advertise with them if you’re a national brand because of the cost.
The right platform for your brand will depend on your goals. It’s important to experiment with your cadence and clock—when you post and how often you post. And maintain a content calendar at least three months in advance.
With the amount of time your customers spend on their phone with YouTube, Facebook, and other social media channels, it would be a mistake to ignore social media. And if your social media presence is weak, it’s an opportunity for your competition to steal potential customers while they’re evaluating different brands. Social media is an exceptional branding tool when wielded by an experienced hand—and an opportunity to fail in the hands of the unprepared.