Here at SearchUp, we don’t really ‘do’ social media marketing in the none paid for sense, i.e. buying advertising, but we know that a lot of our clients use social as part of their comms strategy for lead generation, social selling or a subset of customer services. So we thought it would be useful to highlight the steps one would go through to develop the background for creating a social media strategy. To caveat; each business will have its own nuances and the steps we highlight below are very much an outline. This is the first part in a two-part series, and, for this part, we’ll be setting the scene.
What is social media marketing?
Let’s answer this question first and we think The Digital Marketing Institute gives the best definition:
“Social Media Marketing is the process of gaining traffic, attention and interaction with customers through social media to drive direct or indirect sales.”
So, in essence, it is the process of interacting with people on social media. This process allows a company or brand to interact with current or potential customers.
Before starting any marketing there needs to be a goal in mind (or dare we say a strategy). These goals could be selling more, offering better customer services or increasing your digital visibility to build your brand. For many companies it’s all of these things but, of course, the approach will be nuanced by the nature of the business.
The three main outcomes of a social media marketing strategy are threefold.
- Online Sales
- Offline Sales
- Indirect Sales
If we look at online sales we can see the objective of many businesses is to drive sales. This is true in both a B2B and a B2C context. But offline sales can also be influenced by social media marketing. The most obvious analogy to draw on here would be to look at coffee-shop with a large social media following who are running an event. Sales can also be driven indirectly by forming an ‘influencing’ aspect of social media — this could be especially true in a fashion context. Clothes seen to be worn by a figure with influence will indirectly create demand and therefore sales. This metric will be harder to measure but is important at the ‘research and influence’ part of the buying cycle.
Not all social media is created equally
Social can be split roughly into three distinct facets. These are earned, owned and paid. Though the social media platform is the same i.e. Facebook the way you and your customers interact with your brand will be different. In the case of earned, this will be mentions of your brand from customers i.e. re-tweets, page likes, followers, re-tweets etc.
For owned, in a social media sense, this will be your brands’ page or presence. In a wider digital context, this will be assets you own i.e. your website and your blog. Paid, is as you would expect, advertising via the platform in question i.e. Facebook or Twitter advertising.
A couple of common misconceptions about social media is that it’s free and anyone can do it. What you should do is install a clear owner of the project and resource that person properly. In order to succeed the project owner will need to:-
- Create high-quality content – articles, graphics and maybe video
- Market research – insights into the target market and competitors
- Advertising – for this they’ll need some budget
- Report and measure – for this piece they’ll need a good understanding of analytics packages to inform their decisions
The interaction evolution
The last twenty years have seen a revolution in marketing communications not seen since the advent of television and, in fact, is probably more profound. Each consumer now has a ‘voice’ in the palm of their hand and, an immediate dialogue with your customers can now take place. This digital revolution has also made today’s consumers (especially the coveted 18-24 year old demographic) extremely hard to reach with a nuanced, holistic and multi-channel approach.
In our next post, we’ll be exploring the quality of interaction levels, social listening tools, content strategies and analyis.