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Strategize your social media marketing

By Maxine McBride

Social media has jumped into the main stream as a viable, cost effective way to market your company. There aresocial media countless workshops, seminars, webinars, white papers and blogs available to learn more about social media platforms.

But before you jump into social media, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Ask yourself these questions:

• Why do you want to be on social media?

• Who exactly are you targeting?

• How will you participate?

• How will you measure success?

• What is your strategy? 

Anyone who has researched marketing through social media has quickly come to realize it is not as straight forward as traditional marketing methods, such as placing an ad in the newspaper or running spots on the radio. Social media marketing is more complex because the audience has an expectation of participation from the advertiser.

Companies can’t simply put up a Facebook Fan Page and watch fans (and sales) roll in without any type of interaction. Social media users expect it to be…social! This means that companies need a clearly defined strategy for how they are going to execute this without wasting company time “tweeting” the day away. Here are the steps to building that strategy:

1. Identify your social media objectives. Is your goal to build brand awareness, increase customer loyalty (also known as improving customer service) or increase sales? Most companies will gravitate towards the latter; however, it is difficult to sell a house or a car via Twitter, so if you have a complex product, focus on brand awareness or customer loyalty.

2. Define what segment of the market you plan to target. You can’t target everyone at the same time. Instead of defining your target market by age, gender, and location, first think in terms of your relationship.

Are you targeting people who know your company or people who have never heard of you? Have they bought from you before? Have they referred your company to others? This will help narrow your objective and message. If you are targeting people who have never heard of your company, then the objective should be to build brand awareness, which is a much different message than if you were targeting people who have been referring friends regularly.

3. Decide your to be ‘human.’ Social media campaigns fall flat when there is no personality behind the message. Social media is a way to interact and build relationships with prospects and customers. If your company is consistently sending out highly edited, corporate messages with no “human” or individual voice behind them, consider the message lost in cyberspace.   

4. Determine how to measure success. Social media success is different than traditional marketing success. In the old days, companies would measure success by how much walk-in traffic they had the day their ad ran in the newspaper. That type of measurement doesn’t transfer to social media.

Thankfully, there are countless ways to measure social media success, and most companies already have the tools in place—Web site analytics. A primary indicator of success is an increase in Web site visits due to social media exposure. When someone hears of your company through social media the logical place to go for more information is your company Web site.

In addition to an increase in Web site traffic, other indicators of social media success include:

• Increase in time spent on company Web site;

• Increase in Web site traffic referrals from other sites;

• Increase in followers, fans, and friends; and

• Increase in mentions of your company on social media Web sites.

After going through this exercise to plan a social media strategy, you should have a clearly defined objective, target market, point-of-contact and means to measure success. For some companies, social media marketing is not the best place to invest their resources, which means those resources are free to be used in other forms of marketing that better reach their target market. Trying new things and taking risks with your marketing is fun, exciting and essential in these highly competitive times. Social media can introduce your company to a new audience and wider group of consumers, but take the time to outline a strategy before jumping in, otherwise your marketing goals could get lost in the shuffle.  

Maxine McBride smallMaxine McBride is the president of Clockwork Marketing Services, Inc. (www.clockworkmarketing.com), a full-service marketing firm. She can be reached at 904-280-7960.


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