Social Media Strategy in Business
Gone are the days of relying solely on television advertisements or billboards to attract and retain consumers. The emergence of social media has changed the way the world communicates with one another, and consequently the way businesses sell to consumers.
Businesses should not be asking themselves IF they should be using social media, but HOW. The time is now to take capitalize on the new opportunities these channels can deliver. Social media has made the world a smaller place, created a global workforce and shattered the sense of distance—giving every business on this planet the opportunity to flourish beyond control.
DEVELOPING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
An organisation’s social media strategy should be driven by its overall marketing and business strategy, taking direction from its vision, core values and business objectives. However, the strategy must be fluid and dynamic, to fit in with social media’s inherently adaptable nature.
“The key pieces to have in place are clear, measureable objectives, a strong value proposition for the audience, an engagement plan and a crisis management plan,” says James Duthie of Next Digital Media Sydney.
A social media strategy should detail not WHAT tools to use, but WHO to target and HOW to target them. “The most important thing to remember when strategizing a social media campaign is to start with the basics, get a feel for where your customers are, how they behave, what are their trigger points, and then modify the strategy,” he explains.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE CHANNELS
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are among the largest and most successful social media channels. These are the catalysts for which to base your social media strategy before moving onto more niche methods.
It’s fair to say that YouTube is one of the pioneering mediums, and still one of the most successful as it is home to over two billion videos. You can upload a video and immediately generate eyes—and these are eyes that have ‘chosen’ to view your content, not forced to view like traditional TV advertising. A YouTube video must engage and entertain or inform—these are the main ingredients to a large number of YouTube hits.
Facebook has captured the market of volume with over 500 million active users. The most crucial part of Facebook is the ‘Like’ feature, which allows a Facebooker to Like a page, or a group. When your business opens up a Facebook Page, it immediately opens it to a potential half a billion customers, who, when ‘liking’ your page, have opted in to hear everything you have to says.
Facebook recently added a “Places” feature, once again raising the bar for itself and competitors. Duthie says, “Location definitely looks to be the next big thing in social media. Facebook’s new tool allows users to integrate their online persona with their offline life by posting their real life movements to their Facebook profile via their mobile phone.”
Twitter has joined the social media playing field as one of its most formidable competitors. Its uniqueness comes from short bursts of text, or Tweets, that are no more than 140 characters long. “With hundreds of millions of people engaging in a global conversation at once, your Tweets are seen when any one of them searches the conversation to listen in to a topic that interests them.
ENGAGE, ENTERTAIN, INTERACT
Subtle engagement is the key to capitalizing on these mediums. “Social media can deliver tangible outcomes such as increased sales, spikes in web traffic, enhanced search engine rankings and more. But those benefits only come from an engaged audience. Thus, each business must find a way to be engaging,” says Duthie.
In short, the key is to remember that you are dealing directly with people. People need a reason to engage with corporations. In most cases, it won’t happen naturally. If that reason doesn’t exist, the social media program is likely to fail.
The most successful businesses have used social media to sell under the radar. Garzberg believes that direct selling is often a reason for your online presence to be attacked because most social media users want to keep it just that—social. So to stay relevant, keep it light and friendly.
OLD SPICE GETS IT RIGHT
Both Garzberg and Duthie believe that Old Spice is one company that has mastered the art of tapping into a new group of consumers without spending millions of dollars.
In July 2010, the male grooming product brand launched the fastest growing online viral video campaign ever, garnering 6.7 million views after 24 hours, when its TV commercial star replied to online comments and questions via personalized videos on YouTube. The three-day campaign increased Old Spice sales by 107 percent the month after it ran.
Old Spice, which has for a long time been considered ‘uncool’ by Gen-Y and Gen-I, transformed itself into a cult hit with its viral clip, ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.’ In conjunction with this short clip, the strategy involved engaging and responding to social media’s largest influencers and became a hit, with almost 19 million views and counting.
Though Old Spice got it right, it may take months before social media buzz can occur. However, being flexible, using the right channels, practicing engagement and a bit of creativity will increase your presence in the social media world.
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