Vine, Instagram, Jelly, Snapchat…
It seems like every time you turn around, a new social network or social mobile app is taking the world by storm.
This constant evolution of social media is plainly overwhelming, especially to people who aren’t immersed in the industry.
At Strategexe, we regularly talk with people who struggle to pinpoint which social networks they should focus on the most, because they know they can’t and probably shouldn’t be everywhere all the time.
On the other hand, you never want to miss an opportunity to reach out to customers, engage them, and listen.
So, solving the problem of choosing the right social media avenues is crucial. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to make this decision easier and, ultimately, have a more effective social media strategy.
Understanding Your Customer
The primary key to any successful marketing endeavor is truly understanding your customer. This isn’t to be confused with knowing your customer — referring to observable facts like age, gender, location, and other standard demographics.
Genuinely understanding your customer, on the other hand, refers to understanding their deepest motivations.
- What makes your customers tick?
- What gets them out of bed in the morning?
- What problems do they have in life that make them desperately need your product or service?
- Internally, what draws customers to your competitors instead of your business?
- What overarching paradigms do they view the world through?
- How do they approach spending money (much more powerful than simply knowing their income)?
Before you dive into social media…never mind, scratch that…
Before you dive into ANY marketing effort, these are the types of serious questions you need to sit down and dwell upon. How well you understand your customers as human beings — not facts on a piece of paper — will almost definitely make or break you in the long run.
One of the simplest, yet most powerful, ways to pinpoint your ideal customer is to create customer profiles, which are essentially “how-to guides to attract the best customers”. Customer profiles help you visualize your customers, understand your customers’ goals and motivations for purchasing your product, and provide a framework for choosing the best marketing avenues that will help reach your customers.
Learn more about creating customer profiles via Greg Ciotti on Convince & Convert.
Knowing and Understanding Social Media Users
So, now we’ve touched on the difference between knowing and understanding your customers. We can take this information and match it to the right social media channels.
First, let’s take a look at social media demographics…
The table below gives you a brief introduction into the largest social networks that have mainstream uses for businesses.
Using the table, you should be able to match up your customer profiles with the demographics of each network.
You’ll also notice the Key Strengths column. While all the social networks have many great features and benefits, you should do your best to align your goals with the key strengths of each network.
For example, if you have a very visual product that is primarily aimed at consumers, Pinterest and Instagram will almost certainly be big players for you. If your goal is to improve your search engine rankings, properly setting up Google Authorship and being active on Google+ will benefit you the most.
That’s the easy part.
Now let’s take a look at understanding social media users…
People on social media don’t want more ads. They don’t want to be interrupted or broadcasted to. They don’t want to see boring updates that add no value to their lives.
What people do want are more real stories. They want to be asked for permission before you send a message their way. They want to see updates that bring inspiration, motivation, humor, and education to their lives.
If you grasp that, you’re off to a better start than most. Now, what specifically appeals to your target customer on social media is a bit of trial and error based on your customer profiles.
You need to reflect on the aspects of your customers that make them genuinely human — their aspirations, their deepest interests, their core motivations, and their problems. If you can figure out what those are, generating unique content to fill those areas of your customers’ lives will be much easier and, most importantly, very effective.
Developing a Cohesive, Cross-Channel Strategy
After you’ve chosen the social media channels that best suit your target market, it’s time to nail down your cross-channel strategy, because consistenty across all your digital marketing properties is critical to gaining credibility among consumers.
This means the obvious things and the not so obvious things need to be aligned across all your social media platforms:
- Profile pictures
- Profile cover images
- About sections and bios
- Overall appearance in line with website and offline branding
Not So Obvious
- Brand voice
- Constantly listening and replying in a timely manner on all channels
- Updates relevant to the respective social channel (don’t connect Twitter and Facebook, please!)
These are all necessities for a strong cross-channel strategy. However, the most important thing you need to keep consistent across every social media channel is your attitude.
You’re not trying to sell products directly.
Say it with me again: “You’re not trying to sell products directly.”
The notion of directly selling is contradictory to the fundamental building blocks of social networks. Social media is a tool for connecting with other human beings; it’s not a sales tool. It was never intended to be and it probably never will be.
Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to sell thing using social media. What it means is you need to approach social media with an attitude of helping and being useful.
Your customers have problems — they have gaps between where they currently are and where they desire to be. It’s your responsibility to help them close those gaps by providing helpful content and, of course, by supplying a product or service that helps solve a problem.
Don’t sell on social media. Be useful.
Keep Your Head in the Game
Nothing approaches perfection the first time around and building a social media presence is no exception. You might choose a social network where your target customer isn’t very active or open to engagement.
No big deal. Keep an eye on the analytics — that means actually running reports and noting trends, not “eyeballing” the numbers — and keep your head in the game.
Don’t bow out of social media if your first attempt is a flop. There’s definitely a learning curve tied to building a brand presence on social media, attracting the people you want, and keeping their attention long enough to be useful.
Remember: you don’t have to be everywhere all the time, but anywhere you are, you should be helpful and useful.
Not sure where to start or struggling to get your social media presence off the ground? Join us for a FREE Social Media Marketing 101 Seminar on May 21st.
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