I think we can all agree that social media deserves a seat at the marketing table. It’s hard to find any marketing professional these days that won’t claim that social media is critical to brand building, reputation management, relationship building, customer acquisition, customer support, and and even product development.
It’s difficult to find a social media marketing playbook that won’t require significant customization for your company, but we can certainly try to learn from those who have had success. Here are 6 tips to get you started on adding social media to your marketing plan.
1) Always Start by Researching
Let’s start with the basics. When putting together a social media marketing plan, the first thing to understand is where people hangout out that you want to engage with. Here’s a big hint, it’s not just Twitter and Facebook. Your potential customers are socializing online at this very moment across thousands of social networks, forums, private communities, discussion boards, social news sites, video and photo sharing sites, customer review sites, social music sites, and blog comments. You need to do the research to find out what social media sites make the most sense for your marketing plan.
2) Attack Each Social Media Outlet Differently by Listening
Now that you understand all the different types of social media that you may be interested in using for marketing efforts, it’s time to start planning your social media marketing strategy. If you’re planning on posting to Twitter, Facebook, a social news site, and a video sharing site, your content needs to be different for each one. The way you understand what content will resonate with each website’s audience is by listening to what is being said. Using Google Alerts is a great place to start. Other tools like Social Mention, Hootsuite, and Topsy are great ways to listen and learn how to interact in different communities.
3) Be Share Happy
Using social media effectively is all about posting (relevant information) routinely and regularly. As such, your social media marketing plan must include a schedule of when you’re going to post, or at least a commitment to post once a day, twice a day, once a week, etc. Stay consistent in your posts, as you build up an audience, your followers will be expecting new content.
In addition to posting new content regularly, make sure you’re also sharing other people’s content whenever possible. Embed “share” links on all of your blogs, repost others’ content that’s relevant to your brand or goals, and post content that’s interesting enough that your audience will be motivated to share it on their own.
4) Acknowledge Mistakes, Don’t Hide Them
With the online world, mess-ups and “uh oh” moments are bound to happen. Perhaps you meant to type “Announcing a new product today!” but instead (thanks to auto-correct!) wrote, “Announcing a nude project today!” and accidently hit post before making the correction. While the example above might be a little extreme, trust us—goof ups happen more regularly than we’d all like to think. In the event that you make a social media faux pas, don’t panic, and don’t try to delete the post—chances are your followers already saw it, and will be miffed if you attempt to erase it and act as though the event never happened. Instead, you can remedy your errors by posting a status update apologizing for the mistake, offering an explanation if you’d like, and even making a joke about it. The more open and honest you are about your errors, the more likeable and trustworthy you’ll be to your audience.
5) Learn from Successful Social Media Marketing Campaigns
There are multiple companies out there who have mastered using social media for marketing. Two such companies are:
When Dove released their Real Beauty Sketches campaign, their goals were clear: they wanted to create a social impact while simultaneously increasing their goals and sales. As such, Dove created a project, turned into a YouTube video, that went viral nearly instantaneously. The video showed two sketches of each real-life women done by an FBI sketch artist—the first sketch was done using the individual woman’s description, the second by a stranger describing the woman. The results were startling: in every set of sketches, the one detailed by a stranger was more beautiful than the one detailed by the woman herself, emphasizing the idea that “you are more beautiful than you think.” Not only did Dove utilize the right social media platform for this project, but they also created content that was incredibly interesting and engaging to their audience. To date, the video has received 114 million views.
While Dove’s campaign was highly planned, Oreo, during the 2013 Super Bowl, posted a perfectly-timed Tweet that was impulsive and spontaneous. During the 34-minute power outage, Oreo quickly designed a graphic, and posted this to Twitter: Power Out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark. In seconds, the Tweet received thousands of retweets and Facebook shares. The point: take advantage of perfect moment like Oreo did, and be clever, unique, and relevant in your posts.
6) Measure Your Success
As your social media campaign start to gain traction, refer back to the goals you set at the beginning and see where you’re at. Maybe you’re focused on how many followers you have, how many likes you’ve received, the number of visitors to your blog, subscribers on your YouTube channel, or new customers. Whatever it is, always look at your numbers regularly and make necessary adjustments to optimize your metrics and further your social media marketing success.
What tips do you have for adding social media to your marketing plan? I’d love to hear about them…