Social media isn’t rocket science, but it does demand that you change the way that you think about interacting with your customers and prospects. Too many companies still approach their social media strategies in much the same way as they do other forms of traditional media.
However, the real-time and conversational nature of social media means that marketers need to change some of their assumptions and philosophies to make the most of this new marketing channel. Here are a few misconceptions around social media to be aware of as you roll out your social media strategy:
They won’t come just because you built it
Customers didn’t flock to your website 10 years ago just because you built it. Likewise, they will not follow you on Twitter or ‘like’ you on Facebook just because you’re there. To gather momentum, you will need to market your social media presence, provide valuable content and be ready to have real conversations with your customers. Your customers are facing more and more social media clutter, so be sure to offer them real value if you want to get and keep their attention.
You’re not in complete control of the channel
Once you get involved in social media as a marketer, you must be ready to listen as well as talk. Customers are not always going to tell you things that you like to hear. You must be ready to be transparent and responsive, even when you are dealing with vocally unhappy customers.
Once you push a message out on social media, you need to be ready to enter into dialogues with your customers. They are no longer as passive and anonymous as they seemed to be in traditional mass media advertising. They will have their say, whether you like it or not.
No channel is an island
Too many companies treat social media as a separate channel of its own, but it really should be aligned with your above-the-line, below-the-line and PR activities. Messaging from social media must be consistent with your brand and with the rest of your marketing campaigns.
You should be using social media to drive people to your website, but you should also be using your other marketing channels to drive customers to your social networking presence. We don’t often see South African companies publicise their Facebook or Twitter presences in their offline campaigns – a real waste of opportunity.
Social media can’t be left only to junior employees
Many companies think that social media is a function for junior staff members. While you can entrust someone junior to monitor social networking, many of the issues that will arise in social networking channels will demand the attention of a senior manager.
That means that there needs to be a well thought out communications strategy, where senior management need to support all social media initiatives across the business. There also needs to be a dedicated resource acting as an internal social media champion.
Neglect content at your own risk
You may think it’s not hard to post some content to Facebook and Twitter, but you will be surprised at how difficult it is to produce fresh and engaging material as well as to provide warm and human replies to questions and complaints from your customers. Generic answers and automated replies will cause people to unfollow you straightaway.
Because social media is real time, you need someone monitoring the platforms on a daily basis, ready to respond when consumers take the initiative to engage with you. Content is what matters. To keep the consumer’s attention you need to offer valuable content and incentives in order to keep them coming back for more.
If you use social media to communicate with your customers in an open, honest and personal way, it will strengthen your company’s presence online and builds trust and loyalty. Innovation, strategy, integration and incentives are also key factors to bear in mind when embarking on social media marketing. When all else fails, keep it simple. Consumers lives are busy and complicated as it is, so social media should offer a welcome break from the norm.
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