It used to be said that every business needed a website, but these days, businesses need a social media presence as well. Unfortunately, although there are many rewards for businesses that use social media effectively, there are just as many pitfalls. A smart social media strategy avoids those pitfalls and can be as or more effective than traditional marketing techniques.
Know Your Audience
Using social media effectively for a company or organization is essentially a matter of marketing, and this means knowing who you are marketing to. To some extent, you already know. For example, a company that offers private student loans needs to market itself to potential college students and possibly their parents. These students are likely to be ambitious but not independently wealthy since they are seeking money for college. They might be looking for an easy application process or favorable interest rates. Big data allows companies to collect more information than ever before about potential clients and customers and better understand their needs. With this information, your business can create a social media strategy that most effectively conveys your message to the right audience.
Choose the Right Platforms
There are many different social media platforms, and newer ones are constantly coming along and jockeying for influence. Part of knowing your audience is knowing which platform or platforms are best for reaching them. Different demographics use different platforms, and each platform has different conventions around its use. These conventions may be subtle and unspoken, so it’s important to understand a platform before establishing a presence there.
Know Your Strategy
A few principles of social media marketing are consistent across industries. For example, people tend to want to feel like they are establishing a relationship with a company. However, how that relationship is established varies based on the product. A snowboarding company might want to present itself as adventurous and brash while a fine dining establishment may want to focus on carefully-presented photographs of its food. The aforementioned private student loan company would want to convey an air of trust and responsibility. An important element of this strategy is planning how to deal with unhappy clients and customers. Brands should generally avoid being combative with customers, but they should consider how they will respond to those who have issues with their product or service. Most of the time, good customer service can resolve any problems, but companies may want a policy that addresses how to handle the posting of abusive or misleading information.
Offering good content remains a cornerstone of a strong social media marketing strategy. The snowboarding company might provide tips on winter wear while the private lender might offer financial tips and the restaurant could provide a recipe or two. Content can also consist of special offers for subscribers or followers, such as discounts or first opportunities to get sales prices. This is where data on customers comes in handy again, and customers are often eager to provide it themselves to companies they trust to use it to their benefit.