By this time, most everyone in the business world accepts social media as a necessary part of the marketing mix, whether a large part or small. What many marketers, business owners, and brands admit is still an issue is the best way for their company to achieve social media success.
Obviously social media success will be different for every company depending on their audience (ie. B2B or B2C companies), their goals, and their strategy.
The first step in being able to define your company’s social media success is defining your goals. Overall social media goals should commonly include a combination of the following:
If you have created a page on every social media account simply because you’ve been told you should; however, have not set any concrete goals, and have not identified who/where your audience is online – you will not be successful. Period.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume that you have already clearly identified the items above regarding your audience and goals. The next most important part of social media is obviously what exactly your going to post and how exactly you’re going to interact with each platform. Here is where the key to your social media success comes in… CONTENT. MARKETING.
Content marketing is a combination of sharing original content that you have created (blog posts, white papers, e-books, etc.) and curated content created by someone else that is interesting, valuable, and attractive to your current and potential customers on various channels. It revolves around educating and entertaining your audience with articles, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc. that relate to your overall industry/brand.
In order to use a content marketing plan effectively, you must know your current and potential customers like the back of your hand. The following are some questions you should ask yourself and find the answer to before you try to market content to these people:
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can carefully craft and find content that suits your audience. Once you know what questions a potential or current customer would have regarding your industry, brand, product or service, or what aspects of your industry or product interest them, you will know how to satisfy their interests and where.
For example, let’s say you are the owner of a plastic surgery center and your social media goals include increasing traffic to your website/blog and converting those leads to clients. You have identified your target client as a woman between the ages of 18-50 in the Orange county area that has attended college, makes at least $100k per year, subscribes to a number of beauty or plastic surgery blogs.
Your potential clients, most likely concerned with preparation, after-care, recovery time, costs associated with your products or services, etc. are most likely not going to be browsing LinkedIn to find this information. However, perhaps someone in this target market browsing the “health and fitness” or “hair and beauty” sections of Pinterest would be interested in the “10 Things You MUST Know Before Your Rhinoplasty” infographic that leads to your website. From that point, you will want to have a proper inbound marketing process in place to move the lead down the funnel into a customer.
Without valuable content, there is no social media success.
If your social media plan involves only speaking about your brand, perhaps some coupons, and trying to ask questions to an audience that is not engaged with your community, you will be very disappointed by the result.
Content is the vehicle you must use to connect with your audience. Sharing content created by you or your company will show thought leadership, expertise and legitimacy. Sharing content created by a third party that is relevant to your audience as well shows a genuine desire to add value to the lives of your consumers, and can even build a mutually beneficial relationship with the original author of the content.
Without creating a proper content marketing strategy as discussed above, your social media will be ineffective – thus, you will not achieve social media success for your company. By answering questions and satisfying desires of your customers through content, you are building a valuable relationship with them that gives you the chance to turn them into a customer, and hopefully a brand advocate.
Not to beat a dead horse, but if you have clearly defined your goals and crafted a strategy that speaks to the needs of the customer, you will easily be able to see your social media success. “Likes”, “Follows”, and “Comments” are great indicators of crowd engagement; however CTRs, downloads, and purchases will be much better indicators of your social media success.
Using the same example of the plastic surgeon above: if you identified your goal as bringing in two new clients for rhinoplasty procedures per month, you created original content and shared third party content that educated and interested your target audience regarding rhinoplasty, and you followed an inbound marketing process to nurture the leads, the measurement of your social media success is simple. Did you get two new clients that you can attribute to your social media efforts? If so, then your social media efforts were successful.
A CMS (content management system) like Hubspot is useful in this process, as it allows you to see key ROI indicators of your social media success, and attribute leads and customers to the original channel that brought them to your website.
Yes, obviously you can create social accounts on various platforms, get some interaction with people, and say that your company “does” social media. Although, if you want social media success that translates to specific ROI, dollars, customers, and benefits, you need to make use of relevant content on your channels and market that content.
What do you think? Do you think social media success exists without the use of content and content marketing?