Companies of most sizes today want to improve the potency of their social media – and with justification: Digital platforms are constantly innovating just how that brands are discovered, shared and experienced. The info speaks for itself: The amount of worldwide social networking users is likely to reach 3.09 billion monthly active users by 2021, and global internet surfers spend some 136 minutes each day surfing internet sites. Many organizations have responded by allocating more resources to digital marketing – technology now makes up about 29% of total marketing expense budgets, according to a recently available Gartner estimate, and digital ad invest 2020 is approximated at about $385 billion.
Yet these numbers certainly are a double-edged sword. Consumers today respond to products, services and ad campaigns in real-time through social media, creating new demands on organizations. Generating and sustaining high degrees of engagement and enthusiasm online requires clarity around the firm’s goals and values.
Successful digital strategies aren’t about aesthetics or style, but a fit between what your brand promises and delivers. To build up your strategy, consider the following questions:
1. What are your targets?
Regarding startups and niche products, your social media strategy can start with the necessity to test ideas, create awareness and build anticipation for new services and products. In other cases, the goals could be a lot more specific – boosting sales, geographic expansion, increasing real-time brand engagement or producing quality sales leads.
Once you’ve placed your targets, identify your metrics for achievement. Searching to gain “likes”? Do you wish to spark an online dialogue around a concern? Or do you wish to inspire behavior change, for instance, encouraging your supporters to recycle? Your metrics must align together with your marketing goals.
The sheer level of available data could make this task challenging. Clearly defined metrics, including a timeline and budget, will ensure that your campaign is usually on track. Not only do goals allow you to clearly measure your progress, they will also give you a clear answer to the next question that you need to ask which is…
2. Which platforms should we be using?
Decision making around platforms must be rooted in an understanding of your customer’s identity and preferences. Different social platforms appeal to different demographics, and you need to do the research to find out where your target audience hangs out online. For example, younger audiences may be more effectively reached on newer platforms, like TikTok or Snapchat. Health and wellness brands, with their emphasis on aesthetics, may want to develop on a more visual strategy, focused on Instagram. The same logic applies to geography – WhatsApp is usually popular in India, whereas if you want to reach people in China, you’d need to focus on WeChat or Weibo.
3. What is usually your content strategy?
Quite often, organizations have the budget, team, agencies, and ideas in place, but they haven’t thought deeply about content. This leaves both revenue and goodwill on the table: One survey revealed that 46% of consumers reported they follow brands because of the inspirational content. You need to understand what types of content – for example, articles, videos, pictures – will drive engagement with your audience. Great content strategies produce conversation and sharing with the brand and amongst other users.
Your content should be unique, useful, and shareable. For example, one of the authors (Deepa) is currently working with ArogyaWorld, a global health nonprofit, on a campaign to help establish some common understanding around “eating right” in India. Inspired by the U.S. government’s MyPlate.gov initiative, we worked with a leading design firm to translate the Indian government’s complex nutritional guidelines into a simple picture for both North and South Indian cuisine, showing cooked quantities and meal plan options for various ages and lifestyles. The graphic will be rolled out on social media and in its Healthy Workplace program that covers 3 million employees.
If your content is sensitive, your content strategy should take that into consideration. For example, Techdivine, a firm owned by one of the authors (Ananthanarayanan), once worked with a client in the mental health industry who was concerned about the lack of engagement on their Facebook page. It quickly became clear that most users weren’t comfortable engaging in this concern on a public platform. We re-oriented the technique to encourage users to speak to the brand through the use of private messaging choices of social media sites. We also created resources that allowed visitors to get answers with their questions safely with expert articles shared via exclusive password access through private chats on social media platforms.
4. Are you set to talk to your audience – instantly?
Social media interactions are two-way – driven by both brands and consumers – which means that your organization must show that it’s listening and engaging with questions, concerns, and suggestions. Companies that seize an instant can generate brand awareness and goodwill. For example, when a Twitter user recently mocked a South African man who proposed in a KFC, the fast-food chain responded by providing the couple with a wedding planner. Many other brands, including Coca-Cola, Woolworths, and Audi, also chipped in to support the couple, showering them with gifts and experiences.
Social media offers brands the opportunity to create memorable experiences. Techdivine, a firm owned by one of the authors (Ananth), once saw a tweet from someone traveling from Manhattan to Chicago for the first time, mentioning that she was looking for something spicy to eat. We looked back at her earlier tweets, which hinted at an interest in arts. So, on behalf of our client, a restaurant based out of Chicago, we welcomed her to the Windy City and even shared links to some interesting art events and activities around the city. We made sure, not to pitch our restaurant prematurely. Curious to know who we were, she thanked us for our tweet and inquired about our restaurant. At this point, we sent her a lovely collage of some popular spicy dishes that the restaurant served, plus a map and a deal she could unlock if she visited the restaurant and tagged the brand by checking in. Obviously, what followed was a visit, not merely from her, but numerous others who saw this conversation online.
Brands today, possess a much bigger ability (and responsibility) to inspire and connect to consumers. Trusted brands will attract business, and social media is certainly a robust tool to develop engagement, gain feedback, and build that trust together with your audience. By answering the above questions, you can make sure that your social strategy aligns together with your goals and adds values for your users.