While nearly 90% of companies are using social media for marketing, the distance between “using” and “succeeding” is of Grand Canyon proportions.
In the early stages of social media marketing maturity, business use of social media tends to go through a series of phases from not doing anything to beginning to monitor social channels to sharing content and building community. Eventually, they find their way to some form of social sales or social commerce.
To jump start the move towards a social media marketing strategy that starts to align with measurable business outcomes, here are 3 ways many companies can optimize their approach to social media.
These are not magic tricks or some secret, hyper advanced tactics no one knows about. They are a few of the things that most companies suck at when it comes down to implementing social media marketing. Stop the suck and start the winning!
1. Buyers & Buyer Influencer Mapping
Understanding who your customers are as well as those who influence them is a function of Discovery, Consumption and Action. Understanding how customers discover content, consume content and what motivates them to take action in a social media context can go a long ways towards planning more effective social media marketing efforts.
Essential questions to answer:
* To what degree are your customers asking questions and engaging on topics within social networks relevant to your products and services?
* Who and what are the influencers on social networks for your customers?
Take those insights and leverage them in your social media content planning so that you are providing information that’s more relevant and useful to buyers as well as content that influencers can use to advance their own objectives. When influencers are motivated to share your content on social networks it helps them, it helps your buyers that follow the influencers and of course, it benefits the brand.
2. Community Building vs. Distribution of Content
One of the most important stages of Social Media Marketing Maturity evolution is the transition from a “me me me” content approach where the brand only shares information about itself to one where active efforts to attract and engage a community are the focus. Or at least more of a focus than simply pushing brand content through social channels.
Distributing brand content through social channels is fine, if:
* It’s actually useful information and not promotional
* The content is packaged in an entertaining way
* Is done in moderation – 50-75% of social content should be useful, 3rd party content and the rest something to do with the brand itself.
Don’t make the mistake of going totally utility in your social media content because people are connecting with your brand to know more about your brand, not just the useful 3rd party content you’re sharing. Just make sure the brand content and messaging you do share is timely, relevant and thoughtful from the audience perspective.
3. Improve Social User Experience – SUX
The low hanging fruit of social media optimization is to make sure the experience of social content discovery, consumption and sharing is easy, enjoyable and satisfying for your community. You can use a mix of tools like smo.knowem.com to audit your site for the social markup needed to give social networks the information they need to best understand your content as well as manual inspection.
Some considerations for a better SUX:
* Do each of your brand’s social channels carry a common aesthetic or theme?
* Does your main website make it easy to find your brand’s social channels?
* When someone reads a blog post, is it easy for them to share the post on their favorite social network?
* How many clicks does it take and does the share window pre-populate with the post title and your brand’s Twitter handle?
* When someone shares your content, do social networks pick the right image?
Many brands take a “set it and forget it” approach to how social sharing and visuals are used across their properties, so make sure a person manually tests them out to ensure finding, reading and sharing your content is as easy and positive as possible.
One of the more useful tools for identifying what areas of opportunity there are with a social media marketing program is an audit.
Social Media Audit Process & Considerations:
* Inventory all social digital assets
* Where is the brand currently leveraging social?
* Who (staff: official and “cowboys”)
* What is current performance? Good and bad.
* What are competitors doing? Opportunities?
* Listening: brand, customers, prospects, employees, executives, competitors
Social Media Content & Activities to Audit:
* Content creation, curation, frequency, quality
* Social media policy – global, regional, departmental
* Technical (microformats, code, responsive)
* Inventory social profiles
* Networks participating, tombstone accounts
* Conversations and engagement
* Sentiment, brand, frequency, topics
* Advocates & dissenters (internal and external)
* Integration between departments – Marketing, PR, HR, Customer Service, Legal, Product
* Internal and operational social media/platform use
When brands active on social networks can break free of the “me me me” syndrome and focus more on creating meaningful and relevant experiences for both buyers and those who influence buyers, they can expect a leap forward in the effectiveness of their social media efforts.
Optimization of marketing performance is everyone’s responsibility that creates content and engages through social channels. The continued pursuit of improvement based on a cycle of planning, implementation, and analysis should be a part of every company’s digital marketing effort whether the emphasis is on social networks, search engines, email or other types of media.
The question is, how are you evaluating your social media marketing performance and are you taking action on those insights?