Without a doubt we all know social media. 19 Million Malaysians access Facebook monthly so it’s safe to say that Malaysians “get” social media. But do we know Social Media Marketing?
What do you think of when you hear Social Media Marketing? Fans, engagement, likes, comments, shares, viral content, trending hashtags, etc. What do these jargon really mean for a brand or a business?
The purpose of this article is show the complexities behind Social Media Marketing.
It starts with understanding the landscape, which includes knowing how social media platforms function and what is available for us to play around with. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.. all these platforms are ever changing. New features are being introduced everyday such as new post formats or new filters for the stories, a new algorithm, a new news feed just for videos, etc. A social media specialist is expected to know all the latest developments in this ever-changing social media landscape.
Next is understanding the audience. How do we get to know them? Do we stalk them? Yes, to some extent, we do. In order to understand the audience, we need to know what they are doing on our playground and what they are talking about. So we listen in on their conversations online… not all of it, just the ones that pertain to our brands. We also need to check out our competition, what other brands are doing and saying on the playground and how the audiences are responding to this. There are a variety of social listening tools combined with social analytics tools that helps us attain this data. Yet, deriving actionable insights from this data is something that requires careful analysis.
Now in order to provide context to the insights that we have gathered, we need to know what the business objectives of our clients/brands are. All businesses want to increase revenue/sales, that’s for certain. However, what are the different ways that they are looking at to achieve higher revenue? Are they introducing a new product, are they looking to increase their market share, or are they looking to retain their existing customers and get them to buy more and buy more often? Not all content will directly increase your sales and revenue but will attribute toward it as long as we ensure that the right messaging goes out to the right people at the right moment.
Each piece of content and messaging needs to serve a purpose, and every piece of content that is posted needs to connect to tell a bigger story – the brand story. Storytelling has a lot of elements, but let’s just take an example of a Hero’s Journey. A Hero is an ordinary person in the beginning of the story, until there’s a call for adventure. The Hero embarks on this adventure and has to go through challenges along the way. On his journey he meets allies and enemies, then once he surpasses his ordeals as a victor, he is a changed person, changed for the better until the next adventure calls. This and many other storytelling formulas can be used to tell a brand story across different social media platforms.
In the meanwhile we shouldn’t forget about the user and his journey with the brand. From the time a user realizes a particular need, to the time when the user experiences the product, brands should accompany them and be the ally in their journey. This allows for users to build affinity toward the brand which results in one of the most powerful things social media marketing can do for a brand – positive word of mouth. The end goal here is to drive this affinity all the way to advocacy.
Now all this sounds very dreamy, so let’s add in some social media reality into it. The social sphere is a sea of sameness. In order to be an ally in a user’s journey on social media, brands needs to grab their attention by creating thumb stopping content that break through the clutter. This is where innovation comes into play. Thumb stopping content is a mix of right form of tech and creative innovation; correct messaging that reflects the insights and adds value and finally guides the users with next steps.
The aim here is not just get the reader’s attention, but to provide relevant content that gets them to engage with the brand. In social media, interactions have a compounding effect. Which means that the more the users interact with a piece of content, the more the content becomes visible to MORE users. When a user shares a piece of content, it is duplicated and starts building its own interactions away from the first piece and takes on the viral effect.
We should however, not underestimate the power of a comment. When a user comments on a brand post, they are initiating a one-on-one interaction with the brand, giving them an opportunity to build a relationship with them. Just like in real life, it takes time to build relationships on social media and you can’t expect someone to become your brand advocate right away. You will need to get them emotionally vested in the brand so they authentically start talking positively about your brand to their peers.
This is not the only place where a brand can start a conversation though. By listening in on conversations everywhere, brands can identify opportunities where they are able to add value to the conversation. Once you’ve initiated this interest in the users, you then need to clearly let them know what you want them to do next. What is your Call to Action?
And this processes continues. In order to measure the success of the social strategy and content that has been created, appropriate metrics should be measured. If website visits is what you are looking for, you shouldn’t be counting fans. Instead include a proper call to action with your messaging and a trackable link that will help you measure the visits to the website. Brands need to find a synergy between data and insights, the creative and messaging, and measurements of success.
With proper stories crafted on ongoing conversations, the understanding of user journeys along with clear call to action and appropriate metrics measured, brands would be on their way to achieving their business objectives.
In summary, social media marketing isn’t about collecting fans and pushing them every piece of content that might also be available on your website or brochure. It also isn’t about just pretty pictures. It is about being able to craft a story along with your consumers that reflects what your brand stands for.
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