We’re constantly bombarded from so many different social media channels, it’s hard to keep up. It’s easy to think that as a business you need to be visible on all of them, but do you?
Social Media is largely seen as being ‘free’ given that anyone can set up an account on Twitter, Facebook etc. and it is free, so why wouldn’t you do it? This ignores the wider cost of the time it takes you to post updates, manage the conversation and deciding whether it's truly applicable to your audience.
If you want to talk to your customers, let your customers talk to you, and dare we say it, listen in to what they are saying about you, you need to be where they are. But what do you need to consider before setting out?
Why are you doing it?
Too often the reasons aren’t overly well thought out and run along the lines of:
- ‘Other people do it’
- ‘It’s free’
- ‘Everyone tells us we should’
- ‘I don’t want to miss out’
Looking back at the approach we all took with traditional advertising mediums, Press, TV, etc, you could take out an advert with that obscure local publication because it’s cheap, but you didn’t, because it won’t be seen by your customers.
Social Media isn’t any different, so why treat it as such? Consider how will it help you achieve your business objectives and if your business needs a Social Media presence.
If you do decide you need a Social Media presence, you need to think about who is the final user you are trying to have a conversation with, and where can you find them.
This all leads on to….
Which should you use?
We tend to group all the different channels under the same umbrella but they're not the same. There are some key variations when we start to look at the different demographics of the users – important when deciding which to use.
By far the biggest social media platform in the world is Facebook, with over 1.3bn active users. However the younger generation are leaving, with the 55+ age bracket their fastest growing audience. If your target market fits into that age bracket then great, but if you have a more teenage fan base you might want to look elsewhere – for example Snapchat or Twitter.
It’s not just age that can influence your choice of platform. We’ve seen more and more brands appearing on Pinterest, but did you know that 80% of users are female? And whilst Facebook is very popular, is it the most suitable platform for Business to Business communication? Would the better decision be to have a presence on LinkedIn?
The key is to know your audience and where they hang out. Focus your resources solely on the channels where you know they’ll be.
What are their expectations?
Once you have an understanding on which Channels you should be using, you need to understand the expectations of your customers – what do they actually want from you?
Do they want:
- Thought leadership – provide insight and prove to me that you are the very best in your field
- Inspiration – make me want to achieve better
- Laughter – I just want you to put a smile on my face
What you must always keep in mind is that Social Media is a conversation, not a broadcast. How do we maintain the relationship with those that engage with us? We are seeing more and more people turning to Social Media as a means to complain. Indeed some companies set up Twitter accounts for that very reason and have a team to monitor them at all times (e.g EDF - @edfenergycs)
By working with these engaged users, whether their first contact is positive, negative or indifferent, we can make them into our own brand advocates so they promote our brand themselves.
How will I manage them?
One of the most common mistakes made when it comes to Social Media is the lack of planning for how the account(s) will be managed on a daily basis. It’s not enough to just set up the account and sit back, Social Media is a beast that you need to constantly feed otherwise you will quickly disengage the very people you are trying to attract.
Your customers will have an expectation of how often and what they expect to see from you – ensure you have clear plans and resources in place to keep your posts fresh and relevant.
As mentioned above, more and more people are taking to Social Media to complain, you need to ensure there are clear responsibilities and processes to make sure these are addressed in a timely way. People expect an almost instant response, rather than the more protracted nature of the traditional letter.
You may have read this far and thought ‘blimey, I think I’ll stay away from all Social Media’. Please don’t! Used in the right way, Social Media has the ability to add real value to the customer experience, and ultimately the bottom line of your business. Its proven to work. The real secret to success with Social Media is having the confidence in your understanding of your customer to know which platforms to say ‘no’ to. And which to exploit. Doing one or two correctly will have a much greater impact than doing four of five badly.
Decide on your message first – the delivery method and channel comes second.