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Creating a Successful Social Media Strategy

Social media is a powerful player in the internet marketing game: it helps a brand reach out and connect with their customers on a level beyond paid advertising and sales pitches. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are a direct gateway into the minds of consumers, particularly the younger set, allowing marketers to gather information on habits and preferences. Unfortunately, social media can be a double-edged sword: bungled social posts can spell disaster and lasting brand damage. The key is to find the sweet spot; that perfect combination of interesting, engaging posts and subtle advertising of products and promotions that addresses all types of users and keeps them coming back. So how do you design a killer social media plan? Keep these things in mind:
Understand your audience. Step one is fairly expected: who are you trying to sell to? Is there a specific age, gender, or geographic location? If yes, this will understandable influence your voice. 
Understand where your audience is. In the buying cycle, that is. Think for a moment about how you shop and browse online: if you don’t really need to buy new clothes and you’re just looking through your feed, you probably would only stop on your favorite brand’s page if they had a particularly alluring promo or sale, or an interesting article to check out. You may casually look through their site, but not be in the mindset to commit to a purchase just yet. Compare this to if you know you need to buy a new outfit (you’d be looking for posts about new stock or style guides) or if you’d already purchased something (you may need info on customer service or just want to show off your new outfit!)
Tailor your messages to your audience. A common mistake in social media marketing is to tailor all ads to potential prospects. This alienates those in other stages of the buying cycle. Try to mix it up, getting other departments in your company involved to post or make suggestions occasionally: maybe post an answer to a common customer service question, or a product review.
But always…Keep it real. These days, consumers like to feel a connection with the brand and have their voices heard. So don’t shy away from encouraging feedback: for example, if you had a clothing store, your campaign could be something like #shareyoursummerstyle, allowing customers to post pictures of themselves wearing your clothes. To take it further, if you share those tagged customer photos and posts on the brand page, it starts a cycle and gets customers engaged. Everyone likes to be retweeted or have their posts shared! If you’ve got a large company with many branches, consider having separate social accounts for each branch so that you can keep posts local and relevant for each specific audience.
In a lot of ways, social media marketing requires some trial and error: it may take a while for your brand voice to really click into place. Just keep your eye on the customer, what they’re going through and what they want to hear and you’ll be off to a great start! 

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