-written by Charlotta Thorbjörnson, contributing blogger on Teaching.Social
Some years ago I had a conversation with a CEO and business owner, who wanted me to assist him with the launch of a product range in a new country. He had a clear opinion about the marketing communication and wanted to apply his current approach for this market as well. Knowing he had never used social media before, I asked him why he would not consider it this time. Especially, as the market was new and no one had ever heard about these products before. He answered, “I know my customers; they do not use social media, we will continue advertising for our online shop in regularly magazines, that has worked in the past”. He continued, “there are no other products similar to ours. I do not have the resources in my company to keep track of social media, and besides that, what do I do with the results?”.
At that time, I had too little knowledge about social media to refute his view. But at heart, I knew there was more to social media.
When I asked friends, who I knew used social media to run own small businesses in B2C markets, I got rather common statements like, “I have a Facebook page with a decent number of followers. I post opening hours and tell my customers about new products in the store or an upcoming event, I think that works fine and once in a while I get some likes”. It seemed like they had applied analogue thinking into digital media and were missing the point of really listening and taking advantage of the possibility to engage and interact with their customers – like in a two-way relationship.
At this point I decided to educate myself about social media.
Today I would have been much better off in a similar conversation with a CEO: “Ok, you know your target audience, but what about potential customers that you are not aware of? What if they are not reading paper magazines? Just because you know your product, it does not mean that customers, influencers and even competitors perceive your product the same way as you, or the way you want them to perceive it. What if your product is used in a different context and would give ideas for product improvements or even new products? What would the cost be for missing out such opportunities?”.
Research, Listen, Analyze
In terms of target audience, I would suggest the CEO to consider demographical, physiographical, geographical and behavioral aspects in order to segment customers and develop customer personas. There are many tools available on the internet to help you do this.
It is commonly known that consumers are no longer passive recipients of marketing messages. Instead, they are highly interactive and want to share their thoughts with other consumers and even influence the businesses. Groundswell and COBRAs (consumers’ online brand-related activities) helps to categorize the different motivators consumers have for social media use. Companies which use this to their advantage are the ones which excel. They listen carefully and use social networks to monitor trends, and get ideas for new products. Would you really want to miss out on that?
Besides doing research on your target audience, it is as important to research your industry and analyze both influencers and competitors. Using social media influencers in your marketing is a way to build relationships with existing and new customers. An influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your business may not be able to. Thus, it is worthwhile connect with them to understand what is going on within the industry and what really matters to customers. What is their sentiment? You’d want to identify the most important keywords to be able to continuously keep track of ongoing conversations, become an active listener or even participate in these communities.
Based on this research you formulate your goals and objectives (make sure to formulate them SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
The result of that, along with a strong message, makes up a solid social media strategy. Adding the tools for organizing, listening and analyzing enables you to keep track of ROI and cost effectively build, master and advance your social media presence.
For me it is no longer a question if a business should be participating in social media. It is more a question if it understands to maximize its full potential to reach their set goals and objectives and enable the business to grow.
What is your strongest argument for using social media? Or do you still need to be convinced? Please comment or share your thoughts with us here or on twitter @TeachingSM You can also follow Teaching.Social on LinkedIn
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