By Brittany Leake
So you have a social media marketing strategy. So what? Just because you have a strategy doesn’t mean it’s effective. My grandpa has a social media marketing strategy, which involves successfully logging into his Facebook account and updating his status each and every day to “Still kicking” with a link to an advertisement for pickles. Effective marketing strategy? Potentially – if he had the fan base of Chuck Berry rather than an impressive following of 22 (all of whom are family members).
To be successful, no social media effort can be treated as an island. Anyone can sign up for a Facebook account or create a LinkedIn profile, but it doesn’t mean anyone’s paying attention – including you. Implementing a social media strategy into your marketing plan requires effort. But more than that, it requires empathy. The question is – how do you get there?
The first step in any conversation is listening. Does this surprise you? Many – actually most of us – think that the first step is talking. This is why most of us lose the majority of our audience before we even complete a sentence. Successful marketers also understand that they are customer service agents – we provide the forum for communication, then open it up to our customers as a safe place to tell us what they like – and what they don’t like.
What are your customers telling you? We all like getting feedback – when it’s positive. We don’t only notice this kind of feedback first, we tend to seek it out because selfishly it’s what we want to hear. What happens when we hear from a customer who is unhappy, or even worse, angry? We often run from and ignore this type of communication. In actuality, this communication is probably the most valuable. Your customers are taking the time to tell you what they want to see from you and how you can do better. They are giving you ideas on how to improve your business and products.
So now that you have identified what your customer is saying, how do you respond? Social media involves socializing. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – what would you want to hear from your favorite brand? The message you send out shapes your image and can transform it overnight – good or bad. Imagine sitting at a table and having a conversation with your customer – what are you telling them? When you engage your audience as a tangible person rather than an obscure corporation, the quality of the conversation will change entirely.
This may be the most important component of a successful social media marketing strategy. Once you have engaged your audience and communicated a plan of action, the next step is following through with it. If you tell a customer that you are going to do something – do it. It’s easy to speak words, but taking the feedback you’ve received, disseminating it through the proper channels and producing results is the effort your customers need to see. By turning your words into action, you will position yourself as a credible and trustworthy brand.
Implementing a successful social media marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight. Each stage of the process relies upon the last and is a continual, ongoing process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are meaningful customer relationships. By taking these steps, and dispersing them throughout your social media channels, you can achieve optimal results and become a brand that others will look to emulate.