Working in the digital space for years now, I have seen a tremendous paradigm shift for how marketers leverage social media. The list of channels a marketer needs to take is ever increasing, including YouTube, Blogs, directories, community forums, and Social Media platforms. Despite the industry, clientele, or audience your company wishes to attract and engage with, you need to be apart of the social media world; and yes, I appreciate it is a love hate relationship. Adoption, engagement and frequency will help your company see an ROI from social media, like many companies already have. To help with these items, I thought I would start with the basics: The three W's - Why, What, and Where.
Why have, or create a social media strategy? Simply put, your audience is there, and the usage is daily. In a recent Maclean's article it claimed 2 out 3 Canadians use social media. In the same article, professor Aimée Morrison who researches digital culture was quoted saying “It’s becoming a mainstream part of how we get the business of life accomplished and you’re at a disadvantage increasingly if you don’t do it”. The article also states 63% of social media members are on daily. If we think back even 10 years ago and I told you that you could get in front of your preferred audience everyday, well firstly you may not have believed me, but secondly most marketers would have been thrilled at the opportunity. Thus, provided that membership continues to rise, as well as fequentency in usage, the why is easily understood. Moreover, social media can provide third party testimonials, increase sales, and enhance brand awareness at a lower cost than other traditional media outlets. To top it off, most of your employees are already using it.
Once you're convinced of the endless list of benefits, now the question is: What do you do? Once your company has created social media handles and pages for the company, you need to understand what you are going to do on the platforms. What can include: photos, surveys, information, events, webinars, call to actions, conversations...etc. Content is the hard part, and the more niche or unique your industry or brand the harder it is to find and create content. However, an easy way to understand what to write or provide your audience is to start following your audience, who are the influencers, what posts are liked by your audience, and what type gets shared and or spurs conversations greater than others. The goal is to provide value, whereas you pull in an audience, rather than pushing a message. So..what are your clients looking for? What would be valuable for them? For example, if you sell cleaning supplies maybe offer a quick how to, or if you are in consulting, offer some advice that is important or trending. For myself, I started by reading relevant posts and watching videos, and sharing those and commenting, while taking note on the fact that I like bullet points, number lists and shorter posts than long ones. And, this is now what I wish to achieve for others.
Where do we now use this content or material? According to Social Media Examiner, "97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use." This is a common frustration for those working on strategy and will be an issue so long as new channels and platforms are constantly introduced. As for today’s options, the major platforms do appeal to certain demographics and each offers an optimal mode to display a message. For a further list of statistics, this article highlights the figures, specifically related to the Canadian market: http://canadiansinternet.com/2015-canadian-social-media-usage-statistics. I frequently tell clients, more social media platforms the merrier, but if you are going to use more than one channel, ensure that your posts are scheduled at different times, to maximize reach. For example, LinkedIn users are on more often between 8am-9am and 5-6pm, whereas Twitter and Facebook usage peaks at lunchtime during weekdays and weekends. Using a program like Hoot suite can help mange the several platforms in one dashboard while allowing you to schedule posts in advance. Outside of using that platforms ensure that your handles and links to your company pages are included in work signatures and advertised in your other marketing efforts. Good Luck.
Two in three Canadian use social media
2015 Canadian Social Media Usage Statistics