The evolution of the customer needs and behaviors has had a major impact on social media, transforming it from a siloed activity into an essential element of marketing planning and strategizing. Customers are on social, and they require your attention in various forms and intensities. To stay on top of this, all marketers should have a scalable social strategy plan in place.
As marketing is becoming more social, social is, in fact, becoming more personal. As the environment shifts, marketers are increasingly driven to reach large groups of people, while users want a personalized approach and respond best to one-to-one interactions. For this, your brand must obtain a superior knowledge of the audience. How can you take the information being spread on different channels and networks and turn it into a coherent social media strategy? Here are the building blocks you should consider:
Step 1: Discover
Your first step in creating a social media strategy is to understand your audience’s pain points and where they are in the customer journey. These stages are accelerated on social, where users complete most of the research themselves or defer to friends, family or acquaintances for advice. As Google puts it, every day people on social engage in “Want-to-know” moments, “Want-to-go” moments, “Want-to-do” moments, “Want-to-buy” moments and “Want-to-share” moments. These are all loaded with intent, context and immediacy, determining decisions and shaping preferences.
How can you stay on top of these moments and make sure you have a good chance of reaching your audience at the right time? The typical consumer journey starts with awareness of the product. However, with the fast succession of the moments of awareness, consideration, decision and purchase, marketers are not willing to wait anymore for a consumer to find them. Now they have the tools to find these people, and influence the first instances of awareness. By combining a powerful listen tool and tailor-made queries, businesses can discover and analyze relevant conversations in real-time across channels.
A socially-savvy company should consider building relationships with influential people in your area, in order to amplify your message and bring more credibility to the mix. At this stage you should start by identifying the right people to talk to, who can convey your message in the best way and enhance your brand’s purpose.
What to do? Start with at least 5 different listen projects – monitor the social activities happening around your brand, your category, different partners, competitors and potential influencers.
Step 2: Attract
Now that you’ve identified relevant groups of people for your business, how can you get them to notice you? You must consider creating content that is both functional, meaning it addresses the pain points of the audience, but is interesting and entertaining, as well.
You should also consider distribution. Sure, you have your content, but is it in the right format, for the right channel where your intended audience can be found? Think of different ways of repurposing content and constantly test their findings, in order to determine what works best for each network. Keep in mind that your social audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or other networks you might consider, can be very different and react to types of content and messages. At this stage you should also consider activating your employees through Social Selling and Employee Advocacy. The power of their networks can help quickly escalate your content and increase the chances of being seen by the right potential customers.
Once your areas of success have been identified, you should not hesitate to back your efforts with promoted posts or targeted ads, and boost your reach. Attracting the right kind of exposure for your brand is vital for securing new buyers, increasing your sales, finding new fans for your business.
What to do? Consider repurposing your blog in different ways – maybe an image, a Slideshare presentation, or why not a vlog? Just keep in mind what resonates most with your audience – and don’t be afraid to boost the truly valuable pieces of content with some ad spend to increase your exposure.
Step 3: Engage
Whether you’ve just discovered interested potential customers through your monitoring efforts, or you are talking to fans and customers, this is the step where personalization can indeed be felt. Now is the chance for your brand to create one-to-one relationships, by becoming more human in the eyes of the consumers. Opportunities to engage with audiences can come from all the other steps of your strategy, again influenced by the fast transition in micro-moments in the customers buyer’s cycle.
Engagement doesn’t only happen on social – your fans might interact through social comments or DMs, but some can still prefer an email or even a phone call. When creating a social media plan, one must be mindful of all these points of contact and allow for a seamless integration of both online and offline efforts, in order to create a superior customer experience. Remember to also get creative and surprise your customers if you see the opportunity:
— Dave Seah (@daveseah) October 1, 2014
What to do? Be where your customers are – strive to answer all their comments and direct messages, and show you are willing to go the extra mile.
Step 4: Connect
The last step in your strategy should focus on connecting all the relevant information you have about your customers and their interactions with your brands into one customer social profile. Imagine you could have access to all this information in real-time the next time to interact with that fan. You would be able to have a more relevant and personalized conversation, directed specifically at their needs. You would also be able to have a complete understanding of their behavior on social, and see the individual in a more meaningful context as a buyer.
Social media is the best channel to accomplish this. Having the right content at the right moment encourages you to act in that moment – and create better targeted campaigns and real-time offers across all touchpoints. Brands will be able to be more relevant to their customers, and connect with customers, while increasing satisfaction and loyalty.
What to do? Consider and analyze different ways to connect your customer information. Additionally, you can analyze conversations to understand what topics are most relevant, and resonate best based on the customer information you have.
The audience has the last word
Depending on the importance of social in your organization, these four steps will find themselves in different scales in your overall marketing strategy. The key to successful customer interactions is now moving beyond social, to include a variety of touchpoints that have an influence on the overall customer experience and customer lifetime value.
Ultimately, no matter how much of the social strategy is written in the marketing department, your customers are the ones that decide if your efforts match their expectations…and they will be quick to let you know if you fall short of the mark.