A common social media pitfall is to expect that simply creating a digital “community” is all it takes to connect with stakeholders.
The reality is that if you’re not properly identifying and engaging your brand’s influencers, your messaging (and “community”) will get lost in social media noise. As the 2009 Marketing Industry Trends Study recently noted, the adoption of social media is well past critical mass. Nearly two-thirds of brand marketers are implementing social media marketing, so the clutter will only intensify.
For some time now, savvy marketers have been relying on social media to connect with key audiences on a personal level. As more marketers, brands and consumers engage via social media channels, however, organizations that execute a targeted strategy to identify and influence key audiences will have a leg up on building one-on-one relationships.
Whether you’re just beginning to form your organization’s social media strategy team or already in the middle of executing a program, here are some ideas on how your brand can harness the power of social media to build influence and preference.
Listen to shape your messaging platform
Use a combination of paid and free monitoring tools to find out where conversations are originating organically and tap in to those networks. Engage influencers in conversation to forge a relationship and accept their honest feedback when they give it. Think of your brand’s social network as a research panel and use content generated from your online “focus group” to craft messaging to reach other influencers.
Integrate social media channels into overall communications strategy
The days of dabbling with one-off social media campaigns used in isolation are over. Integration of social media tools into an overall communications strategy is paramount to make an impact (and to achieve business and communications goals). Synchronize the messaging of your ads, news releases and promotional materials with online content to increase your reach and frequency.
Strategically target influencers
Unlike purchasing a database to execute a direct mail campaign, there’s no list of social media users who might be most receptive to connecting with your brand. Proper targeting of influencers who can have the most positive impact takes an investment of time and resources. But, the payoff is that an influencer who shares a great experience with your brand can have a meaningful viral effect in the social media sphere.
Empower staff to be your social voice
Social media guidelines are essential to help staff understand their role as brand ambassadors on social networking sites. In addition, companies such as Best Buy and Zappos are strengthening customer experiences by empowering hundreds of employees to handle online customer service and company promotions via Twitter.
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