In today’s business environment, maintaining an effective digital presence is paramount in generating awareness, attracting and converting new customers, and diligently serving your current customers. While creating an exceptional website is often central to your digital strategy, developing a dynamic and engaging social presence can enhance your digital efforts and leverage a wider audience in the marketing funnel. However, before you rush to the computer and open accounts on every social network on the web, it is important to understand which networks will best meet your needs and reach the audience you are aiming to serve. Your target customers may utilize many different social networks, but that does not mean that you have to have a profile on every new network that opens. You should focus on the platforms that best allow you to deliver quality content and solutions to your target consumer, even if that means forgoing the latest and greatest platform. While this may seem like a daunting task, there are several steps you can take to make this process go more smoothly.
1. Know Your Audience
As with any marketing effort, it is important to first understand who you are trying to reach. If you have not already, you need to determine your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey they take on the way to purchase. Beyond the demographics of your audience, you need to understand their habits in and around digital content and social media. Which platforms do they use the most? The least? Are they likely to take the time to read a white paper, or would they prefer a “How To” video? Do they start their research on social media, or do they start with organic search? Take a look at the referrals to your website, which social networks are delivering the most leads? How often did those leads convert? Understanding the buyer journey will not only shape your content creation, but how and when you choose to deliver it. It is also important to remember at which point you will be reaching them in the sales funnel. Twitter may be a valuable network for attracting consumer attention to your latest blog post about advances in your industry, while LinkedIn may be the proper channel for delivering more product-centric information to the appropriate client contact. Once you know who you are talking to and how they want to be reached, it is time to find channels that help you wow your future customers.
2. Research the Platforms
Knowledge is power, and knowing what your options are in the social sphere is key in determining where you should develop your digital presence. The big three, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are a great place to start, but there are other platforms that may fit your business better. Take the time to understand what each platform offers its users, and how your content will be delivered and consumed. It is also important to understand the user base of each platform and what they come to that network for. LinkedIn is generally viewed as a professional tool, while Instagram tends to be a more lifestyle focused. Be sure to evaluate the content you plan to share and determine where it falls in solving a consumer’s problem and where they are likely to search for answers. Similarly, make sure you understand how users discover profiles and content within the platform. Does the platform have an easily navigable search function, or does discovery rely heavily on referral by other users? Are hashtags commonly used for discovery, or do users search with keywords like a search engine? Knowing how content is discovered on the platform will help determine whether your customer base is likely to use it (as determined by your audience research) and how to optimize your content for discovery. It is also important to research who the majority users of each platform are. Understanding your target audience’s web habits will provide you with insights on how your targets utilize social, but insights into the demographic and psychographic makeup of the communities on each platform will help determine which platforms provide the greatest reach and access to the untapped audience you are hoping to impact. Understanding the user base will allow you to not only decide if a platform is a good fit for your organization, but also help you develop targeted content for the stage in the buyer’s journey that users are likely to be in. Other major considerations in your platform research should include the shelf life of content on the platform (Twitter for example is much shorter than Pinterest), the impact of and demand for paid support of content, and cross channel integrations such as Twitter and Google’s agreement that allows Tweets to appear in organic Google search results. Each of these facets can have an impact on the effectiveness of your content within the platform’s ecosystem.
3. Determine Your Content Strengths
One last important consideration is what kind of content are you going to deliver to your audience. This determination relies not only on your organization’s core competency and target audience, but also what resources you have or will be able to obtain. One of the most important considerations in content marketing is that quality always trumps quantity. You may pump out a blog post every day, or 30 tweets, or 100 images on Instagram, but if they are of poor quality, your content will push consumers away instead of drawing them in. If you cannot develop quality content in a particular medium, do not utilize that medium. For instance, in 2016 video content was the buzz among many marketers, a trend that is expected to continue in 2017. This may lead you to believe that you should open a YouTube channel to post videos. However, if you do not have the skill set or budget to create quality videos that deliver value to the viewer, then video may not be the right fit for your organization at this time. Additionally, if the content that meets the needs of your target along their buyer journey does not lend itself to a particular format, for instance, ephemeral content like that on Snapchat, then platforms that are designed to showcase that format should not be the focus of your time and effort. Your goal on social media should always be to deliver value to your audience in exchange for their attention. If you take up their time and attention without delivering value, they are likely to tune you out and ignore you.
It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of social media and the many platforms that are used every day. It is tempting to be everywhere at once to drive the most attention to your organization. However, as countless marketing experts have said, you shouldn’t be marketing to everyone, which means you should focus on the platforms that mean the most to your specific buyer and assist you in delivering value to them. Know your audience, know you options, and know your organizations strengths and value proposition. Keeping these three things in mind will help you maximize the impact of your social media presence on your overall business objectives.
Have more questions on creating an effective social media presence? Feel free to reach out!