Most marketers understand the potential power and reach a social media marketing strategy can offer a brand, but struggle to devise and execute their strategies effectively. Often, we find ourselves so distracted by all the available channels, social noise, and conflicting (often unsolicited) opinions of self-proclaimed “gurus” that we wind up paralyzed by choice, unable to tell what’s right for our brands.
Having been through a social media marketing transformation, I know how difficult the process can be. Here’s a quick guide to the top challenges brands face in rebuilding their social strategies, and what you can do to fix them.
Sometimes, the hardest part of rebuilding a social strategy is recognizing that you’re putting effort into an ineffective channel. How do you know if you’re using the wrong channels? For me, it started as a nagging in my gut telling me that something was off. Once I picked up on that feeling, I started paying attention. I quickly realized my instinct was being proven correct day after day and week after week—I just had to look at the numbers.
What it all comes down to is ROI for your efforts. It’s okay if you can’t yet measure actual ROI (meaning, you can’t determine the revenue received directly from your social efforts) as long as you’re measuring something. If after adjusting your strategy and putting in the required effort, time, and money into a social channel, it’s still not driving the engagement or traffic it should, there’s a good chance it’s the wrong channel—and it’s time to meet your audience where they’ll really respond.
It’s okay to experiment with social media marketing, as long as you’re measuring your results. If your numbers say a channel is ineffective, it’s time to move your resources somewhere better.
This challenge is where expertise and experience come into play. Trying new tactics and working to define your brand’s voice on social media is an important part of the learning process. You can look for guidance from others who have been there, but the fact is, no two brands are the same. From your mission and goals to where your audience is located, there are seemingly endless factors that can determine the best channels to use, and how to use them. In a recent article entitled “Global social media research summary 2016,” SmartInsights proved just that.
As your social strategy progresses, you’ll start to figure out what works and what doesn’t. When you’re paying attention, you’ll see what resonates with your customers and what tends to fall flat. You’ll even come up with new ideas that no one has tried—some of them will work and some won’t. That’s cool. Failure is necessary in social media marketing. Just don’t repeat your mistakes.
Each social channel has a slightly different focus, which is why there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. So when you’re working to figure out which channels can help your brand the most, you’ll want to start by considering what each one does.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the top social platforms:
There are hundreds of social channels, tools, and networking platforms available to brands today. Search Google Play or the Apple Store for “Social Media Apps” and you’ll find a list that will make your thumbs bleed before you get to the end of it. The options are overwhelming—and the number of them that will only serve to drain your resources is too high to count. And because each app plays its own unique role in a social media strategy, it’s easy for brands to see all those choices and commit to a presence on too many of them.
If you’re among the largest global brands, and you have dedicated teams creating content and messaging around the clock, you may be able to participate in many dozens of channels effectively. But small brands (and even medium to large brands with limited teams and resources) have to be smart in deciding which platforms they’ll choose.
Before spreading your brand too thin, start your strategy with these three important questions:
Even the most experienced senior leaders seem to focus on social as a “push” channel for marketing purposes. They want to know what type of messaging will go viral, and they’re solely focused on push messaging. That can be a huge mistake, as more and more consumers view social media as a way to interact directly with a brand, rather than a way for brands to reach (or talk at) them.
No matter what your chosen social channels are, interaction with your users and followers should be part of your strategy. Engage with them: comment on their feedback to you (both positive and negative), Like the content they share that relates to you, interact with them on a regular basis, and be social. Don’t just use social media as yet another way to let customers hear you. Make sure you hear them, too.
Creating content at scale is a huge challenge. Sure, you can reuse certain messaging and content across platforms, but you have to be really smart about it. There are two key ways to be smart about adapting your content to your social platform:
You’re actively publishing on social media, and that’s a great first step. But are you treating it like a dedicated content publishing platform, or are you just winging it?
The fact is that social media is the new “ground game” for marketers, and winning at it takes patience, time, and investment. You have to be in it for the long haul—because the purpose of a social media strategy is not just to build audience, but to engage and eventually convert that audience into happy and loyal customers.
Billions upon billions of messages are posted on social channels every single day. Most of those messages have absolutely nothing to do with your brand, but there are a handful of them that you should be listening to and even acting upon.
How do you filter out the noise around your brand and allow your marketing teams to focus on what matters most? One of the best ways is by deploying a social listening tool. Social listening tools can be programmed to scour the web for content and sentiment trends that you need to know about.
Here’s a list of 46 social listening tools to get you started. The bottom line is to pick a tool and try it out. Anything is better than nothing when it comes to social listening!
When you’re at a dinner party or networking event, do you talk about yourself nonstop, or do you compliment your friends, ask them about their lives, congratulate them on their achievements, and say positive things about them to others?
Probably the latter, right? The same goes for social media. One of the best things you can do in your social strategy is to find and partner with complementary brands and share, like, and comment on their content.
This is a really popular and natural practice in the healthcare field, and one that other industries could possibly learn from. For example, I work for a healthcare organization that includes the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, FL. There’s almost a kinship among childrens’ hospitals because of our common goal of healing children—which is a pretty powerful thing to witness. To that end, on our social channels, we share heartfelt stories, milestones, and other wins (and losses) from around the country. It’s difficult to deny the energy that can be generated when organizations work together toward common goals online—our example alone is proof of that.
What challenges have you faced with your social media strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.