The unbelievably vast social space offers an opportunity, especially for companies that want to engage with the savvy, information-devouring, new age customers. Empowered folks now don’t pull any punches to approve or disapprove brands on a plethora of virtual conversation platforms—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and stuff like that. So, it’s not one for the books when ATKearney’s connected consumer study revealed that globally 46% of respondents spend most of their time online on social networks; or the GlobalWebIndex (Quarter 4 report, 2014) said that the average time per day users devote to social networking stands at 1.72 hours.
When joining social networks, toeing the customers' line is the best option
Marketers have woken up to this reality and as social media marketing industry report 2014 by Social Media Examiner informs, 97% of them have landed on the scene. But, are they truly hunting down the core benefits in the social media jungle? Only opening accounts on multiple platforms following the footsteps of competitors or creating a fan base doesn’t guarantee a torrent of potential returns. For that to happen, first companies must have a clear knowledge about where their target audience is active. Then select one or more channels astutely and proceed with a solid social strategy.
Joining the right channel matters the most
The theory is simple—go there, where your existing or would-be customers are. Signing up on the biggest or the flavor of the season network makes no sense if the people you are aiming for are missing there. After locating the preferred social hangouts of your target audience, keep your eyes peeled for the content they are warm to. In doing so, don’t forget to be mindful of the nuances of individual channels. And as a last piece of advice, if you see a new channel has the promise of becoming the next 800-pound social gorilla, don’t shy away from exploring it; likewise if a channel falls short of delivering expected results, pension it off.
Now, let’s compare some leading social networking sites based on your priorities to find out whether they are just what the doctor ordered.
- Facebook : Though Facebook is not the favorite place for many youngsters to open up, still by overall numbers it is the dominant network. According to social media update 2014 by the Pew Research Center, in the US, 71% of all adults online use it. On a global scale, 81% of Internet users are on Facebook reports GlobalWebIndex. So, the reach is huge and if an awesome community presence is what you need, then Facebook will not disappoint you.
- Pinterest : This platform serves those well who work with a lot of visuals. According to GlobalWebIndex, Pinterest is evidently the winner among major outlets by registering 97% growth in terms of number of active users in the fourth quarter last year. Also, the bulk of Pinterest users are women. So, if you want to interact through images and your focus is on women customers, this is where you should be.
- LinkedIn : LinkedIn is actually a niche network, particularly popular among college graduates and professionals of various fields for building job related connections. So, if you are from the B2B domain or do something in human resource, then join the LinkedIn community.
- Instagram : This is at par with Pinterest. So, if you think an image is the best medium to convey your message, then definitely try out Instagram.
- Twitter : Twitter is all about capturing moments in 140 characters. So, if you want to provide your customers with topical updates that are short and timely in nature, then look no further than Twitter.
Success comes riding on a finely crafted social media strategy
From higher conversion rates to improved search engine rankings to driving up brand loyalty, leveraging social media is advantageous for firms in many ways. But it all comes down to a comprehensive social media strategy in the end. We have already touched upon choosing the right channels which is a part of the larger game plan. Here are some other factors that will determine the fate of your social outing.
- Dovetailing social media strategy with broader enterprise goals : You will not step into the social networking universe just to see how many retweets your posts get on Twitter or the number of likes you garner on Facebook. For you, the big deal is to ensure perfect alignment between your social media initiatives and goals that the company is targeting as a whole.
- Clearly defined roles : Managing the entire social media show is a serious work and for that you need competent persons and a set of relevant tools. So, delegate responsibility to employees who have the required expertise and can transform enterprise goals into reality by exploiting these platforms.
- As always, content is king : Good content is what attracts your potential customers towards you. Whether you create it on your own or deploy content curation tools, it must be exciting and useful to them. They will turn their noses up at content that is produced for the sake of posting.
- Keep yourself in the picture about rivals’ moves : Closely watch what your competitors are doing on social media. How they are driving traffic, what type of information they are sharing, what keyword patterns they are laying emphasis on and so on. Then decide on your tack that can put you in a different league.
- Thorough analytics is essential : Take resort to analytics and check periodically how well your social media strategy is performing. If needed, make adjustments to let the process get a second wind.