By Jeanna Wood
Remember those days when a brand’s online presence was limited to a website? Or when Facebook “Fan Pages” made its way into the newsfeed? How about when one Twitter user reinvented the pound symbol and created the hashtag? Not only did that revolutionize social media, but it literally became the currency for Instagram users, which has only been around since 2010. It’s hard to believe the evolution that’s taken place in social media over the past decade, and it’s safe to say it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
While most brands started the millennium with traditional marketing plans that included billboards and print ads, it’s likely their marketing plans have shifted to digital media and social engagement. And just like the rest of us, these brands encountered social platforms that did not work for them. Whether it was Myspace, Google+, Vine or platforms that are still thriving today, we’ve all (myself included) messed around on social media sites that have no ROI for the brands we manage. Does your brand need to be on every social network? To put it simply, no…but how do you know which platforms to pursue?
Understand Your Goal & Audience
“It's important to work backwards in most cases when you are building a strategy. Understanding your goal and who you’re talking to is a great starting point,” expressed Dan Melick, director of digital at Three21 Creative, a digital creative marketing agency in Orlando, Florida. By understanding your goal and audience, this will determine what the ROI is and what tactics are needed to deploy success.
Each social network presents itself with a vast array of differences. The audience on one social platform varies from the audience on another, and the way audiences behave on these platforms will also differ. It’s important to, “…figure out where your audience is spending their time, how they behave in that space, and see if an opportunity is there,” Melick pointed out.
Depending on your brand’s goals, it may be time to re-evaluate your brand’s social channels. It was about a year ago when my marketing team decided to pursue Snapchat in hopes to capture a younger demographic. After starting from scratch, in eight months’ time our audience did not grow like we hoped and the engagement was not there. Instead of producing original content for a channel that had very little ROI, we switched gears and allocated monies to develop Instagram Stories where a captive audience was already tuning in. As a result, our audience has grown exponentially and our engagement doubled.
Keep in mind that the content published on one platform may not translate well on the next, which could lead to multiple forms of tailored content to please your social audience. Plus, you’ll want to consider how much it will cost to manage multiple platforms and how they integrate with each other.
Ultimately, when choosing platforms that work best for your brand, ask yourself the following questions: “Is the customer we’re trying to target engaging with that platform? Is their behavior tailored to perform the action we’re hoping to achieve?” By answering those questions truthfully, that will help keep your brand’s vision strong and aligned with what is right for your brand and your audience.
Build a Content Strategy
The process for creating a content strategy starts with audience research, but now that you’ve identified your audience and their behavioral traits, it’s time to shift your focus to building a strategy, “…that engages with them and drives them into your funnels,” emphasized Melick. A strategy that drives traffic is built on determining the best form of content, posting frequency and tailoring the style to your audience.
Have a Clear Content Strategy – Essentially, at its core, your strategy is the “why” behind everything you do. As mentioned above, understanding your goal will help you answer the following question, “Why are you creating content?” Most brands produce content to achieve at least one profitable result i.e. increased revenue, brand awareness, or better educated customers.
Always Put Your Audience at the Center of Your Thinking – You should be willing to use and test different forms of content to better understand what your audience gravitates to. Whether you share blogs, videos or visuals like user generated content, learn the type of content your audience prefers and focus more of your efforts on those things. This also applies to the stories you share. For example, my Facebook audience does not engage with visuals that have to do with surfing, but anything to do with sunrises or beautiful beach imagery, my engagement soars.
Tailor the Execution for Each Platform – Remember how your audience consumes content on each channel. A one-minute video on Instagram, 10-second snaps on Snapchat and a 280-character limit on Twitter are just a few examples of how consuming content varies from channel to channel. By tailoring the execution for each platform, not only are you giving them a better user experience but you’re giving them another reason to follow and engage with you on another channel.
Keep Content Fresh and Relevant – Our audiences are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of content, which makes it harder to keep them engaged. Always be looking to change up your tactics to keep your audience coming back again and again.
Social media is no small undertaking. With advancements taking place daily, your brand has to be willing to accept change, take risks and try new things. Your brand’s social presence could make all the difference in exceeding your goals, so do what’s needed to revamp your social media plan this year.