Social media offers brands a set of inexpensive tools that can quickly get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and rapid word of mouth and, properly managed, can deliver measurable results.
You can use content marketing to create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products.
Use a two-pronged approach to creating awareness and driving interest and sales
To do this successfully, you need to take advantage of both a top down and a bottom up approach to social media.
- Your top down strategy is to create broad awareness and credibility among experts and consumers
- Your bottom up goal is to drive consumer awareness and engagement through grassroots and in-market activities
How to spark and drive sustainable conversation and recommendation
Here’s how to spark and drive sustainable conversation and recommendation through social media:
- LISTEN: Track and identify key trends, stories, posts and influencers
- DEVELOP: Build content that makes it easier for consumers to share and recommend your brand
- ENGAGE: Work together with consumer influencers to drive discussion, posts, reviews, give feedback, conduct contests and share recommendations with others
- OPTIMIZE: Ensure both new and existing content is tagged to make brand discussions easily searchable and sharable
- PROTECT: Establish a protocol for responding to negative word-of-mouth and mitigating damage from competitors and brand detractors
- MEASURE: Build-in metric that demonstrate the impact of engagement at each point in the Conversation Engine
The most important step in building your social media foundation is creating a “sharable story”
A shareable story is basically an elevator pitch story with messaging that connects your key points together in everyday, natural language.
The sharable story shapes all engagement to ensure the story you want to tell is infused into all of your conversations.
Become the leading expert, resource, authority and trusted partner in your space
Next, you need to engage leading industry eminents across all relevant vertical channels. Find and engage those individuals who can influence people to consider your category and become interested in your brand.
Screen influencers using rigorous criteria to ensure identifying only the leaders:
Remember, these influencers are going to give you credibility so focus on engaging the right online influencers.
Track & identify key trends, stories, posts and influencers
Through either subscription-based tools or through publicly available free tools, develop a daily monitoring routine to identify opportunities, influencers, and key trends.
Create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products
Now you are ready to activate your online social media channels. You want to create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products.
Consider doing this in stages so you don’t overwhelm your team or confuse consumers by creating online content but not having the time or energy to keep it fresh and current. A possible phased approach is to launch on Facebook and Twitter initially.
Once you have Facebook and Twitter up and running smoothly, and the team is comfortable managing and posting content, it’s time to expand to additional channels like Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Google+, etc.
These channels allow you to broaden your content and create additional content that your created and control to help further enrich the consumer education process and provide opportunities to link into your customer websites with rich content.
Your goal is to drive fans and followers with these two sites. Remember, these sites require you to engage regularly. That means you need to manage and moderate daily, especially since you will quickly find consumers using these sites to post customer service, quality or warranty issues.
Don’t worry if there are negative comments. Ultimately your goal is to bury these comments under an avalanche of helpful tips and advice on where and how to buy your brand. It’s this kind of news that will ultimately shape your brand conversations.
Focus on building assets that make the benefits of owning your brand shareable and portable
This will allow you to leverage the full capabilities of online multimedia sharing sites to maximize visibility and reach.
- Create checklists for occasions or life events that should include your brand
- Build video demonstrations and distribute to YouTube and beyond through services such as TubeMogul
- Build photo libraries that illustrate specific benefits of safe ownership and distribute to publicly indexed networks like Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram
- Encourage consumer-generated testimonials (stories, videos, photos) – leveraging the capabilities of Facebook and Pinterest for running sweepstakes and contests
A good way to draw consumers to your social media sites is to host contests. It’s a straight forward way to build followers of your brand and ultimately to have them “opt-in” to being open to receiving email offers from you for new products, services or promotions.
Create and share content regularly that engages consumers and encourages them to share, recommend and, ultimately, buy
The final step is to measuring the impact of your online social media efforts. A great way to do that is with a measure call an Earned Digital Engagement or EDE. Earned Digital Engagements are the metric you can use to measure the direct impact of your online social media efforts, independent of natural conversation.
Using an EDE methodology, you’re able to provide a comparable measure of the number of people reached online, but this form of measurement also accounts for their action. The EDE measures the number of people reached through a brand’s social media efforts across channels – from blogs to Facebook to Twitter and YouTube and Flickr.
An earned engagement consists of the number of people influenced by an interaction with your brand that results in a:
- Or public Facebook engagement
Forrester Research said it best: “…interactive marketers must move beyond experimentation by making social applications a permanent part of marketing, measuring and demonstrating their value, and integrating them into marketing efforts.”