Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Social Media – How business can maximize on Social Media Outreach?

Needless to say that modern marketing is a blend of text book techniques and social media marketing  knowledge.

Push messages are now becoming history, it’s the time to engage your customer and with its phenomenal outreach, social media is the only tool that can help businesses engage with their customers. The challenge for  marketing professionals is to learn the logic of using social media effectively!

For the last couple of weeks I have been advising a friend of mine Zishan Jafri on developing social media presence for his business. I figured out that recently a number of companies have started jumping onto the “social media bandwagon”. Some of them realized the outreach and importance of social media, however a number of them just wanted to be there doing something on their social media.

The fact is that a number of companies do not develop a formal social media strategy. The process of developing their community is usually not the focus; they just want their presence on social media, particularly facebook. There is no doubt that with ever growing number of social media users, businesses no matter small or big need to use this medium to interact with their customers. But the question is how do you effectively use social media?

First thing first – Market Knowledge! It is essential to understand what your competitors are doing for promoting their brands and where do you stand in comparison of other market players. A basic social media audit can help in identifying your marketplace and your customer’s social hangouts, i.e, facebook, twitter, blogs, discussion groups etc. I advise that a social media audit should be part of a company’s market research policy.

A number of businesses also show concern about the extent they could suck into social media. And that is true! In many cases, a number of businesses fail to gain any benefit of having social media presence. It is essential for businesses to understand that social media marketing is a targeted effort; hence a business needs to define its priorities before engaging into social media initiative. Priorities can only be defined based on what milestones a company wishes to achieve i.e., brand development or repositioning, building customer relationship, improving market reputation, engaging potential customers, improving customer satisfaction etc.

But at the end of the day, social media is a science of what messages needs to go to whom and at what time of the day! On social media, feedback is usually prompt; hence the response needs to be carefully drafted in advance to suite the possible feedback or questions. However at times, prepared messages are not appropriate; this makes a call for an expert to consider drafting suitable response.

Blogging, which should be considered as an integral part of any social media campaign is heavily depended on content, and the quality of content attracts readers. Blogs generally focused on sharing information in a relatively detailed manner. I strongly suggest to embed videos, presentations and pictures in blogs to make content interesting. Blogs are good to attract readership on facebook and twitter. There are many social media book marking platforms such as Stumbleupon that could help in creating a viral impact of a social media campaign.

In my experience, social media campaigns can be effective only if businesses are able to integrate their social media properly. This means, having twitter, facebook, linkedin, blog, video content, pictures and presentations, all integrated to represent the same brand image. Integration is effective in creating a good viral impact and to increases customer retention within one space of social media.

Needless to say that a formal social media policy describing the objectives, deliverables and assigning resources both human and financial can only help reap the benefit of social media outreach. Zishan’s business is now social media enabled; the challenge for him to keep-up with the pace and watch his competitors closely!


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