Social media is a wide-ranging and effective way of influencing how current and future customers view your company.
Today, customers are much more sophisticated and less receptive to traditional outbound marketing methods that have company profits as their main goal. Instead, organizations must work hard to create a human-to-human connection with customers to earn their trust and their money. Since customers are more likely to buy from companies they trust and have a relationship, well-developed social media campaigns help the process of relationship building.
In an August 2013 article for Massachusetts-based CIO.com, marketing expert James A. Martin noted that Unilever’s Dove Soap Real Beauty Sketches marketing campaign achieved viral success with 18,000 Twitter tweets, 681,000 Facebook likes and 2,400 Google +1 endorsements. By using a theme that resonated with many viewers – the self-perception of personal beauty versus how others perceived that same beauty – Unilever established its reputation as a company that cared about their customers beyond mere profit.
Before you start to brand your company in a social media campaign, however, advance planning is necessary to make your social media as effective as possible. Ideally, your company leaders and marketing department should consider answers to the following questions before starting a branding campaign:
1) What do customers, internal employees and media sources think of your company? Press coverage, customer polls and employee focus groups can provide valuable insights into your company’s public and private image.
2) How do you want your company to be perceived in the future? By having a clear understanding of the company’s present and future image, your social media campaign will be more focused and precise. Your employees can also act as brand ambassadors and play an influential part in changing perceptions of your company.
3) What differentiates your company from competitors in the marketplace? Give some thought to what your company does better or faster than similar businesses.
4) Who is the intended audience? Knowing your audience and where they’re located affects the tone of your social media messages.
5) What social media sites are being used most frequently? The demographics of users vary with each site. Teens are more likely to be on Twitter, while older adults are more likely to use Facebook. However, demographics change by industry, gender and age, so it is best to experiment, check each site’s metrics and make changes when needed.
6) Which social media sites would be best suited to showcase your products and services? Sites that are primarily visual such as Pinterest or YouTube are particularly useful for products or services with a high visual appeal. Facebook and Twitter are more useful for text-based communications but also allow visual elements to be added to messages.
7) How will you communicate with your followers and fans on social media? Ideally, the tone of communication should be a mix of self-promotion and messages intended for the benefit of the community.
8) When will you communicate on social media? Depending upon the audience’s geographical location, the timing for social media posts should be carefully chosen and altered if necessary.
9) What are the goals you want to achieve with your social media marketing? Social media can be used for many purposes, such as increasing brand awareness, promoting a new product or service, rebranding a company and increasing revenue. However, specific goals should be established prior to the campaign.
10) How can you use video, infographics, photos and other forms of visual communication to give users a positive impression of your company? Visual storytelling through video, infographics, photos and artwork gives users impressions about how your company thinks and acts.