Even though social media has long been an integral part of most marketing campaigns, it does not mean that marketers have found the perfect formula for a bulletproof strategy. Developing a successful social media plan is still one of the top challenges marketing teams face, and many believe that integrating social media into sales processes is now more difficult than ever before.
One of the hardest parts of social media marketing is the fact that it is virtually limitless. There are so many channels and outlets that your brand can release content through that teams often feel overwhelmed and don’t know which avenue to go down. However, a strong social media presence is more important than ever these days. The majority of social media users of all age groups agree that they would be quite likely to purchase from a brand they follow online.
While there are many components to a great social media strategy, there are four key ingredients that are essential for success.
Defined Brand Voice
Social media is an excellent tool for connecting with audiences that may never interact with your brand otherwise. You can have fun sharing pictures, memes, messages, and joining in conversations in a way that is simply not possible with traditional marketing methods. However, this freedom can backfire if your team is not careful.
If your company’s image is one thing on its website, but something completely different on social media, it creates inconsistency. This diminishes the hard work that you have put into brand establishment, and can lead to damaged credibility, a slower sales cycle, and even lost revenue.
Before you share any content on your social pages, be sure to check that it fits well with your overall brand image. One way to make sure that things like color schemes and verbiage are in line is to keep a brand journal. This is an online database of important factors for all marketing messages, such as SEO keywords, tracking IDs, artwork, and language. By keeping this information localized in one area, your entire team can access it to guide their content and ensure that every message effectively adds to your brand’s image.
Top of the Sales Funnel Content
Most social media brands are focused heavily on conversions. And while this channel is certainly effective for boosting sales, posting only bottom-of-the-sales-funnel content that encourages action can actually backfire. In fact, nearly half of social media users unfollow brand accounts which publish solely promotional posts that are focused on pushing products.
While a post here and there with a link to a check out page is certainly a healthy and natural part of a profitable social media strategy, it should not be the only type of content that gets published. Instead, brands should focus more on educational and informative posts.
According to Sprout’s report, consumers are more interested in brands sharing compelling content, providing information, and being interactive than they are about the products themselves.
The awareness stage (top of the funnel) is incredibly important, especially when you are just starting to sell online, so be sure that your content is strongly focused on building brand credibility, rather than pushing sales off the bat. Talk about your brand story and what makes your products or company truly unique. Be sure that your content is balanced and not just focused on making a sale, but instead on making connections and relationships with your audience.
If video isn’t a key part of your social media strategy yet, it needs to be. Social media is becoming a hub for streaming, and the engagement levels for this type of content are through the roof.
There are lots of ways to incorporate video into your content marketing strategy, such as emotional testimonials from customers who have a story to tell. Or, you can use it to establish your brand as an expert with thought-leadership focused content, such as tutorials or interviews with key figures in the industry.
The great news is that if your videos are at all engaging, your customers will watch. According to the same Sprout report mentioned earlier, 83% of audiences love it when brands share engaging videos. Furthermore, 64% of watchers were influenced to purchase from the brand due to this content.
The purpose of social media is to build a network of connections, both between individuals and brands. All the big social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have one key purpose in common: to bring people together.
Social media is not a solo sport, so your branding strategies should not be limited to just your company’s accounts. Collaboration is not only helpful; it’s necessary to broaden your reach and connect with customers. This is why influencer marketing and brand collaborations have become so popular. Seven out of ten consumers prefer promotions when they come from non-celebrity influencers, and 40% of consumers have bought a product that they were introduced to through an influencer on social media. And because these customers are so highly engaged, over half of marketing teams report that the consumers who purchase through these channels spend more and are more likely to stay loyal to the brand.
When choosing an influencer to partner with, you should make sure that they are on-brand with your marketing and run in the same audience circles, so to speak. They are representing your company, and though you may have some control over the content they post for the promotion, you do not have any over their personal brand or reputation. This is why it is key to do your homework before agreeing to a collaboration with an influencer. Delve deep into the analytics and data to be sure that their audience reach will be relevant and beneficial, and check out their own brand image before attaching your name to theirs.
In short, your brand’s social presence is a key part of a successful PR and marketing strategy. Little mistakes like inconsistent brand messaging or purely promotional content can do far more harm than good, so be sure to follow your brand’s guidelines and foster awareness rather than just action. From there, create content that prompts engagement (such as videos and relevant influencer promotions) for better customers and greater conversions.