What social media marketing really is, and what it’s not!

Companies of all sizes and segments are now mindful of the importance that a social media presence has for their business.

Social media profiles are the place where search engines direct potential prospects right after the company’s website, or even before it! They are the platforms where customers go to if they have a question or complaint about products and services. They also are an effective channel to promote content marketing pieces.

So, everybody wants to be there.

Well at least almost everyone, there is still a significant group of businesses that are afraid of social media (for more on this you can read: Can social media ruin your brand reputation?).

But what about those companies that do want a social media presence? Simply being on social media is not enough. About a year ago I wrote a piece on social media frenzy (Stop the social media frenzy (and start paying)) and things have changed a lot from then.

Social media savvy businesses are now better able to define their strategy and invest their efforts and money in the right campaigns. However, there are still companies that don’t fully understand the implications of being ‘social’ in social media. Recently, a prospect contacted me with the single purpose of increasing the number of their Twitter followers. They were about to go out with a great PR stunt and wanted more Twitter followers, both to promote the PR piece and to show that they were a ‘liked’ company. Their request was something along the lines of ‘We want X number of new followers in the next 10 days’.

Is this an achievable goal? Yes, it is. There are many ways to get new followers, from actually buying them (yes you can do such a thing) to following as many people as possible in the hope they will follow back. But my question to the prospect was: ‘Beside looking good, what is your real purpose for getting these followers? Why would you invest your money in getting a specific number of followers?’ It’s important to understand that if you buy your followers or if you follow random people, you will end up getting an audience that is not interested in you.

They will not engage with your social media activity, they won’t move any further in the sales pipeline, and they will unfollow you very soon! All you will be left with is a hole in your budget.

Social media is not about ‘looking good’ (and least not only about it), and it is not even just about likes, shares and followers. Being on social media means engaging with people. It means being honest and transparent. It means offering a reason for people to check out your profile and to choose to interact with you. It means offering great content, outstanding curated material, being their first client service point of contact. When you design a social media marketing campaign there are so many factors that are way more important than the final number of followers. This could sound complicated but it’s not really, if you follow these simple steps:

1) Ensure that your social media strategy is aligned with your overall business strategy. Getting followers simply because you post a ‘funny cat’ video when your company is actually in B2B might not be the most successful of business decisions. Your followers most likely won’t fall into your business target audience and will start leaving you as soon as they realise that you are a business they have no interest in.

2) Define your target audience, understand what they are looking for and use social media to engage with them on topics that are relevant and useful for them. As an example, my Twitter profile is mostly about branding and digital marketing and that’s why my followers follow me. I make sure that I put relevant and timely information on these fields (like this Tweet) and they reward me with their engagement.

3) Set SMART goals: specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and time-based; and …

4)… remember that likes, favourites, re-tweets and shares are not necessarily signs of a successful campaign. People need to be genuinely engaged with you and because of that they need to subscribe to whatever your goal is. Do you need people to get to know more about your latest product? How many people reached your landing page from social media platforms? This is way more important than simple ‘likes’.

5) Engage with your audience, for real. It’s so tempting to use automated solutions, for instance one of those that send automated ‘Thank you for following me’ messages to all your new followers. Except that there is nothing more annoying than receiving a message from a bot! Your followers won’t think any better of you because of an automated, cold, message. However, they will think way more of you if you actually take the time to check their profile and to send a personal note, relevant to their profile and that links your business to them.

Also, regularly check their posts, engage with their posts. Keep it a 2-way conversation where you don’t expect that only your followers should share your posts, but where you invest time to read their posts and engage with them.

6) Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts should provide value to your followers, 20% should be about you. Nobody wants to hear on and on about what is happening with your company, the same way you wouldn’t want to hear about a friend that only speaks about him/herself (remember, this is a ‘social’ world).

7) Above all, be honest, be genuine. This doesn’t mean that you must share everything that pops up in your mind, but there is no point in pretending to be a type of business you are not, sooner or later you will get busted and it will be even worse!

So yes, social media takes time, but it is also here to stay so better make the most out of it!

what social media marketing is

Need help with your Social Media strategy? Contact me at giulia@knowthybrand.com  

About the author: Giulia Iannucci is a strategic branding and marketing consultant, and founder of KnowThyBrand. From brand identity to logo design, from website creation to digital marketing strategy, KnowThyBrand offers a range of solutions for businesses that are starting their journey and those that are looking to find a new way. www.knowthybrand.com

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  1. Pingback: Can social media ruin your brand reputation? – KnowThyBrand

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