3 Q&A’s Before Starting Social Media Crusade
If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all guide to social media marketing, this isn’t it. As an on-line marketing coordinator for a small business, I can tell you from firsthand experience that no such thing exists.
No matter what some social media experts claim when attempting to sell their services.
Whether you need to promote a company or a personal brand, each social media marketing approach is unique for a number of reasons. No two businesses are the same, no matter how similar their products, services or target audiences. As such, you’ll have to determine what sort of social media marketing campaign — if any — would best serve your needs.
To help you along your way, this article will address three questions every business owner and entrepreneur should research, contemplate and answer before diving into social media marketing. With the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to evaluate your professional social media needs and develop a plan that will benefit your brand with the resources you have available.
How does your competition use social media?
First of all, consider whether the average consumer wants to interact with your brand via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. One way to estimate your potential engagement is by researching how your competition uses social media. Whether all, some or none of your competitors promote themselves on social media, you should consider their motivation — just be sure to do so with a grain of salt.
For example, based on my online marketing experience in the surety industry, I’ve found that most bond insurance companies like mine don’t even try to use social media to connect with existing clients or attract new ones. This means one of two things.
- They don’t know how to use social media as a marketing tool.
- They’ve determined social media marketing isn’t a good ROI.
Based on their other online marketing efforts, I’ve concluded that the former is more likely to be true than the latter. It seems that most surety bond companies out there don’t recognize the value they could gain from effective social media engagement.
Just because your competition thinks social media is a pointless marketing effort doesn’t mean that it is. The door has been left wide open for you.
Conversely, just because most of your competitors use social media doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a good investment for your business. The point is to examine how and why others in your market use (or don’t use) social media before making your own investments.
Is your brand naturally engaging?
Like it or not, some industries can be integrated into social media much more easily than others. Professionals who work in seemingly bland industries must overcome a higher barrier to entry before they can develop engaging social media accounts.
If, like me, you work in a traditionally boring market, you might struggle to develop viral social media content.
This isn’t to say “boring” companies can’t successfully infiltrate the realm of social media marketing; it does, however, mean they might have to invest more time and effort than brands that are naturally engaging.
For example, brands such as McDonald’s, Nike and Walmart have naturally engaging personas via social media because they’re already part of consumers’ everyday lives.
Businesses in traditionally boring industries — such as finance, cleaning or manufacturing — have their work cut out for them as many people prefer not to discuss such topics in their free time.
In these situations, we must remember that social media was created for people to interact with each other, not businesses.
Now that social media has evolved to include corporations, organizations and political parties, we must remember personal interactions that relate to every day life — not promotional posts — are the most successful at engaging typical users.
If your brand can’t connect with consumers on a personal level, you’ll see little benefit from social media marketing.
Have you set realistic goals?
Once you’ve concluded social media marketing could benefit your overall marketing efforts in some way, you need to evaluate your expectations. All too often small business owners expect to observe immediate results, yet this is rarely the case.
As such, I’d like to address two subquestions; their answers are equally important.
- Can you afford to develop social media engagement? If you don’t have an adequate budget to fund your social media pursuits, you probably won’t be able to optimize your engagement. The big name players who get great engagement allocate a significant amount of their marketing budget to their social media pursuits. This could come in the form of outsourcing social accounts, paying for promoted content or hiring a social media manager. If you don’t think social media marketing will give you a decent ROI, then you might not want to waste money that could benefit your other marketing projects.
- Do you have time to develop social media engagement? On a similar note, if you don’t have the time to dedicate to social media marketing, you won’t be able to engage as effectively as brands that put a great deal of time and manpower into managing accounts. To optimize social media engagement, you need to consistently update your accounts with quality information. If you don’t have the time, don’t even try. The only thing worse than a nonexistent social media account is a lackluster one that’s poorly managed.
Promoting your brand via social media is a great way to engage clients if, and only if, you’re able to do so effectively.
If you can’t invest the time, money and effort necessary to produce a quality social media presence, you should reconsider your expectations, goals and general purpose. By answering these questions, you’ll be able to maximize your social media marketing efforts.
Danielle Rodabaugh is the chief editor and social media manager at SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide insurance company that primarily operates online. Danielle has helped develop the SuretyBonds.com brand since its inception in 2009. Danielle is highly competitive, loves taking on challenges and enjoys helping others succeed. You can keep up with Danielle on Google+.
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Follow Author?Danielle Rodabaugh
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