Social media take advantage of social interactions. The role of social media in a company’s overall communications program can have significant business results if implemented correctly. With the advent of Web 2.0, advertising has become about engaging in conversation with consumers, as the most trusted sources of recommendation come through word-of-mouth communication. While a set of hard-and-fast rules for incorporating social media into an overall communications campaign does not exist, there are a variety of best practices to maximize the effectiveness of a social media program
User-Generated Content in Social Media
A successful social media strategy must begin with an understanding of consumer conversations and characteristics. Consumers are more likely to respond to a social media strategy when they can interact with and help others. The ability to foster a social relationship between consumers and companies is an essential component of a social media strategy.
A firm must first listen to what existing online communities are saying about their products and services before a social media strategy in place. The success of a social media program is highly dependent upon knowing where the majority of conversations are occurring.
Once these conversations are known, marketers must leverage social media to participate in the discussion and effectively manage their customer relationships. Social media is about fostering communication with consumers rather than a single push of a brand message. A social media strategy must, therefore, allow for users to share and contribute to the content. A content strategy must be developed according to the characteristics of preexisting online consumer communities and supported by an integrated online campaign (including a company blog, interactive website, articles, and videos). The social media tools employed in such a campaign should be chosen based on where most conversations about a company are taking place and the social media habits of the participants.
Social Media Marketing Tools
There are a variety of tools to choose from when formulating a social media strategy. The network’s power multiplies through the integration of various social media tools. The mix of social media highly depends on the objectives of the plan and the trends in social media usage among the target market.
Chat rooms are one of the oldest forms of social media, but still have significant value in terms of developing an active social media strategy. It is particularly true when a firm is trying to identify where conversations are already occurring about their products and services. Incorporating a chat room or discussion board into a firm’s website can improve customer service, increase the sense of consumer community, and effectively address consumer needs through better communications and enhanced relationships.
A business blog is a powerful and universal way to drive positive word-of-mouth recommendations through the content that a company publishes. Blogs enable companies to establish and build meaningful relationships with their target, thereby increasing customer loyalty and the number of third-party advocates for the firm. A blog is a successful marketing tool when the conversation on the blog turns into an online buzz for the firm. A business blog is in place as a marketing tool by using it as a forum to offer tips and advice. Publish an incentives program that encourages referrals, hold contests, answer questions, gather and showcase customer stories, and publicly respond to stakeholder comments to maintain the conversation.
Harnessing the powers of the video is critical to the content of many social media campaigns. YouTube is the second most searched site after Google. Maintaining a YouTube channel for one’s company allows for videos to also be embedded within a company’s blog, thereby cross-pollinating the sites, which in turn helps to increase website traffic. YouTube also allows for consumer engagement through user-generated content.
Facebook boasts more than 1.15 billion active users and is, therefore, the most popular social networking site. Not only does Facebook offer various advertising programs, but it also enables companies to create their customized profile and share relevant information in the creation of their brand community. Furthermore, Facebook provides companies with a unique opportunity to very specifically target users and spawn a two-way conversation with consumers.
LinkedIn is another social networking site that gears towards a more professional audience. Like Facebook, there are opportunities to advertise one’s business on this site, develop a profile for a company that is visible to LinkedIn users, and foster two-way relationships with individual career professionals as well as other firms.
Twitter is referred to as a “microblogging” tool, as posts were limited to 140 characters, but When using URLs on Twitter, tweets are now limited to 117 characters. Twitter is beneficial for engaging with customers and propagating the conversation about one’s brand, products, and services. It is also ideal for building relationships with key stakeholders.
Google Wave is a revolutionary effect on collaboration and engagement once it becomes mainstream. This tool works in such a way that consumers can actively interact and engage with one another in real-time, and with marketers. It will enable marketers to create rich brand experiences through crowdsourcing. Four Square is another tool that leverages networked activity to connect individuals on a local and mobile basis while incentivizing participants through increased participation. Businesses may use Four Square as a means of encouraging engagement within their networks, whether externally or internally. Nowadays, Foursquare is in use by some shots of shopping malls, coffee shops. There was another excellent story about Starbucks in Singapore, depicting how Foursquare has grown its brand equity as well as sales in Singapore.
Besides, platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Flicker are more famous for the picture/image-based marketing.
I think I have covered most of the popular ones; however, thanks to our social innovators – a new tool is coming almost daily.
On the continuation of this topic, I believe the Measurement of a Social Media Program and associated Analytical Tools are left. I will be covering this part in the next post.