Taming the Social Media beast: Take the bull by the #horns

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 Andrew Hadley (@baby_donthurtme)

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How to master one of the most powerful marketing tools the world has ever known.

In this article, Verb get social. This is the first article in a two-part series on social media. This shorter version speaks generally, discussing what’s involved in maintaining a successful social media campaign for an SME. The longer version unravels how to excel on three of the leading social platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.                                                                                                               

Social media in 2015 is bigger than ever, with millions of interactions every minute. From a business perspective, social media is a tool to establish new relationships within the online market and maintain and enhance your existing customer relations. These relationships are only formed and maintained by being socially-engaged with your customer. By optimising social platform strategy, your brand will become more and more recognised, and eventually more trusted. Consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they trust, with 72% more likely to buy from a business they follow on Twitter, and 85%  feeling more connected to it.

Social Media 101: 5 Key things to think about                                                                                                

Small businesses have a number of limiting factors. Typically, these are team size, budget size and time available. To help get the most of these, take a look at our quick, five-step guide to a successful social media campaign:

1. Know your customer and identify the channels that are relevant to your brand:

Take an objective look at your business; What does it sell? Who are your customers? What new customers do you want to reach? Why not put together a 5 part questionnaire and send it out to your customers, incentivise them to fill this in by offering a % reduction on a product or service and listen to their responses. Specialist questionnaire companies such as SurveyMonkey enable you to quickly construct free surveys, which will hone your understanding of your customer base by presenting you with tangible findings. Here’s an example below of a fictitious pet produce company, ‘WeRPetProduce’. By asking the right questions, you can quickly work out what your customer base likes and dislikes. For instance, if the response to question 2 (below) is largely against daily e-mail updates, this serves as a constructive indication that you may need to change your e-mail marketing strategy.

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Remember, social media campaigns require investing a lot of time, so make sure none of it is wasted on surplus channels. For example, if you run a waste disposal company, perhaps Instagram isn’t a priority platform.

2. Be consistent:

If you’re going to update your platforms every day at 3 pm and you tell your customer this, ensure it’s every day at 3 pm. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to run the social media at the same time as my business!”. This can be easily managed by scheduling your content release ahead of time. Social media management apps such as Buffer enable you to schedule content release across a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Buffer then provides real-time analytics within the platform; enabling you to see how far your posts reach. If you plan to publish content on numerous platforms, make sure the voice across them is consistent.

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3. Be human, be funny, be friendlyMost relationships, especially those online, are built on trust. One way to cement solid relationships with your following is by showing that you’re just human too, and are often just as silly. Take a look at this example of the Innocent campaign for a new line of noodles. The overall aim is to promote the launch of the noodles. However, instead of simply tweeting about their release, Innocent designed some visually stimulating, noodle-based content and some awful puns! This tongue in cheek approach achieves it’s intention of launching the noodles, but also shows that a huge company with a turnover of millions can inform consumers whilst also finding common ground.

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4. Stimulate your audience:

Become a source of great content. Great content is not just comprised of coy quips. Mix it up! 44% of people are more likely to engage with a Tweet if it contains imagery. Pairing great, variable content with scheduled updates will make followers anticipate your stimulating updates. It will also increase the chance of people retweeting, sharing and reposting your content, which could generate new leads, new followers as well as expanding your brand’s reach. Here’s a great example of interactive content from SONOS; as you scroll, the image mimics soundwaves. It puts what SONOS does into an interactive image:

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5. Respond to engagement:

Although social media is conducted entirely online, the B2C relationships you have are with real people. These people lead real lives and ask questions that they want genuine answers to. Make sure you bear this in mind; a personal, informed and timely response to a query/comment is likely to go down brilliantly, whereas a ‘Stock Response’ is not. Take a look at a collection of the good, the bad and the downright rude.

At Verb, we are well placed to consult small businesses on the optimisation of their social media strategy. If you would like to talk further, contact us here.

To read Part 2, click here.