A good marcom program begins with a single strategy, and social media should play a key role in that strategy. With its reach, accessibility, near-universal audience and—most importantly—its ability to connect with people at an almost one-to-one level, social media brings a unique set of strengths to the table. So, integrating it into your marketing program can help you achieve your goals.
No matter what approach you take to social media, you should always start with your persona and a documented content strategy. Consider the two questions below, and your social media tactics will flow naturally out of your answers:
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re ready to create a social media program that will resonate with your audience. Let’s take a look at three ways you can use social media to bolster your marketing program and how those approaches can help you achieve marketing goals.
Some marketers employ social media as a self-contained marketing program. They reach a large range of customers by providing content that addresses all stages of the customer journey. Use this approach when you want to increase visibility, build credibility and amplify your content.
Increase visibility. Many users begin their searches on social media, so a solid presence makes you easier to find. You can also use social media to humanize your brand in ways that simply aren’t possible with other media, like sharing customer stories, promoting volunteerism and creating playful posts that give your brand a distinct personality.
Build credibility. When you provide a range of content types, you’re showing your audience that you have expertise in your area. You may be educating them, engaging them and/or providing a good or service they need. Plus, much of your audience probably uses social media in their personal lives, so you can connect with them on a level that a brand without a social media can’t.
Amplify your content. You may be creating tons of exciting content for your website, but what good is that content if no one ever reads it? Using social posts to promote your content works a lot like a camp counselor speaking through a megaphone—without it, a few kids may listen, but with it, suddenly all the kids within fifty yards are paying attention.
Imagine you’re browsing LinkedIn for jobs. While browsing, you see a company’s sponsored post and click the link. After scrolling through the page and reading several relevant, useful posts, you decide to follow the company. That’s exactly how this approach works—you meet your audience where they are, educate them on something relevant and make new connections.
Meet your customers where they are. This is the essence of inbound marketing. By expanding your digital presence, social media plays an important role in the inbound marketing process. And it’s a marked contrast to the outbound approaches of the past, which relied on interrupting prospects with hard-charging sales pitches. Prospects will appreciate that it was their choice to pay attention to you.
Educate your audience. Draw prospects in with useful information, and continue to provide helpful content throughout the customer journey. By the time prospects convert into customers, they’ll feel like you solved a problem instead of sold them something. And guess what? Next time they have a similar problem, it’s likely they’ll revisit your content for a solution.
Connect with new audiences. A major benefit of social media is that it allows you to connect with newer, younger audience members who have grown up with the technology. Chances are, this audience uses social channels in their personal lives, so it may be the best way to reach them.
Although it’s important to develop relationships with new customers, it’s equally important to foster the relationships you have with existing customers. Happy customers who share your content organically broaden your reach and increase awareness of your brand. Leverage that by developing loyal fans, letting them share their opinions and providing excellent customer service they’ll want to rave about.
Develop loyal fans. Providing an outstanding product or service is only part of what makes some brands so successful on social media. Many companies respond to customer inquiries or problems on their Facebook page or other sites. When brands are authentic, transparent and timely in their replies, it helps solidify their reputation and increase brand advocacy among customers.
Gain market intelligence. Just because it's B2B doesn’t mean the audience is comprised of robots. Followers are still your average consumer with daily social media habits, including a willingness to share their opinion. Once you’ve built up a following, try asking customers what they think. Making customers feel heard is a win-win because they get a voice, and you get insight into the kind of content they want.
Manage brand perceptions. Social media offers a wide variety of opportunities to research and monitor perception of your brand. There are many tools (free and paid) that will report on brand mentions, sentiment and even identify influencers. Monitoring conversations online allows you to join the conversation and fill in gaps of information that your customers may be seeking.
There are lots of ways to integrate social media into your existing program once you’ve selected the right platforms. But like any other marketing program, it will achieve much better results when all your efforts work together to support a common goal.