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Social Media is everywhere; stories become viral and reach people all over the world within a matter of minutes.  It is credited as a key component helping the on-going revolutions around the world and social media companies like Facebook go public with a value of $100 billion US dollar. Who would have thought all that would happen ten years ago?

More and more companies are adapting to the trend and put a high focus on social media marketing to connect with their target audience; it’s a good strategy, but have you ever heard: We need to get a presence on social media platforms, just go ahead and do it – without thinking through the process? Quite often, this is where the problem starts. Social Media is often assumed to be the answer to every question; “it’s the magic new way of doing marketing” All of a sudden all the traditional marketing questions like – What do we want to achieve? Who is our target audience? Where is our target audience? – have been forgotten.

Find the right channel

These are just few of many questions that have to be considered before we decide whether social media is the right channel to deliver our message. Social media might be the right channel to increase brand awareness and engagement, but it may not necessarily the right channel for lead generation. Like any form of marketing, depending upon who our target audience is we have to  use different, or different combinations of, social channels. Facebook might not be number one priority for B2B companies, but it is the perfect channel to increase awareness for consumer brands. However, Facebook is not the one-stop-shop for all social media marketing; for instance, if my target audience is C-level executives, I have to find out which sites they use most for being social. I might find out they visit certain blogs and are more active on LinkedIn, then I will put high focus marketing on these platforms, instead of choosing to target them via Facebook.

Understand your target audience

If the target audience and their social media use are not understood, my message gets lost and my social campaign ends up as #failed. One recent example makes me wonder what the company was thinking when they launched their social media campaign; McDonalds attempted to boost its social media activity with its new twitter campaign around #McDstories: Customers were asked to share their McDonalds experience by using the hashtag #McDstories. When I read this sentence in an article, my first thought was: “Why would McDonalds think of doing that? Didn’t they think through the consequences this can have for a fast food company like McDonalds”? Also, most of the kids that actually experience happy stories at McDonalds (celebrating birthdays, family lunches, happy meals etc.) are definitely not on Twitter to share their “McDstories”. As expected, the campaign went in a completely opposite direction, like the following tweets show:

 

  • “I only eatMcDonald’s when I am ill because it makes me feel sick anyway. #McDStories”
  • “One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up. #McDStories”
  • “Dude, I used to work at McDonald’s. The #McDStories I could tell would raise your hair.”

Experiences like this show, that in social media it is even more important to consider specific marketing questions and tactics. If you find out who your target audience is and where they socialize virtually, then you’re a step ahead in creating awareness among them. You still need to find ways to engage them and build a relationship with them – never forget being authentic, it’s one of the most important things in social media. Most importantly, always keep thinking critically and ask yourself, is social media really the right way to address this issue? If not, rather choose another successful marketing method!

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