Social Media 101: Do Your Homework
Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to provide a 30 minute introduction to Twitter at my local Chamber of Commerce. The audience, a group of small business owners in the B2B and B2C space, was generally active on social media but only three people were using Twitter. LinkedIn was there most popular tool to connect, followed by Facebook.
When asked what their most burning questions were, two challenges stood out:
- What is the difference between Facebook and Twitter (for business)?
- How do I create a social media strategy that delivers ROI?
Great questions that don’t have simple answers.
What is the difference between Facebook and Twitter (for business)?
My initial reaction was to answer the first question in terms of the target audience, i.e. FB is more B2C focused, while Twitter is good for B2B. While this is correct, whether a business should choose to employ one of these tools is a lot more complex. It requires the answer to the second question, so that any social media activity can be informed by clear goals and the method to reach them.
How do I create a social media strategy that delivers ROI?
The below slide deck includes a slide that provides a high-level overview of the elements of a social media strategy. Starting with clear and measurable goals, one of the key ingredients to success is an in-depth understanding of the target audience. Often, there are multiple audiences that have to be segmented to serve them properly.
Questions should include:
- What are their roles and titles?
- What companies do they work for (SMB, Enterprise, industries…) ?
- What geography are they in?
- Are they existing or new clients, or both?
- What are their pain points? What are their information gaps?
- Where on social media do they engage or lurk (if they do)?
>> The more information you have to create specific personas the better
In my consulting practice, I often see frustration with clients when I ask them to do this homework of defining and researching their target audience. Unfortunately, without this information, future investments are unlikely to deliver the desired ROI.
So, to get back to the first question on the differences of Facebook and Twitter, what really matters is: Is your audience there? If they are on either channel or both, what it takes is to get familiar with the platform and marketing options and apply these tools like you would apply email marketing or any other marketing tactics.
That’s what matters. Knowing your audience, where and how they engage and creating a plan to provide your audience with the information they are looking for to help you reach your goals (example: awareness, leads, purchase). As the B2B sales cycle is longer and more complex that B2C ones, objectives and tactics need to be developed accordingly. In summary, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in social media marketing. Plus, there should not be social media marketing in isolation, but an integrated marketing strategy for your whole business. Social media might not even be a fit for you or only make up a small piece of your strategy.
But, and this is almost the most important aspect of it all that I have learned through my consulting practice: there is an element of psychology that has to be applied to develop the right (social media) marketing strategy for a business.
What is Social Media Marketing Client Psychology?
The biggest mistake in social media marketing is to underestimate the amount of resources it takes to be successful: most of all people and time. This challenge begins with the research needed to create a solid strategy and continues with the need to create good content on an ongoing basis and engage with the target audience vs. just publish to them. Yes, blogging is a wonderful marketing tool for most clients I work with. BUT, not everybody likes to write, has the time or affinity to be a blogger.
Know yourself before you commit to social media activities, or get the appropriate staff. Too many social media efforts fail due to a well-intended strategy that neglects the personal aspect of social media. As social media is people-to-people, THE PEOPLE from your business who interact in social media need to have their heart in it and be subject matter experts.
Hence, before you develop a grandiose marketing plan, think about the resources you truly have available and then prioritize like crazy to do the things that advance your goals the most. Once you achieve success, maybe on Twitter, maybe on Facebook, maybe by writing blogs, you are ready to see what other activities you might be able to add. Think quality over quantity; doing a few things extremely well vs. a lot, mediocre.