An interesting article on Social Media Today (http://www.socialmediatoday. com/SMC/184916) has raised some really key issues in the social media landscape.
Many businesses in the modern day are looking to utilize social media communication for a number of different reasons, but often these reasons are not suitable for their business or their unique customers. This has led to a raft of mistakes,misdirection and error that has turned a potentially beneficial communication medium into a costly, difficult and sometimes damaging exercise.
Common trend suggests that all businesses need to be involved in some sort of social media communication and though there is nothing wrong with this assumption, businesses must test whether this form of marketing will suit their organisation and more importantly, their customers.
There is not a one size fits all solution for this form of marketing, no unified plan or route and no definitive results at the end of the process, thus business must find a solution that truly fits their needs.
Below are some top tips for developing successful social media solutions for your business.
Focus on Long Term goals rather than Short Term gain
There are short term benefits to be gained from social media communication such as buzz creation and attention grabbing but to provide true benefit for you and your customers you must look at the bigger picture.
The ultimate benefit from social media marketing is engagement with your customers, however this is not a quick process. Your business must continue to provide high quality, informative and usable content for your customers over a long period, only then will you truly garner the benefits of customer engagement, but they are worth the wait.
Integrate into overall strategy, not just as side experiment
A common mistake that businesses are making is seeing social media as a supporting medium rather than part of their overall communications strategy. Although using social media is normally cheaper than many other communication channels, this does not mean that not committing to it fully will bring significant benefits.
The major issue with not integrating social media into your overall strategy is the separation between your unique brand message and what is communicated through social channels.
This separation can confuse your brand vision and muddle consumer perception towards you, with the increase in consumer power this confusion could prove severely damaging to your brand.
Develop your own strategy, rather than following the Trend
There is a common misconception that the more social networks your business is involved in,results and success will follow, this is wrong. Again there is a trend at the moment of businesses suggesting that they 'need' to be using social media but in reality have no idea or reason as to why!
Instead of just following the crowd into social media, businesses must first take time and care in identifying why, what, where, when and how. This will take active research and insight from your business, but will result in more efficient, targeted and effective social communications that will be beneficial to your business.
Do not use 'traditional' metrics to measure social media results
As mentioned before, there is no one size fits all approach to social media thus there is no universal measures for success, each business will be different. Traditionally business success has been measured in financial terms however it is nearly impossible to put a financial figure on long term consumer engagement.
A new market has opened with businesses offering social media analytics packages that offer a wide array of sentiment information relating to your brand. Conversation about your brand will be happening, whether your involved or not, but if you do not monitor this then you will be unable to affect it.
Thus it is more important to monitor and measure consumer feeling through social media than financial ROI, particularly as positive consumer feeling will take care of ROI in the long run.