Congratulations on your engagement! No, not that one. I’m talking about something that will last longer than a Kim Kardashian relationship. I’m talking about your social media brand and its engagement with your target audience. Are you engaged?
As a brand evangelist, I talk to companies and “take their social media temperature”. And I’m constantly surprised by two common flaws most businesses have with regards to their social media strategy. One, they are on Facebook, Twitter, etc. because “they know they have to be” but don’t have a plan. And two, they have a plan but it’s the same plan they use for traditional media outlets (radio, tv, print).
Stop making awareness your end game. Many companies want to be “top of mind” when it comes to a customer making a purchase. That’s a smart plan. But having an audience aware of who you are is not enough anymore. Being “top of mind” used to mean an inescapable avalanche of brand exposure. Now, it means you’ve been lost in the noise. Imagine Times Square in New York City. The sheer number of advertisements you see resembles that of a car in NASCAR. There are so many ads, they cancel each other out. It’s a one-way conversation with little engagement.
The world of social media is Times Square on crack. Everyone is connected. Everything is connected. Every. Brand. Making an audience aware of who you are is not only simple, it can simply be purchased. But a bought social media presence will be short-lived and will probably cause more harm than good.
So, without spending a fortune on a diamond and taking a knee, follow along to these simple steps to “get engaged”.
1. Define your target audience. You’ve got a lot to share. Who do you most want to share it with? If you don’t know who you want to talk to, you shouldn’t be speaking. Most companies have this down to a science. But, if you’re not sure – figure it out before you send your first tweet. Oh, and once you are ready to talk you should be prepare to…
2. Learn a New Language. This is one of the most common mistakes companies make with social media. They see the word “free” and think Facebook and Twitter should be used to broadcast carbon copies of their print/tv/radio advertisements. Congratulations, you’ve just become noise! To succeed in social media you must first realize that it is not only a different medium, it’s a different language. And if you can’t speak it, you’ll be as helpless as the stewardess in the movie Airplane. Once you’ve learned the language, listen before you speak so you can…
3. Identify The Lifestyle. Imagine you sell coffee and you’re at a business conference for Dunkin Donuts. All of the people here have a common thread – donuts. If you were to talk to them about coffee and nothing else, you would have a limited connection that would end quickly. So, stop and listen. What do donut eaters do besides eat donuts? What is important to their lifestyle? Mornings. Traffic. Policemen. Breakfast. And yes…Coffee. The point: The content you provide via social media should be aimed at what most closely relates to your target audience’s lifestyle and not solely be about your product or service. You have to become a provider of content, not commercials. If you’ve listened and done your research this becomes the filter through which you should broadcast. Then you can…
4. Analyze What Works. Repeat. Learning what to say and how to say it isn’t the final step. Good social media strategists can sift through the playbook you’ve been using to broadcast to find you the power plays. The delivery method you use is just as important as the content itself. Questions, Polls, Videos, Blogs, the list goes on and on. Dig for what works and then feature that method on a consistent basis. Here’s the catch. It changes. Like the coach of a good football team, you may have the best running back in the game, but if you play against the best run defense…you’re going to have to find a new way to move the ball. Be ready to adjust based on your analytics.
So, in many ways, it really is like a true engagement/marriage. Learn who you want to speak with, how to talk with them, listen to what they want, and then repeat what gets you the most positive results. Follow these steps and your “engagement” should produce a long lasting and loyal marriage between you and your audience. Please, for everyone’s sake, have an open bar at the reception.