Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Social Media – The 5 Questions to Ask Before Jumping In


social mediaSocial media’s development as a marketing tool for business has fundamentally changed the way businesses communicate with their consumers and customers. The pace of this change and the choices of tools and measurements are surprising most marketers. 

Most businesses have jumped into social media to some extent with very mixed results. The challenge they find is that building communities and fostering open dialogue takes a major commitment of time with few visible results. While it is much less expensive (in many cases free) for a business to post online, it can be a waste of time if not considered correctly.

Before beginning any social media marketing, it is important to answer the following five questions:

  1. What does your brand stand for? It is important to define the unique selling proposition (USP) that that will define all communications.  
  2. What is the consumer insight for your brand? Consumers purchase brands to solve a need. The insight is the situational and emotional struggle that the brand will solve. Understanding this need provides the groundwork for developing a compelling message and knowing when and how to share this message.  
  3. How does your target audience use media overall? Most consumers are adding social on top of traditional media rather than replacing it. For some targets, especially small business owners and B2B, social media consumption is much lighter than average. 
  4. What result do you desire from social media? All activity should help grow sales. Jason Falls, noted social media author, says there are seven business-driving-goals of social media:
    • Enhanced branding and awareness,
    • Protecting your reputation
    • Enhancing public relations
    • Improving customer service
    • Creating communities
    • Facilitating research and development
    • Driving sales leads

Choose the one or two goals that make sense for your firm

  1. Do you seriously have the time and resource to invest in building a presence? – Social media requires developing content, and starting and building discussions that eventually build a community.  

It is important to try new approaches to see what works best. Responses happen in real time and programs can be adjusted quickly. Then track and validate. As in any marketing plan, it is important to find the most meaningful measurements.  As skeptics abound, marketers will need case studies and in-market results that will keep companies from giving up too soon.  Embrace social media, but remember that it is just another opportunity to delight your consumer target.

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