Social Media Strategy – Start with the why

This is a two-part blog written by Kinda Jackson, Digital MD and Armand David at Brands2Life  You can read them in either order! The other blog, on “Symptoms your social media strategy needs a refresh”, can be found here.

Simon Sinek’s “Start with the why” talk has become part of the pantheon of marketing wisdom. However you feel about it, there’s a degree of truth to the necessity of purpose in articulating your brand story, something our corporate colleagues have written at length about.

When considering a social media strategy, more brands need to start with the why. “Because it’s there”, is not enough. “Because our competitors are doing it,” is likewise insufficient. The why is not just a functional thing – it sets your aspiration for the type of social communications you will end up doing. For example – are you there to broadcast your news? Are you really prepared – organisationally and culturally – to engage your community in a dialogue? Are you primarily using it to field customer service enquiries? Or are you going to try to use it as a place for brand advocacy by engaging with your customers and staff?

Social is no longer the place for ‘wing it and see’; reputations can be built up and badly damaged through good or bad social engagement. Long gone are the days where the intern could just write a post, stick it on FB & Twitter and expect a response.

Today’s social media users

Today’s social media users are time & attention span poor (we now officially have shorter attention spans than a goldfish). They are advertising sceptics, critical and outspoken, not scared of sharing their views. Most importantly they are bored and needing of entertainment, enlightenment and education. Brands need to have a reason to be on social – a clear purpose. People on social media aren’t really looking to brands to provide all of the above – they’re on social media for their friends and community. Becoming a part of this as a brand takes considerable thought and effort.

Social media must not be seen as an isolated channel or marketing activity, but an ongoing conversation is occurring whether brands participate or not. A social purpose allows brands to own the dialogue with their target audience and customers in a way that initiates a response.

Shaping your social media purpose

To find your social media purpose you need to consider the following:

What are your business objectives?

Are you looking to humanise your brand, change perceptions, connect with your customers? Are you looking to drive sales, be a thought leader or provide top class customer service? What are your business challenges and how do you see social overcoming them? Define the role of social for your business by asking these questions first.

Who are your audience on social channels?

Understand that they will not be one homogenous group but have different interests, lifestages and motivations to engage. “We want to target millennials” – Millennials are not young people (22-37) and of course that is just an age group, not a meaningful customer segment. Taking the time and research to understand the nuances of your audience is essential if you want to start a conversation with them. You wouldn’t go on a date with someone from Tinder if their profile or your early conversations with them gave you no indication that you’d be a good match, so why would you expect a customer to engage with your brand without the same?

Where on social are your audience?

Understanding that your audience will use different channels for different reasons. Twitter is increasingly a news source (categorised as such on the Apple Appstore.).

Establishing an approach to community management

In order to ‘humanise’ your brand on social you need to act like a human on social. If you spoke to someone in real life and they ignored you, well… that’s just rude. If you want to be part of a conversation, then you need to be a part of the conversation. If you want to join the party, you need to find the party and be a part of it, and not feel like an uninvited guest. So how do you do this? Always-on social monitoring. Social monitoring allows you to:

  • Spot trends and changes in your audience’s conversations so that you can adjust your strategy & content to meet their needs
  • Find conversations you can join or emergent memes you might have scope to engage with
  • Be reactive, topical and relevant to real time conversations
  • Keep an eye on what the competition are doing, don’t be fooled, they are watching you at all times, you can’t afford not to be watching them…
  • Get ahead and put out a potential fire before it escalates, think of social listening as your smoke detector
  • Respond to posts, comments, replies, mentions in a timely manner. If you don’t have a clear voice on social, then what’s the point?

A tight loop between community and effective social media management

Your community and your social media purpose are inherently interlinked. What you’re there to do with and for them is entirely contingent on who they are and what they’re into. If, as a brand, you’re seeing lower engagement than you hoped for, or any of these other symptoms, well, then it may be time to review and reassess your social strategy.