Social Marketing: Leveraging Social Media’s Cornucopia-net
I have a café. I need to get into social marketing. Where do I start?
It’s true that there are a bunch of apparently dominant big names in social marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube (which has been in Google’s hands for some time, don’t forget), and all the other usual suspects. But it’s a lot more granular than that. Each site does things a little differently (a good comparison is China’s WeChat versus Messenger, the former wins by a mile).
Facebook is completist and immersive, a wide-angled approach to maintaining and expanding your network. Twitter is bird-brained, cacophonous, endless. Pinterest is wild and diverse, jungly. Other sites, such as Instagram, are great troves of imagery, with a mind-altering 52 million images uploaded each day. Yes, each day.
There are countless blogs and communities on the internet, serving enthusiasts of every stripe. 72 percent of internet users use a social network of some kind. Everything from mustache appreciation clubs to spinning and weaving yarn. Social marketing blog for virtual assistants? Certainly. Something crazy like Internet Radio station’s advertising? Let’s see. Yup, here.
What this diversity impels us to do is choose our own profiles, and thus our own group of peers. Ones that fit what we’re trying to do. In fact, what de Tocqueville called ‘the associations that are formed in civil life and which have an object that is in no way political.’ That was in 1835 when he was talking about civic society in the form of groups and associations of physical persons; now groups are open to worldwide membership through social media networks.
U-hunh. And do what?
As a business, one mode may be of more utility than another. For example, if you’re a fast-moving business news feed, you’ll have a penchant for Twitter. If you’re a beach bar in Lombok, you may opt for a more extensive presence on Facebook. Even TripAdvisor can be seen as a social network. At any rate, you want to make sure you’re accessible to mobile telephony, which is rapidly gaining in market share. Americans spent an average of 87 hours of the month of August 2016 browsing on a smartphone or tablet. That’s 3.63 days! In 2008 mobile took up 12 percent of time spent per adult per day with digital media. Laptops and desktops had 80 percent back then. By the end of the study in 2015, lappies and towers had 42 percent, mobiles 51 per cent. And, most of the time spent surfing on their smartphones was on social media! All of this means you MUST get into social marketing in order to expand the reach of your company to find new customers.
I think we can call that a major shift in behavior. It makes sense, after all: we don’t lug a laptop, however petite it may be, around all day and when we’re socializing. It’s merely part of the trend to utility. It’s also a ‘targetable’ shift for businesses because it’s feeding the growing market for mobile user-friendliness.
Need to check out the ‘hood.
Yep. Find out what’s fit for you by conning the field. Look wider than Facebook. You could do worse than look at new networks, such as Secret, WeChat (brilliant, very intuitive, way better than Messenger) or Medium. Anyway, you can start by thinking about whom your customers are and where they congregate on the Web. Facebook, which hosts all, may be worthy of your initial social marketing efforts. Be sure to spend some time investigating the various Facebook groups and only enter those where your potential customers hang out. For example, if you have a business selling mobility aids for seniors, you’ll find their virtual confraternity is different from the regulars at The Coronation Tap in England.
So you want what Wiki calls ‘e-word of mouth’, recommendations of your service (whether digital or real-world) on social media. A valuable commodity, seeing how many ‘rating sites’ there are…. And of course, the only way to ensure that happens is by providing a damned good service, the kind of service your customers want to tell their friends about because it would be doing them a good turn.
Stay active but don’t push it: letting the wave hit the beach
It is vital to understand how this works. People don’t take to being pushed with reminders or anything. Just make sure the option to ‘like’ your business is…around. Use a QR code for example, next to the tips jar if you have a cocktail bar or beachside café.
E-word of mouth is unmanipulable (though you can respond wisely to negative reviews or press, as well as take advantage of the latter’s opposites). You can’t shut it down, good or bad, but you’re in the conversation, so you can make sure your side of things is part of the general mix.
Didn’t you also say something about waiting?
Yes. That’s because e-word of mouth takes time to build. Less time perhaps than physical, spit-spraying word of mouth, (significantly less so), but time nonetheless. Awareness has to translate into bums on seats, (or on cycling machine saddles if you’re a gym), and that may depend on when the potential customer is next in your area.
So it’s back to basics. No short cuts.
Correct. Getting the foot traffic from internet traffic is all about the very basics: i.e., providing the best service possible, to every customer, period. There’s no point in expecting good word of mouth of any kind if you’re operation is sloppy, or even aesthetically displeasing. Get your houseboat in order before launching yourself onto the social marketing ocean. The faster, more efficient, leaner, greener, more polite, more user-friendly, nicer to look at you are, the better. There are very long odds against your competitors with a web presence not being up with the program. So you have to come in with epoch-making service and velvety smooth user experience. Good luck. You’re up against some pretty strong competition.
I want to know about bad word of mouth. For my friend, you understand.
There’s only one thing to remember. Bad word of mouth travels significantly faster than good. So try to obviate it by sorting issues out on the spot (better to offer a couple a free meal with a bottle of wine than see their negative impressions on TripAdvisor. Even if they decline the offer, they’ll feel that you did your best to rectify any problem). Your aim should be to generate only good thoughts, positive impressions, warm appreciation of beyond-the-call-of-duty care, the joy that comes from finding a clever watch mender; a cheap old-school plumber with high standards; or a pool cleaner who doesn’t dawdle. That joy may be given by the ‘vicious burns’ of Tesco Mobile’s Twitter account or the thoughtful and info-packed contributions to Fatbirder. But it’s got to be given, and that depends on new content. Without increasingly frequent updates, blogs and social media accounts can lose readers as fast as you’d expect in our wired world. Lightning, in other words.
What if I can’t feed the Twitter monster 24/7?
It all adds up to somebody good being on the case. If you can’t monitor social media feeds (and update them with new material regularly and frequently, most importantly), you need to delegate the job to a capable, numerate, hard-working member of staff with good time-management skills. (Pay them a decent whack, too, as good social marketing managers are like pixie dust.)
Above all, you need a slick, functioning website, with many design hours invested in site look and feel on mobiles too. News organizations do splendidly, as exemplars of functionality. The Guardian, CNN, and others have free apps. We look at website stuff elsewhere: Check it out.
You can find out lots more about social media marketing here. I wanted to express some core principles as I see them, to enable readers to make good choices in an often unfamiliar virtual territory.
We’ll be writing a lot more about how best to use Social Media for your business. Enter your email address and first name below so you never miss an article. We’ll let you know every time we post something new.