The article was originally published by Marketing Dive @ marketingdive.com
Social media is no longer in its infancy. People have developed channel-specific norms, indicating a maturation of where social media sits in their minds, and younger generations have grown up with social media as part of the fabric of their lives. So brands wishing to benefit from social media marketing need to dive deep into understanding what it is, the people behind the accounts, and how to evolve strategies as social media use continues to evolve.
Beyond serving as a place to promote a brand’s name and products, social media is an avenue for reaching people to communicate their hopes, fears, insecurities, opinions, and more. Here’s how to focus on the right metrics, empathize with your audience, and strategize for social.
To some, social media is still seen as an add-on to marketing efforts that can be picked up ad hoc and used in a vacuum separate from other efforts. It’s seen as a way to get a quick win from the masses, and it’s expected that if a brand posts on social media, the content will go viral. That follower count is the single most important indicator of achievement—that brands can simply identify the youngest employee at the company and they will automatically know how to succeed on social media—and that one size fits all when it comes to applying the same social strategy across each platform.
Sometimes these viewpoints arise when a company has few resources to spend on social media marketing, whether that’s in terms of people power, budget, or time. While surmounting the challenge of pulling off a comprehensive social media strategy can seem intimidating, brands—even when strapped for resources—can shift their approach to social media and make meaningful changes.
One outdated idea about social media still seems to live on, and is perpetuated by a desire to find a quick-fix marketing solution: Follower count is the most important indicator of success. But there’s a more nuanced way of looking at metrics that can steer brands closer to success.
Your most important key performance indicators (KPIs) depend on your social media goals, which depend on your business goals. The KPIs can go as deep as you want, ranging from “views” to “number of people categorized as user persona A who follow up after engaging with a particular type of content that I publish.” In general, three metrics serve as typical starters: engagements, impressions, and followers. These affect each other in a chicken-and-egg quandary with no one metric leading the way.
Social media is not a bulletin board for broadcasting self-promotional messages. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s a place for conversation that’s not just “me me me me,” but instead an even mix of brand-specific and topic-specific content. Treat your social presence as if it were a real human being with a clear voice and persona.
Social media is a way to reach people with real, complex lives, personalities, and outlooks. And the way to reach, persuade, and leave an impression on social media users is to understand them and respond to them in a way that engages them. It goes back to basics: If you’re trying to persuade someone of something, it helps to know things about that person so that you can find common ground and build trust without simply imposing your viewpoint on them.
So how do you conceptualize your target audience on social media and begin treating them like real people, as opposed to a set of usernames? Empathy.
Gone are the days when you could simply create a Twitter account, post ad hoc updates about your company’s product, and expect a big reaction. In fact, those days never truly existed. That kind of approach to social media may have worked for a brand that already had an emotional connection with its fans pre-social media, but if you spend effort strategizing for the other aspects of your marketing, you should be strategizing for social media too.
So how do you strategize for social media?
When done correctly, organic social media can do so much more for your company than make you look cool. You can build a loyal fan base who will serve as brand advocates. You will have a platform to help express your views on the regular day to day. You can use organic social to express your brand voice in exciting ways. Once you take the time to treat social media like the integral part of your marketing plan that it is, your audience will notice and reward you for it.