By: Tara Struyk
For many companies right now, using social media as part of their marketing strategy is a bit of a foregone conclusion. But according to a recent post by social media expert Brian Solis, companies don’t have a good sense of what they aim to accomplish through social media, or what their customers will get out of the deal.
Social Media’s Give and Take
That’s right – customers have to get something out of it too. In other words, they aren’t just going to take the time to tweet or “Like” a product because they’ve been asked to do so. In fact, consumers are getting so bombarded by such messages these days that it may be having the opposite of the intended effect. This phenomenon is called “follow fatigue” in social media users, and it actually decreases their interactions with companies and other organizations online.
For companies who are looking to improve their social media marketing model, it’s important to understand where the value in this type of marketing actually comes from. Many companies seem to use their Facebook or Twitter pages as a billboard.
The problem with this is that there is no interactivity. In other words, it’s not social. And, unlike a billboard, potential customers won’t even see a company’s message if that company fails to engage them. This means that companies need to give their potential followers a reason to engage.
This might mean promoting and providing unique content, prizes, deals or features for followers. Consumers need incentives. Otherwise, marketers are just asking them to agree to be bombarded by marketing while receiving nothing in return.
Why People Should Like Your Business
Understanding how a business should leverage its social media presence can be simplified by comparing it to how people use social media in their personal lives. For example, my personal Facebook page is essentially a form of person public relations. I post pictures that I feel are flattering, write comments I believe that my friends will find funny or clever and join groups that say something about the kind of person I am. Facebook is essentially a platform for promoting a version of myself.
Companies, therefore, should think about what version of themselves they want to promote through social media and how they can connect to their customers. For example, in 2009, Mountain Dew used social media to poll followers on what new flavor they’d like the company to create. The flavors were chosen and tested by fans, and the winning flavor, Mountain Dew Throwback, was even marketed largely through social media. This project succeeded for Mountain Dew by creating exposure and producing loyalty among customers. The social media-based nature of the campaign also helped the company create a lot of word-of-mouth buzz. The company has continued to run the campaign for new flavors on a regular basis.
Creating a successful social media campaign isn’t as easy as just adding social media buttons to your website or asking customers to “Like”, follow or Google+ you. In fact, the first and most important step comes before this and involves looking at what the company can offer its customers through social media and how it can keep them engaged.