It’s got to the point where social media is one of those things that every business just has to have, like a phone, or a front door. But how do you go about it? Whenever people start talking about social media marketing they’ll start using words like “viral” or “interactivity” or “engaging” without ever taking the moment to say what they mean.
So, let’s throw all that out of the window for now, and look at the six fundamental questions any person must ask before they start their social media campaign.
Q1: What do your customers use the internet for?
Different groups of people use the Internet in different ways. For instance, I’m a freelance writer who works from home, so I use the Internet to promote my own work, make connections that will help me find new work, look at funny websites when I’m skiving off work, and interact with my friends when I get bored of sitting on my own at work.
My flatmate uses it mainly for keeping up with her family members back home and looking at bags she would quite like buy. An old school friend seems to use it to send me constant invitations to play gangster, pirate, farm or gem mining games, and my grandma uses to wonder why her grandson’s Facebook profile is little more than my name written next to a photograph of my face, because I swear and talk about drinking on my Facebook profile a lot and there’s no reason my grandma should know about that.
Much like my grandma, your customers will have their own online behavioural habits. If you’re targeting a young demographic, they’re probably extremely socially active online and enjoy sharing things they find interesting across a variety of networks. On the other hand, if you’re targeting an older market they may just use the bare minimum of online services.
Q2: What do your customer’s profiles look like?
Once you know what your customer is using the Internet for you need to know how to recognise them. What sort of sites are they already visiting? Are they going to be looking for things using search engines, word of mouth or social media?
Are your online customers any different from the customers you deal with offline? If so, how are they different?
Q3: How do we let those customers find us?
Now you know who your customers are and how they’re using the Internet you need to get to what may be the hardest question to answer: How do you make sure the customers find you? Is it best t reach them through phone apps, twitter accounts, or getting their friends to “like” you on facebook?
Is your audience the type of people who would check out a QR code if they saw one, or would they be confused/irritated by it? A subset of this question is:
Q4: What type of content are you customers looking?
In many ways this relates to question one. Are your customers people who practically live online, casually surfing for hours to see if they can find anything interesting? Or do they use the Internet for far more functional things, going online only when they need something and logging off as soon as they’re done?
At what point in this process do your customers use social media? Are you going to use social media simply to advertise to your customers, or are they going to want to use your Facebook and Twitter account to give you feedback and maybe even receive after-sales support?
Q5: What opportunities does this give you?
This is the point where it’s time to translate what you know about your customers into practical solutions. Do the customers, whose needs and behaviour you should have a pretty good picture of right now, have any particular need that currently is being met? Is it a need you can move to fill? This is where social media becomes invaluable. By properly talking to your customers you can get them to give you your best ideas. That’s how you turns a vague concept like “engagement” into a much easier to understand word like “sales”.
Q6: What Do Your Customers Say About You and Your Competitors Behind Your Back?
Of course one of the social media jobs that is most useful is using it to see what people are saying about you as well as to you. Hashtags on twitter, for instance, let you see what people are saying about your market place.
Customers who are please or angry with a service will often use the company’s @name when talking about it on Twitter, and checking out your competition’s Facebook page is a great way to see where they are falling short and you might be able to beat them to the punch.
About the Author
This post is contributed by Sam Wright who is a freelance writer and SEO specialist who has organised a number of social media campaigns.