Landing your social media messages with impact

One of the great skills of marketing is targeting.

Understanding our audiences and producing campaigns or materials which land with impact.

It is, after all, the job of marketing to cause something. And with budgets increasingly stretched, it’s important we spend money where we achieve greatest effect.

Yet often with social media, we move into broadcast mode and disregard targeting altogether.

Rather than thinking about our audiences we revert to the maxim that something will land with someone. We have no control over who chooses to follow us, so it’s a logical conclusion to draw.

But could we target our social media more effectively to increase our chances of success?

We think so.

By having a simple social media strategy (ideally linked to the marketing strategy) you can assure yourself you’re getting best value from your efforts.

So here are three strategic considerations for planning your social media content:

1.) Who are my audiences?

When you’re an organisation with a broad customer base, it’s easy to lump everyone together as ‘customers or stakeholders’. But dig a little deeper and you may find your customers can be segmented to make content more relevant to each group. Take a business which supports four different products in four different categories. By tweeting as one company, you can be assured that 75% of all content is irrelevant to the audience. By contrast, creating four separate accounts or channels (one for each category), ensures relevant content for each audience. A great example of this is Whitbread plc. The core Whitbread twitter feed is clearly targeted at investors and press. Whereas Twitter feeds for the group’s brands (Costa, Premier Inn, Beefeater, etc) are aimed at consumers of those brands, as well as handling customer feedback. Managing multiple accounts requires a little extra planning but is greatly aided by tools like Hootsuite. It never hurts to spend time defining your audience.

2.) What do my audiences want?

Once defined, the next consideration is your audience’s motivations and expectations. Ask yourself, why would someone follow us? And from this very simple premise start to map out your content accordingly. It’s easy to fall back on broadcasting what you want to say, rather than what the audience would like to hear. Regularly, of course, these will correspond. But an open mind might lead you to a better result. Take an example of a designer lighting brand. As the brand owner, you want your consumers to know you produce and sell residential designer lighting. You therefore know your target followers are looking for great designer items for their homes. So, one option is to create a social feed which provides interior designer advice and ideas. Within this you can include not just your lighting but also general use of light, colour, furnishings, décor, etc. Chances are you’ve increased your reach, the likelihood of engagement and the value your followers place in your content. Of course, you may also need a customer support feed (see above).

3.) How will I measure success?

Acquiring followers, positive mentions, reach – these are now doubtless core KPIs for the social media team. The more sophisticated will also have tools to measure and evaluate engagement levels and visitor tracking. But take a step back. With a clear picture of the audience and their needs, defining criteria for success is more than just a numbers game. If the aim was to provide a customer support desk (and social media is an increasing medium of choice for complaints) then your measures are the same as any other customer service function. If your goal is to generate sales, then social media tracking (from feed to website to order) is essential. If it’s ‘social credibility’ you’re after, then a following like Manchester United is possibly all you need. Don’t be too dismissive of those who decry your numbers as meaningless. A wide following means wide awareness. And publicity may be no bad thing. But you must ensure you know what success looks like before you can measure it.

What does the above guidance tell us?

That the core strategies behind any effective marketing effort still apply to social media. There are new tools and technologies, for sure. But the basic questions remain:

Who do we want to talk to?

What do they want to hear?

How will we know if it worked?

Start here with your social strategy and you won’t go far wrong. And for more detailed guidance, drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch with one of the great specialists we recommend.