I have spent over three years in the Middle East talking to CEOs, CIOs, VPs of Marketing, and others about why they need to invest in smart social strategies for their businesses. Time and again, I think that social media has gotten a bad reputation in this region for not delivering business impact, because companies focused on measures of success that frankly do not really drive business results. Size really doesn’t matter when it comes to communities, and frequency of content doesn’t matter when no one is listening.
Social media marketing is the art of connecting people to brands through understanding what motivates people to connect together, share experiences and become vocal, loyal advocates of a brand that over time delivers what I call the three magic Rs that every social marketer tries to achieve. If you remember one thing from reading this article I hope it’s the three magic Rs of Review, Recommend and Refer– if your social media is actively focused on delivering those three key behaviors, you will ultimately create advocacy, loyalty and purchase behavior over time.
Intimate Understanding Of Your Customer
Social media marketing allows brands and companies to get really close to the people they’re trying to sell to. This means that if you’re smart and you are closely listening to what is being said about you on the social web, either on your community pages or off of those owned channels, you can start to really understand what makes your particular audience tick. Further, with the data available to us through social channels like Facebook, we know a lot about what they like, what they don’t, and what motivates and matters to them. If you want to connect with people here in the Middle East now, you need to show that you’re paying attention to all this information that they share on social channels, and apply it to R&D and marketing communications offline.
Increase Brand Recognition Through Relevant Storytelling
So what are the opportunities for people wanting to understand the value and significance of social media marketing? First of all, at a time when most people have an attention span less than that of a goldfish, social media allows you to have a creative idea that you can share in five seconds. Getting your consumers’ attention is not enough though- what social media should do is facilitate a dialogue, which gets them to share your brand and company stories. Your consumer is no longer paying any attention to outdoor or more traditional media. Remember, the majority of the population in the Gulf is below 30 years of age- this means they live their lives off Instagram, Snapchat and BuzzFeed.
Brands on social have more loyal customers
It goes without saying that if you start to know more about a person or individual, then you start to understand them better and are more likely to be loyal to that person. This is the same case with social media marketing– if you follow the principles that you share, you have a personality and can talk like a real person to the community that you are building and sharing information with, then they are much more likely to become loyal fans and customers of the brand, and yes, data indeed backs this up.
You Become More Responsive
Whether you like it or not, we live in a fast-paced environment where people expect customer service to be delivered in minutes rather than days. They go to social channels to talk to brands and share their points of view with you in real time. This shouldn’t be something you shy away from- in fact, brands that don’t have a social presence because they’re scared of what their customers might say are missing the point. You have an opportunity to turn a hater into a lover, and often all it takes is a simple acknowledgement of the issue and to say you’re listening, and that you’re going to help them to dampen the fire of anger. Social CRM is a vital part of customer care, and it’s important that you see the opportunity in managing angry customers and turning them into advocates instead. Social should be a personal experience that brings positive relationships to deliver value.
Social content, thanks to its ability to create movements and global conversations regardless of race, religion or age, has started to become highly indexed by Google and other search engines. Social content, and video in particular, is very important in delivering this for your brand or business.
Increased Inbound Traffic
Without social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand, and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor. The more quality content you syndicate on social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate, and more traffic means more leads and more conversions.
Social Media Is Great Value
When compared to TV, print and outdoor media, the ROI on social media and social media advertising in particular is much higher than traditional media. Further, you can start small and see what works best for your brand and your services and see what sticks. The main goal is to really drive traffic.
The outlined points are a few of the opportunities in social media marketing and communications- but what about the potential pitfalls that you could come across when doing the same? For me, the biggest pitfall is not being present on social media simply because you can’t understand it, or because you don’t want to open up to potential criticism about your business. But ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you a secret: people are already talking about your business on social media- you just aren’t aware of it, or are not managing your social reputation effectively. Other top pitfalls include:
Diving Straight In
Rushing to launch a social media channel is akin to rushing into a pregnancy. You can’t get half-pregnant with social media– you’re either in, or you’re not, and so it pays off to invest time in planning it properly, investing in listening to what people are saying and what others are doing before embarking on launching any channels. Those that do this reap the benefits quicker and more efficiently than those that don’t.
Focus (Or The Lack Of It)
When doing social media, it is not necessary to invest in all of the major platforms. Pick one that is right for you and your budget. With Facebook being a socially powered advertising platform, you might want to invest in Snapchat or Instagram, which require less media investment to drive awareness, reach and impact of your content.
Quality Over Quantity
Social media is not a volume game or business. I spend a lot of conversations with clients trying to help them understand that apart from customer care, the frequency of engagement on social platforms should focus on quality rather than quantity. No one likes the guy at the party who doesn’t listen and has no emotional intelligence to gauge that others are either bored of his continued monologue, or that they haven’t even heard a word he’s said. Social media marketing is exactly the same, although people nowadays are less tolerant and patience with what I call social vomit.
Lack Of Consistency
Ever had a boss or a friend whose temperament you could never forecast? If you have, then you’ll be acutely aware of the impact that lack of consistency can have on your mood, day and life. Brands that aren’t consistent cause people to lose interest very quickly.
Interns Are Not The Solution
Social media marketing is an art and a science, and it’s one that is learned through analysis, reading and education. Interns are fantastic for bringing in fresh ideas and new perspectives, but they should not be responsible for posting and managing communities online, because that would be akin to them turning up at a conference and delivering the keynote speech.
Measurement and analytics are part and parcel of anyone who works in the online, connected world in which we live now. It is simply not acceptable to not track KPIs, metrics and results of the work we do. So be sure to keep a close eye on your social media analytics such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Page Statistics and Iconosquare to help you track the efficacy of your investment. There are also tons of third party social media tracking tools out there to help you measure the success of your social media and gain additional insights as well.