Tips for getting social media marketing right

As more businesses invest more time and money into social media marketing (SMM), it’s important to understand not only the benefits but also the processes for planning and implementing a successful SMM campaign to maximise return on investment.

Businesses are embracing social media and social media marketing as part of their broader marketing strategies far more readily these days. This is encouraging to see, especially among corporates who are typically resistant to change and frequently have trouble adapting rather time-consuming and cumbersome bureaucratic processes to the relatively fast pace of the online environment.

Of course, there are challenges other than administration to overcome when it comes to social media. For a start, social media is about conversations and personalities. You are vying for your users’ attention – so if you don’t engage them with a really great personality or brand that they personally want to endorse – you’re going to get lost in the din and are losing out on potential “ambassadors”.

Social media has made the marketing maxim of telling believable stories even more important. One-way, push marketing communication is on its way out. This is now an attention economy, and in a world where time-starved customers are bombarded with marketing messages it’s hard to get through. Now that consumers can choose what they look at, do they want to look at and engage with you?

This buy-in is key to engaging with customers. Many would say that getting this kind of subscription comes down to authenticity and networking. This is true. However, to really get the most bang for your buck, the loop also needs to be closed when it comes to social media marketing and strategies need to be cleverly integrated across channels to create a ‘through-the-line’ approach that works.

This is the reason that many social media marketing campaigns are unsuccessful or not as effective as they could be. There needs to be not only follow-through, but also a cleverly integrated approach.

The easiest way to achieve this is by having a clear idea of where you want to go with your campaign – as well as define what your measurables are going to be before you start. It’s sometimes hard in some social media to predict exactly what will happen, as conversations tend to follow an organic flow. You can’t really force this. However, a clever social media marketer will be able to steer and lead conversations in such a way that they remain natural and unobtrusive.

Many web development and marketing companies now offer social media marketing as one of their services. While there are plenty of agencies and consultancies that do legitimately specialise in and have experience within the field, there are many who don’t. There are a number of common pit-falls – and where most fall short is in there execution and maintenance of these campaigns. It’s not just a case of creating a Facebook group and forgetting about it. The social media elements that one chooses to use need to be managed and maintained and relationships with customers need to be cultivated and grown.

What are the core factors in executing a successful social media marketing campaign?

First of all, decide what your story is. This is still at the core of effective marketing. Make sure it’s credible and one that your target market subscribe to. Make sure that you remain authentic.

Second, ensure that your goals and metrics are well defined. You need to have an idea of where you want to go with this campaign and how you intend to measure your success.

These two decisions will affect your third consideration – which is where you are going to find this audience. If you know who you’re trying to reach through social media – you’ll better be able to identify where they are online.

Finally, you need to be honest about whether your business is ready to be involved and invested. The process of social media marketing takes time and effort. You can’t just put up a Facebook fan page and create a Twitter account and call that a social media strategy. You need to ensure that you are invested. If you are not “socialising” though interaction and involvement with your community, you are not really present.

In this way, you will be able to listen to, respond to and influence your audience. When deciding to embark on a social media marketing strategy, it’s worth ensuring that whoever you choose to implement the campaign has the experience and foresight necessary to execute it fully and effectively.

AlterSage is an online marketing company based in Cape Town, South Africa. AlterSage specialises in creating and implementing bespoke online strategies for a range of clients from around the world. Services include social media marketing, pay per click campaign management and search engine optimisation.