Social Media Marketing expert Rebecca Clarke talks how businesses can leverage social media as key channel to reaching their customers.
How is an investment in social media marketing becoming more of a necessity in a business’s digital marketing portfolio?
Social media can be hard to sell and proving the value of social for a brand can be difficult. In my opinion, it is necessary to invest in social media to complete a business’s digital marketing portfolio. There are many different digital marketing service offerings that can drive conversions for a business. SEO, SEM, and display advertising are some examples of these digital marketing service offerings that a brand may have in their digital marketing portfolio. These days, more and more brands are investing in social media because they are beginning to recognize the need for a seamless, holistic digital brand experience by the end user. While investing in social media helps target your audience to drive engagement and increase brand awareness, the real results and value in terms of sales, and/or brand advocacy, become apparent when social media is invested in as a part of an overall digital marketing strategy for a brand, where each service offering operates seamlessly and not in silos. If a brand is seeking (and should be seeking) to drive online conversions, and increase online brand awareness, then owning a robust,holistic digital marketing portfolio is imperative for a business and brand, and social media is most definitely an integral part of that portfolio.
How are image-centric social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat becoming more strategic for businesses?
It depends on the business. Yes, for many businesses these days particularly retail, channels like instagram are proving popular and make sense for a business to have a brand presence. However, it’s important to take a step back when developing a social strategy for the business and ask three primary questions. 1) Does having a presence on an image-centric platform (like the ones mentioned above), help achieve the defined business goals for the brand? 2) Does the target audience play on this channel? 3) Will the creation of a social strategy on this particular channel allow content (visual or text) to align with the overall brand image for that company? If the answers to these three questions are yes, then these image-centric social networks can be strategic for a business. It is crucial, however to remember, especially as a consultant, and/or a digital marketer to never recommend a business be present on a social channel simply because it is “popular’ at the time. The recommendation should always makes sense to the brand and their primary business objectives for requesting a social media strategy.
What is best practice for how brands should communicate with their users across social channels? Does the nature of this communication differ across different channels or industry?
Absolutely. Communication should and will always differ across each social channel. Why? People often forget that the creation of certain social platforms were founded for different reasons. LinkedIn was created for recruiting and career purposes, while Facebook in the early days was created so college students could learn more about each other’s lives. While each social channel has grown since creation and, social advertising has arguably had a huge impact on the communication style between a brand and a customer, there is no doubt that different audiences play on different social channels. Therefore, as a best practice, a brand must adopt their communication style in each space. Through Identifying who the audience is and why they are present on a particular social platform, and noting what the culture of said social platform is, this should help a brand define their communication style. What is important however, is to ensure that regardless of the platform and the target audience, the communication should align with the brand and the overall business objective/reason that the brand is communicating on that channel in the first place.
What are some of the most important tactics in developing strong brand communities on social channels?
Brand loyalty is something which all businesses strive for, and one of the many ways in which this can be achieved is by creating a strong brand community in the social space. Some of the most important tactics to develop a robust brand community stem from developing a strong brand identity, and thereafter having the ability to project this identity across various social channels in an authentic and genuine manner. The relationship between a brand and the community should be considered the similar to the relationship and interactions between two humans. It requires appreciation and nurturing. While this may seem obvious, it is important from a branding perspective to take a step back and ask the question, why do we want to do this?The goal should be to create a brand community that fosters loyal brand advocates. These advocates will eventually serve as key influencers for future social media campaigns to drive engagement, and increase brand awareness. While developing the community may take some time and effort, from the brand perspective, it is important to focus on the longer term benefits of creating this brand community.
How do you see an increase in social analytics platforms (e.g. Twitter and Pinterest analytics dashboards) developing social media strategy for businesses in the future?
I don’t. While all social analytics provide valuable insights, platforms like Twitter and Pinterest do not offer developed and robust analytics dashboards. In order to develop a truly robust social media strategy for a business, you have to assess the business needs as a whole. Usually, or at least in my experience, a business seeking to increase their presence on social media, will need a community management tool that offers collective data analytics and insights across all social channels that the brand is present on. The community manager will need to pull reports and collect insights on the performance of the brand across each channel, relative to the competitor, relative to last months performance. These reports are usually presented to leadership and thus need to be clear, concise, in depth, robust dashboards. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest all offer basic analytics, but these dashboards are silo’d and specific to their own platform. In order to create a valuable social strategy, a community management/social media monitoring tool assessment is usually required, and it is from this tooling recommendation that the true value of social analytics is derived