Are you confused by the ever changing world of social media? As a marketing professional or business owner, do you receive a constant stream of advice on how to “Facebook this” or “Instagram that” and you don’t know which way to turn?

Ever wish the social media world could just be demystified so you can develop a more effective, even simple game plan going forward?

Well, the BLM team is here to help!

The one consistent myth we’ve heard over the years is “social media is a whole new way to do marketing” and therefore, most people don’t know where to get started. The truth, simply put, is that social media is a collection of interactive media channels through which it’s become fundamentally simpler to deliver relevant and engaging content to your target audience. But while it might sound simple, it’s not easy to develop the “right” content in the “right” form, and then deliver it through the “right” social networks to reach your target audience.

As with any media plan, which might include digital (paid search, SEO, retargeting, etc.), broadcast (TV, radio, etc.), print (consumer and trade) or out-of-home (billboard, transit, etc.), social networks need to be carefully analyzed and planned to maximize their effectiveness and efficiency. And remember, all your communication, regardless of channel, must work together to reinforce your brand message. Nevertheless, the fundamentals of media 101 still apply to social media. And here is a reminder of some of those fundamentals:

  • Clearly define your target audience and determine which social networks will be most effective and efficient at reaching them. For example, a strong consumer brand like Red Bull is likely going to reach their younger, active audience on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat; a strong B2B brand like Cisco is more likely going to reach their manager audience on LinkedIn and YouTube. You can even employ traditional media metrics such as reach and frequency as some networks, particularly Facebook, help you determine how many of your target audience members are on their networks on a regular basis.
  • Understand which social media networks your target audience uses to seek information about products and services like yours. (see Red Bull and Cisco comments above). And look across your industry to see if competitors are successfully engaging customer in new(er) social media networks (e.g. Pinterest, Snap Chat, etc. vs. Facebook), and try to understand why.
  • Build a media plan with the optimal mix of social networks to achieve your reach and frequency goals. If your target audience tends to participate in more than one social network, then your brand needs to be there as well. Within reason of course, as managing each network needs the appropriate level of resources – human and dollar — to execute well. A big myth companies mistakenly embrace is that social media is cheap, free and can be done by an intern. Social media requires thoughtful planning, dedicated, skilled management and the regular creation of relevant content. While this doesn’t need to be overly expensive, it is neither cheap nor free. And you have to think of the role each social network plays in enhancing your brand voice.

Once you’ve developed your media plan based on which social networks will help you best reach your target audience, you need to make sure you have great content to distribute through these channels. Much like a great 30-second commercial for TV, 60-second ad for radio, magazine ad for print or billboard for out-of-home, the right content in the right form is required to execute an effective social media campaign.

So, how do you develop the right content? This gets back to something we’ve discussed in many of our blogs…it all starts with developing a fundamentally sound brand strategy. It begins with gaining a deep understanding of your customers and your competition to understand what truly differentiates your product or service in a meaningful way. And then creating written and visual stories that will resonate with your customers, motivating them to act! (see recent BLM blog on brand storytelling)

Social media content comes in many forms including blogs, videos, images, status updates, tweets and basic posts. It’s important to determine which forms, through which networks, will present your brand in the most compelling and powerful light. So choose wisely.

There you have it…that wasn’t so complicated was it? 10-15 years ago, people used to say that e-commerce was a “whole new way of doing business” when all it turned out to be is an incredibly efficient and measurable direct response channel. We hope you’ve learned that social media is not a “whole new way to do marketing”, but rather it’s just a highly interactive media channel that, if planned and executed correctly, has the ability to engage and motivate your customers in ways no other media channel can.

That’s our take…let us know what you think!

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