Over the past few years social media has grown in importance for any marketing campaign. From 2012 to 2013 Twitter grow over 44% while Facebook grew over 23% in monthly active users. To put this in perspective, that is approximately 150 million new users combined on Twitter and Facebook (see infographic below provided by Search Engine Journal).
Despite this tremendous jump in numbers, most marketers and brands still struggle to figure out how to effectively use social media to drive customer engagement and ultimately revenue.Why is this? Well, I think mostly because it is not easy. It takes strategy, planning and time. It is also difficult to track an accurate ROI. According to an Adobe survey, 52% of marketers cite difficulties in accurately measuring ROI as their biggest source of frustration in social marketing.” A well thought out and executed social media strategy must be for the long term and marketers are still used to immediate results to measure campaign effectiveness.
So what does a solid social media strategy look like heading into 2015?
In my opinion a great social media strategy will include or accomplish these 5 things:
- Customer centricity
- Educational and helpful content
- Planning and top notch execution
- Networking and relationships
- Engaging imagery and/or statistics
The bottom line is that by connecting with customers and other influencers alike within an industry a brand will be able to build up their own influencer level while leveraging other influencers’ networks to help in promotion. By offering engaging and educational content a brand will build their own trust and authority levels which can lead to social sharing and virtual word-of-mouth promotion among customer networks. This is where many marketers fall short however. Most still set scheduled posts or auto-post blog feeds to Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook. This used to be a great solution for those that did not have the time to really dive into social media. Now this strategy can hurt a brand more than help it. Social buyers are more saavy than they were just a few years ago and can spot these types of self-serving posts that really have no thought or value behind them. Social media posts that offer insightful education and have a purpose behind them to help solve customer problems will engage the target audience more often than anything else. Ultimately this strategy will result in the desired outcomes of any marketer.
Creating a social media strategy that works is by no means easy. It takes hard work, endurance and the drive to try again after failure. Fortunately, marketers are resiliant and each one will figure out how to leverage social media for their own market and brand eventually. It may take some longer than others. But as anything else, it just takes some time, planning and a little trial and error.
What have been some of your challenges with social media and what are you doing to overcome them to drive customer engagement?