Optimizing Social Media Marketing: The Good & Bad

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Social media marketing is becoming more & more important.

Social Media

is one of the most powerful tools at a marketer’s disposal. No other type of media platform provides instant access to millions of people around the globe with the efficiency that social media does. Used effectively, social media can greatly enhance the message and delivery of any marketing campaign to secure increased profitability. Creating value is after all the main purpose of any business function, including marketing and advertising.

Because social media is so prevalent in society, sometimes it’s easy to think that simply posting on an account will lead to a more effective campaign or increased traffic. Unfortunately, it’s not usually that simple. As with any other function of marketing there is a mix of faux pas and best practices that marketers should be aware of before jumping headlong into the social media mix.

Faux Pas

It always seems easier to list the “don’ts” associated with bad social media marketing tactics, partly because I’ve witnessed and had a hand in performing some of these faux pas. Thankfully there’s always a way to fix mistakes and I’ve used the ones I’ve made to improve my use and understanding of social media. I’ve identified five common faux pas you can see on social media every day. Identifying them will allow you to establish credibility and have more effective interaction with your audience.

1) Identity Crisis

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Avoid social media faux pas & take advantage of marketing’s best practices.

Nothing is worse than telling your audience you don’t know who they are. That’s an instant credibility killer and will immediately isolate the marketer from their audience. In 2013 Epicurious posted a series of tweets after the Boston Marathon Bombings trying to push their products in tandem with mentioning the terrible tragedy. The backlash from the public was immediate, deadly and instantly spawned numerous stories in major publications that greatly damaged the Epicurious brand.

2) Ignoring the Audience

This is one of the most common problems I’ve run into. When people see content they enjoy on a social media account their inclination is to either share or comment on the original content, expecting a reply. Ignoring interactions on social media destroys any chance of building a relationship with an audience and marketers risk alienating people who believe they aren’t valued by the brand or organization.

3) Unoriginal Content

Many marketers create one post that they then plaster across all social media accounts, regardless of the format, demographics or any other data. Being lazy will result in a much less productive marketing campaign on social media and the audience will notice the lack of effort. Posting the same content over and over again will just bore your audience to death and once you’ve killed the audience there’s no one left to market to.

4) Random Posting

Social media needs to be treated like any other media platform used in marketing; carefully planned out with optimization in mind. No one wants to hear what you had for lunch or see the latest photo of the new grandbaby. Social media acts as a representative of the brand’s image and as such should only utilize content that will express the values and message of the organization. Professionalism goes a long way towards success.                                                      

5) One Trick Pony

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Don’t let social media become a fail in your marketing strategy.

How many times have you followed an organization on Twitter or Facebook only to unfollow them two days later? I know I have, and it’s usually because every post is a parade of the exact same content. It usually goes something like this: “Check out our new article on marketing here” (insert link). Reading a post or tweet that conveys a hint of what’s to come is much better than reading one that simply announces new content.

Best Practices

Using social media is all about creating a conversation with the intended audience. Marketers can create limitless value for their brand by using social media well. Marketing pioneers like Mary Kay Ash realized that they needed to convey messages that would resonate with their audience and instigate an action such as a purchase, interaction or brand loyalty. The same is true for brands and organizations using social media.

Here are four elements to best practices I’ve learned in the past few years: engage with the audience, be meaningful, promote interaction and create a community. The first three all fall within the category of creating great content.

Great Content

One of the best things a brand or organization can do is to engage with their audience on a daily basis. Being consistent with engagement is essential because the audience will quickly become bored without new information or content.

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Engage the audience w/great content to build brand relationships in marketing.

Engaging the audience should take place by presenting meaningful content. If the audience doesn’t perceive a meaning relevant to their interests they will move on. Humor, emotional appeal, financial impact and many other meaningful methods can be used effectively on social media to captivate an audience. In 2014 @Butterfinger tweeted this great message to @TurboTax:

Not surprisingly their audience loved this tweet because they managed to combine humor with the two ingredients fans loved most about Butterfingers.

After engaging the audience with meaningful content interaction usually follows. Successful interaction requires two parties to converse. This usually takes place when the audience comments on or shares the original content, followed by a reply from the brand or organization generating the posts. Good interaction can show the audience they are valued by the brand, which can lead to greater brand loyalty.

On most social media platforms there is a very limited content capacity, so every word, image, video and soundbite needs to count. Great content must always be relevant. Keeping this in mind, creating great content can be accomplished several different ways; (1) surprise the audience, (2) use multimedia as much as possible, (3) present in a way that has emotional appeal and (4) be mysterious. People love to be surprised, especially with good news and sharing good news such as sales, giveaways or free information never hurts brand image. Using multimedia is becoming more essential every day, especially video. Current generations love to have a visual, so infographics, pictures and videos are a great way to capture their attention. Emotional appeal can have a powerful effect on audiences and if executed in a genuine and sincere fashion the audience will gain respect for the brand. Finally, there’s the element of mystery. Keeping the audience guessing is one of the oldest tricks in the book and usually makes them want to know more. Film studios have become masters in creating mysterious movie trailers that show just enough to make it interesting and draw the audience into theaters.

Creating Community

Creating communities on social media requires giving rise to a unique culture, a defining factor of any community. This unique culture should combine the best elements of marketing functions to promote interaction with the target audience. Chipotle is one of the most successful companies when it comes to creating a social media community. A visit to their Facebook, Twitter or YouTube page shows a very creative yet unified design that elevates their brand to a whole new level of customer loyalty. Loyalty usually leads to word-of-mouth, which is one of most effective ways to promote brands and it’s also free. To put it simply, community is created when people feel at home and are comfortable enough to actively pursue interactions without much encouragement.

Friend or Enemy

Social media will no doubt continue to grow and evolve very quickly which will only create more opportunities for marketing and advertising. The possibilities are just about endless for social media marketing and only recently have brands begun to truly harness some potential. Social media can either be a best friend or a worst enemy to marketers; it all depends on how you use it. Now to conclude, here are three amazing advertisements from AXA Insurance, enjoy!

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