One of the most rapidly evolving aspects of digital marketing is social media. While networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+ and LinkedIn, continue to grow at an exponential pace, new channels are being launched on a regular basis. This has made it a challenge for many marketers struggling to not only get up to speed on the capabilities of each platform, but also to understand the nuances of the audiences using them. It’s no surprise that many are falling short and not gaining the true value of these incredibly powerful tools to connect with customers. The most common mistake? Perhaps, the biggest error is overlooking the “social” part of social media.
Talking to audiences on social media channels, rather than talking with them is a surefire way to not gain the true value of this increasingly important component of a digital marketing plan. Unlike other forms of marketing that are designed to be one-way streets of communication with specific audiences, social media is about two-way conversation with often broader market segments. Without this level of engagement, individuals will quickly lose interest in any message you’re delivering, even if it holds tremendous value.
Interaction – The Hallmark of Social Media
The interactions that can occur between your organization and your audience are exactly what makes social media so powerful. Talking with customers and prospective customers is the first step in propelling them to talk about you and your value proposition. The most successful marketers have already identified that people love it when an organization responds directly to them in a personalized, timely manner. Social media enables this to happen.
Of course, this level of communication typically requires the allocation of more time and resources. For many organizations, it’s important to consider that social media engagement comes in many different forms and crosses multiple departments. Conversations may require the support of marketing, sales, public relations, product development or customer service. Thus, it’s worthwhile to think about resource allocation for social media on a cross-departmental level. In other words, proactive communication on social channels may require support and budget from several teams.
Be Prepared for Negative Feedback
As with everything in business, social media is a dual-edged sword. Along with gaining the benefits of being able to generate conversations, positive attention and praise, you also put your organization at greater risk of publicly-read complaints. However, the most adept marketers know that how one handles negative feedback can be incredibly important. A complaint posted on a social channel doesn’t always have to result in brand damage to your organization. Rather, it can communicate to a broad audience that you are dedicated to correcting mistakes and staying focused on customer satisfaction.
It may seem counter intuitive to broadcast when you’ve made a mistake in the public forum of social media. Yet, admitting errors is an essential part of social media marketing. Rather than trying to ignore a problem, cover it up or provide a quick knee-jerk, one-sided reaction, the smart approach is to deliver a thoughtful, well-crafted response as fast as possible. This requires both preliminary planning and strategy, as well as discipline. By doing so, others will see your organization as service-oriented and responsible.
Conversations, whether they happen in-person among friends or between an organization and a customer on a social channel, are the foundation for relationships. Over time, if the dialogues are mutually beneficial, trust is developed and loyalty is achieved. This is the opportunity for any organization that fine-tunes their social skills on social media.