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Although social media can give you good returns for a fraction of the monetary cost of a traditional marketing campaign, you should still think of it as just one element of your overall marketing mix.
Social media marketing does occupy a useful place, but it is still best used in conjunction with other marketing, rather than as a single magical cure-all that exists in isolation. One important reason for this is that the audience engaging with you over social media channels is likely to be smaller than the one exposed to your brand through more traditional channels such as advertising, in-store or via word-of-mouth. While things may develop to the point where social media users reach critical mass (especially for very niche products with a young demographic, for example), for most businesses this is not the case yet, and so it’s wiser to spread your bets.
Another reason to do this is that your customers aren’t only exposed to your brand online. In a single day, your potential customer could be exposed to your product through an in-store promotion, an outdoor display ad, a magazine ad, a search ad on Google, your Facebook page, and a tweet from your corporate account. Because of this, you need to be at all the places your customers are likely to be – not just in one specialised avenue.
By thinking of social media in this way, and making sure that your strategies for each element are in sync, each channel then contributes to a more valuable whole.
Here are five best practices for doing so:
- Have a consistent voice: Although the unique nature of social media platforms means the campaign will be structured differently to other forms of marketing, you should still keep a consistent voice wherever you engage. Whether you’re using LinkedIn, Twitter and a company blog together with print and display ads, your underlying message should be the same. Having this unity strengthens your brand identity – if, for example, you adopt a tongue-in-cheek persona on your social media platforms, but are more formal in a print campaign, the messaging becomes diluted for consumers engaging in both places.
- Use each medium for different stages in the consumer lifecycle: Different forms of media work better in different stages of the consumer lifecycle. For example, you could use print and TV advertising to spread initial brand awareness, while you could use social media as a platform where consumers are ready to engage further or give feedback post-sale. This could mean, for example, having a review tab on your Facebook Page and then driving visitors to your website once they’re ready to buy your product or service.
- Use social media for its strengths: Just like any other channel, social media has its strengths and weaknesses, so exploit it for what it can do, but don’t expect it to do everything your marketing function requires. For example, use social media as a place for your customers to engage and give feedback, but if you want to reach the largest audience possible, use online and offline advertising to strengthen your efforts.
- Cross promote: Many businesses create social media channels and then forget to market them, which can be the main reason they aren’t successful. Include your company blog and Facebook Page URL in promotional material such as brochures, business cards, and include your Twitter addresses in presentations you give.
- Take learnings from your other marketing: In most cases, you’ll launch a social media campaign after you’ve already started using other digital forms of marketing. Use what you’ve learned from these efforts, and then apply them to social media. For example, if you find people respond better to a particular kind of content on your website, or that certain products are more popular in your Google Adwords campaign, craft your social media strategy to focus on these rather than those that don’t give as good a return.