Over the past year we’ve talked a lot about the link between achieving success in social media and the importance of engaging with your audience. Social media has never been purely about the dissemination of information. It is true that you want to get your message out but you will only gain traction and positive results if you listen just as much as you speak. Organisations that do really well in social are set up to elicit responses from their audience and respond in turn. It is very much a two-way symmetrical communication model.
There are multiple ways to encourage engagement; surveys, posing questions, asking directly for people’s opinion or using videos to bring you closer to your audience are just a few. However, all of these tools will bear little fruit if you don’t first understand the most important factor…you must provide your audience with a reason to want to get involved and that comes down to value. The content you create must have a clear and obvious value to your audience. It must be relevant, high quality and unique. It must provide something your audience doesn’t already have. Often, in the B2B world, that is an understanding of a topic or an insight into a complex issue.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
This post is a case in point. We want to engage with MTM’s audience and to do that we want to create content which has value to that audience. We typically use education, tips and advice on marketing trends and disciplines but on the face of it that would appear to be self-defeating. By disseminating our collective knowledge for free, we are effectively giving away the crown jewels, so to speak. But, knowledge is what we have to offer. It is really the only thing we have to offer. We could give things away, offer prizes for answering a survey but that does little to position MTM as thought leaders in a highly competitive industry. Effectively, we gamble that by demonstrating that we know what we’re talking about, we’ll encourage businesses to choose us to support their marketing activity; to use our knowledge just for them, on a paid for basis. There is obviously nothing to stop our audience from taking on board our tips and using them themselves, cutting us out of the loop altogether. However, a list of ingredients does not make a chef and to have a protectionist attitude towards your content is a recipe for failure. Puns are fine though.
Of course, this is not the same for every business which is looking to achieve successful engagement through social media. In other areas brands will likely have very different things to offer and use the tools which they have at their disposal. Coca Cola, for example, doesn’t have a great deal of knowledge to share but that is not its objective. It’s not trying to be the knowledge leaders for the beverage world. Coke doesn’t have its own drinks consultancy or even its own retail outlets and ecommerce platform. For Coke, social media is about maintaining its brand image and raising awareness of its products and ad campaigns. Coke’s marketing team wants to make sure that when you’re thirsty, the first thing you think of is Coke.
In that way, we do share Coke’s objectives. We want MTM to be the first name you think of when you are in need of integrated marketing support, a new website or creative campaign or a new PR programme – the difference is the type of content and activity we use to achieve our goals. Whatever your business, market or industry, once you understand what you have to offer your audience, you have to ensure that you are able to rise above your competitors and that relies on the content you’re offering and the initiatives you conduct being appropriate, having a real value and being relevant.
To add another dimension into the mix, consistency of message is also essential. Your brand has, or at least should have, its own distinctive DNA; well-defined, indelible traits that make your organisation what it is. This will typically be comprised of your personality and values, your approach to doing business and what you hold important. This DNA should touch every aspect of your communications, especially social media but also the language and graphics you use and the tone of your other marketing communications.
Everyone understands that social media must eventually contribute to greater sales or effectively fulfil a customer services role, no matter what market you’re involved with. Social media is an investment and all marketing investment must show a return. Part of the challenge is how your determine value and calculate that return. If the only metric you are interested in is immediate sales growth, you’re going to find it hard to maintain social media expenditure. If, however, you agree that increasing brand recognition, positioning your brand and getting closer to your audience is just as important, social media can deliver ROI in spades. Social media engagement will never be solely about driving sales but it can, through the content and interactions listed above, drive behavioural change, which in turn builds the audience, the mutually beneficial relationships and ultimately, the sales pipeline you need.
BUILDING KILLER CONTENT SHOULD:
- Have real value, be highly relevant, accurate and in line with your brand personality
- Be designed to satisfy your audience’s needs, not your own
- Position your business as thought leaders, technical experts, the most ‘fun’ or whatever is right for you and your audience
- Be produced regularly so your audience knows there will always be something new to digest
- Include a range of mediums, delivered across multiple channels; from video, feature articles to technical white papers and short social updates and posts – whatever your audience responds to
- Finally, don’t be afraid to pay to promote it. This whole process is about building a relevant audience, not just talking to the one your already have. You might have created the most inspiring piece of content but if no one gets to see it, it will be wasted effort.
For help setting up or for the ongoing management your social media activity and content, talk to MTM, it’s what we do.