Since our last economic cycle — and the resulting great recession — it’s become clear that all businesses need to be active on social media. To help engage with customers and prospects. Build brand awareness. And to drive sales.
No argument there, right? But when you’re busy managing the multiple facets of a home and building product brand, there’s rarely enough time to accomplish mission-critical tasks. Let alone, to devote the time and resources required to maintain an active presence on every social media channel.
While it’s true that a well-researched and executed social media strategy will deliver results, it’s also true that a poorly planned and rolled out strategy could instead cause harm… to your brand. And, potentially, to your bottom line.
That’s why — before embarking on a social media campaign — it’s vital to develop a thoughtful, comprehensive, and focused strategy… that will allow your brand to earn the best return possible on your social media investment.
So how do you choose the best social media platform(s) for your business? Following are six tips to help guide your social media journey.
Make sure you can commit to consistency
First, consider whether you have the resources to maintain an active presence on a platform. A neglected Facebook page, for example, will discourage more potential leads than a page that’s never existed. If you suddenly stop posting, it’s only natural for people to wonder why.
Similarly, it can become concerning to other users when Twitter or Instagram comments — on a brand’s site — go unacknowledged. And negative reviews on review platforms such as BirdEye can take on a life of their own when they’re not properly managed.
Social platforms are by definition, well… social. And, as such, audiences are made up of real folks who seek out those platforms to engage and interact.
Prospects and customers want to be able to ask questions or request information. Even post complaints. Each of those interactions requires a timely and well-considered response. So, be realistic when determining how your team will commit to managing a social platform, or two, or three…
Set achievable goals
As you decide how many resources your brand can commit to a social strategy, be certain to ask — and know the answers — to a few questions.
Do you want to be on Facebook because you’re in a consumer-facing business and you want to interact with your end users? Or are you interested in establishing some authority on LinkedIn because you’re in a B-to-B business that sells to and influences other businesses? Perhaps your priority is driving traffic back to your website.
Do you want to create “awareness”? Measure “intent”? Increase “trial”? Do you want to raise your profile? Maintain or improve your reputation? All of the above? As with any good plan, take the time to develop and focus — your social media goals.
Identify your audience(s)
Who are your typical customers? Not who you think they are. But rather who you know they are. Individual audience members — that you may bond with — sometimes can skew your impression of who your larger base of customers and prospects really are. Those who have similar interests and lives to yours can certainly make your work life more pleasant. Yet they may not reflect the ideal persona who is qualified to buy or specify your brand.
Understanding demographic profiles will help determine which social platform, or mix of platforms, may be right for your brand. Make sure to speak with the sales team to get their input on which social platforms their channel communities may be engaging with.
Scope out the competition
Analyze the web presence of your competitive space. And note the messaging that is trending… or, even better, determine how you can distinguish your brand by improving upon those messages.
Are “worthy” brands that compete with you posting helpful videos on YouTube… that demonstrate their products in the field? Are their sales and marketing teams responding to inquiries in real time on Twitter? Are they publishing concise thought leadership articles on LinkedIn? What will be your brand’s Unique Selling Proposition?
Assess the options
Different social media applications have distinct core audiences. So be certain to consider user demographics and preferences for interaction on each platform.
Facebook. Facebook reports more than 2.7 billion users… and yes, that’s billions. With all that potential for noise, it’s critically important to consider how audiences use the site: to build relationships. And to keep in touch with friends, old and new.
This makes Facebook a good platform for building upon the loyalty of your existing customer base. Yet, it may be more challenging to develop new prospective audiences. Due to Facebook’s extensive user base, your posts have a limited reach… even if you’re paying to promote or “boost” your posts.
Twitter. Twitter uses hashtags, which organize conversations around a specific word or phrase. Each stream is user-generated and is automatically indexed by the platform. As such, searching hashtag indexes can help brands identify important, emerging trends.
Since Twitter unfolds in real time, many brands combine the platform with activities at tradeshows — or other dealer events — to generate buzz around a product launch. A number of brands are currently participating in Twitter chats, such as #Kbtribechat, a weekly online industry community that gives kitchen and bath industry — and related — professionals an informal forum. Where they can share their thoughts on a wide range of trending topics.
Instagram. Instagram is a rapidly-growing platform owned by Facebook. Because Instagram’s content is made up of user-uploaded photos and video, the platform works well for A&D offerings that lend themselves to visual display, including furnishings, accents, fixtures, surfaces, and lighting.
Many professionals including influencers, rely on Instagram for inspiration and to learn more about products.
YouTube. YouTube boasts 2.3 billion users. And its reach extends even further… as most YouTube content can be shared across multiple social media sites. You don’t have to sign up to be a user to search and view videos on YouTube… making the platform accessible to anyone with a smartphone or computer. As such, product education and demonstration videos are ideal content for this platform.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most utilized “business” social platform and has the largest number of users from ages 30 to 49. It’s no wonder that Microsoft acquired this site… to keep it out of the clutches of rival, SalesForce CRM. The platform has a narrow focus and is continually updated by its own users — so it’s most useful for B2B lead generation, networking, establishing authority… and can also be extremely valuable in recruiting future employees.
Pinterest. Pinterest users save content by “pinning” photos or videos to virtual bulletin boards… that are themed and maintained by users. Some of the most common pins are those related to home improvement and furnishings.
Since Pinterest is almost entirely visual, it’s important for brands to have strong images and graphics that will engage users. In addition, since Pinterest is primarily built for search and discovery, your content gets a much longer shelf-life than it may trend on other platforms.
And, finally, ask for help
Very often, drilling deeper into customer demographics and determining how to reach your target audience online most effectively can be a daunting undertaking. Having a strong social media presence involves not only consistently developing and posting content, but also intelligently managing that presence. And that takes time, resources and budget consideration. That’s where seasoned counsel becomes invaluable.
Whether you’re looking for recommendations on how to launch a social media strategy, grow your existing engagement, or need some help with social listening and outsourcing some of the day-to-day operations, K&A can help. Send an email to Steve Kleber at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.