Engaging in social media is important, but should be considered in the context of a broader content marketing strategy.
Social media is a powerful tool, and we all know that with great power comes great responsibility. Results show social media spending is currently nine percent of marketing budgets and is expected to increase to more than 13 percent in the next year. In five years, marketers expect to spend more than 21 percent of their budgets on social media. But are these social media efforts and spends effectively integrated into the overall marketing goals of the company?
Since 2011, marketers across various sectors have been asked this question. They were to rate their answers from 1 to 7, one being not-integrated and 7 being very-integrated. The average outcome in 2011 was 3.8. The outcome in 2014? 3.9. This 0.1 point growth isn’t exactly on par with the growth we’ve seen in social media marketing spending. So where is the hiccup? How can your company do it better?
It turns out that many, or dare I say most, companies have a tough time deciding where their social media efforts land. Does it fall under Communications? Does it fall under Marketing? Yes and yes.
Your social media goals should be driven against your marketing and communications goals. When you have a specific marketing objective, make sure that you are using social media to drive that objective. If you have an in-house social media team, make sure their goals line up with those of the Communications and Marketing departments. It is very easy in social media to go off on a tangent, but while your brand’s messaging can be a little more fun on social (check out Vertical Leap for some whimsiical examples), it still should fit within the overall marketing goals of the company.
While there are a growing number of social media platforms, you don’t have to use every one. In fact, we recommend focusing your efforts on just a few platforms. Remember the old “do less, better” moniker? Well it certainly applies here. Work within your marketing goals to decide where your target demographic is, and how to best position your brand to engage them. Align your social media channels with your overall marketing strategy. For instance, if you’re a B2B technology company, you’re not that likely to find your tribe on Instagram or Pinterest—but a business-focused network like LinkedIn could be a goldmine.
You may have a crack social media team who works with the marketing and communications departments seamlessly. Things are chugging along and then all of a sudden you’re not getting the engagement numbers you were last month. Now is the time to bring in a little outside help and fresh perspective. Social media moves fast, and while there are certainly dangers to completely outsourcing your marketing and communications efforts, getting a regular pop of fresh content and new ideas is a great strategy for success.
Content is (yes, still) king. Let’s say you are working with an awesome content marketing consultant to produce pro-level blog content and white papers and your website is in the best shape it’s ever been. You are a thought leader in your industry. Or at least you would be if anyone saw your content. All of these assets have been produced as part of your brand position, so be sure to invite the microphone to have a seat at the table. Thoughtful and on point social media will launch good content upon the right audiences, rounding out a successful content marketing plan.
Social media is a strong tool for uncovering new customer insights that can be used by teams across all external-facing lines of business. This data can be further integrated with other curated data to give a fully fleshed out look at your listeners and a valuable jump-start to your marketing strategies. Whether you prefer to use some of the free social listening tools, are willing to pay for a more in-depth look at how consumers are interacting with your brand, or prefer to integrate the two, you will gain very valuable marketing data from your social media audience.
Social media is no longer a part-time offshoot marketing position, nor should its efforts be siloed. Depending on your company’s brand position and structure, a multi-pronged approach to this complex marketing tool should be applied. Its role will certainly grow, and the budget likely with it, but social media does not stand alone. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and any other platform you use are all tools within a broader marketing strategy.
Jesse is an experienced writer and social media strategist who loves finding the good in the world. She serves as a client account manager here at Eucalypt Media. A lifelong Mainer, Jesse is an avid cook, outdoor adventurer, and lover of a good beer and a great story.
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