Twenty years ago, brands had to plan extensive PR mechanisms to get their stories told; today the same PR mechanisms are hard at work, ensuring the right stories are gaining traction and trying to get a hang of popular sentiment about the brand, via the opinions and reviews floating free across all social media. So what changed in the last 20 years to bring about the change? A lot, of course, but the biggest contributing factor was the rebirth of the world wide web, via social media networks, and the pervasive usage of Internet via handheld devices including the ubiquitous mobile phone. Most cell phone users today use (or want to use) at least one social network from a phone app, so much so that on entry-level phones, sites like Facebook are often a newbie’s first exposure to the world wide web. Welcome to the virtual world!
The modes of storytelling and the avenues of networking have changed: both have gone virtual, and the possibility of virtual content going viral has multiplied manifold! One bad review, in the days of word-of-mouth, would not have hit a brand very hard; but these days, a well-worded, cheeky tweet could be retweeted and liked hundreds of times in a matter of minutes! Which also goes for happy product and user experiences too, of course. So how does a brand build build its digital presence right? We give you some pointers:
- Define your goals.
And let your goals define your social media strategy. If you are looking to be a thought leader in your industry space, perhaps you need to focus more on blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter. Google+, Facebook and Twitter are excellent for customer interactions and engagement. So are a plethora of other social media platforms. If you need to choose the right one, you need to know what your goal is.
- No hardsell please.
Let your ads do that. On social media networks, people are looking for information, engagement and real stories. Don’t use the space to exclusively market your products. What if that is your priority? You can talk about the difference or benefit your product or service can bring about, you can mention new developments in your industry, you can share happy client-speak and occasionally you can put up product-specific updates. Take some tips from Nike, one of the brands that leverages social media best.
- Be consistent, stay relevant.
This may seem obvious but the truth is not many brands are consistent about implementing this: add your social media URLs to all your branding and marketing materials, from ads to visiting cards to signages used for an event and most importantly, your website. Help your customer stay connected to you by making it easier for them to find you on the social media platforms they use.
- Assign a budget.
Signing up on a social media platform may be free but it takes time, effort and money to update and monitor your social media profiles perfectly. Defining a budget for social media activities and ads are crucial if you want to invest time in creating and sharing the right content. There are a lot of brands competing for attention on the social media space, and you need to allocate resources for your social media plans if you intend to take it seriously.
So what are your key goals when it comes to social media? What are the challenges you face when you are planning a social media strategy?