When it comes to social media marketing usually you just want to know what to do. What formula to apply to your business, rather than why. Because social media is really not new, though our examination of it in an online context is, there is actually a formula you can apply which works every time.
If you are interested in the historical parallels of its context the video below (it is 17 minutes long) will actually help you understand the how and the when, as well as the why.
The formula itself is comprised of seven basic ingredients out of which any successful social media marketing campaign can be created. Depending upon what you promote, to whom, when and how, the ingredients themselves will inevitably vary, but they all need to be there.
The good news is that there are just seven of them. In a way it helps to think of them as a recipe. Although the ingredients each time you ‘cook’ a social media campaign are the same, each social media campaign is different. It has a different focus, a different aim, a different audience and a different outcome. It is this fluidity which, usually makes social media marketing so difficult to ‘get’.
Companies and businesses of all types dislike fluidity and the uncertainty which goes with it and prefer, instead, to focus on processes and activities where the outcome has some perceived guarantee of success or, at the very least a measurable return on the investment (ROI) put in.
When it comes to business and marketing the variables are so many and the uncertainty so large that, usually, we all end up clutching desperately at any straws of certainty on offer. Start-ups emulate larger businesses, small businesses try to be like big ones, one-man outfits try to be like anyone they think is successful and the corporate behemoths that everyone studies in BMA 101 and which become the role models most people think about when it comes to professional marketing, are, usually and paradoxically, the ones least likely to innovate.
This leads to the perpetuation of business marketing myths which creates the ‘traditions’ behind marketing which are destined to persist until the next cycle of disruption makes them obsolete. Well, disruption is now here in the form of social media and if you truly want to make use of it to create a social media marketing campaign which resonates with your audience the challenge is to figure out exactly how to use the seven ingredients that power every successful social media marketing campaign:
01. A focal point. Work out what it is going to be for you. Do not just think that it’s enough to make your social media campaign focus on your product. That hardly ever works. A focal point resonates with the underlying thoughts and desires of your readers and those you interact with in a social media environment. It is frequently the expression of thoughts they had not had the chance to express themselves, or aspirations they had not voiced.
02. Use the latest technology available. Technology always allows the breaching of traditional barriers and the speeding up in the way information is shared. It would be wrong to create a social media strategy around a specific technology. Technological platforms come and go, fall out of favour or become even more fashionable. But every new type of technology provides the advantage of a wide uptake by a public which is enthused by the new. This makes it a winner.
03. Create accessibility. The basic rule of marketing is that if you make it hard for your target audience to do business with you, they won’t. So do not just rely on the fact that you have a great product or great content. Find ways to make it more accessible. From the level of language you use to the functionality and design you employ they are all part and parcel of accessibility.
04. Generate engagement. Engagement and social media have been mentioned together like ‘salt and pepper’ ever since we started recognising the latter as a trend in marketing and online communication. Yet how you generate engagement continues to be the subject of intense debate. There really is no correct answer here and even the trial and error method seems to work at times. At the end of the day if you are marketing something you are in the best position possible to understand the concerns, interests and culture of those you are marketing to. Use that knowledge to connect with your potential customers like equals.
05. Create a meme. Memes take many forms. From mini videos to photographs, composite drawings and infographics. They could even be limericks or slogans. What they all share in common is the effect. A meme works at many different levels. It takes no more than an instant to understand and it is in a format which makes it easy to re-share and discuss (which cuts out articles and lengthy prose).
06. Use Social Networks. The challenge here lies in identifying, correctly, where your target audience is and then working out how to reach it. Social networks always help amplify the power and reach of your message and discounting them as ‘hard to reach’, ‘difficult to control’ or ‘almost impossible to quantify’ risks missing the point. They are a vital ingredient without which no social media marketing campaign ever truly succeeds.
07. Foster gamification. Find a way to make the message you are sharing, the product or service you are promoting or idea you propagating becomes a game in itself. The moment participation in what you do becomes a badge of fashion, knowledge or status you have a winner. Apple realised that with the iPod and the coolness factor of its products, delivering what on occasion was a sub-standard service in terms of specific expectations and yet winning because its products scored so highly on the aspirational lifestyle stakes.
Of course the ingredients are easy enough to list, just like the recipe for making Cola. How you go from the list to the kind of end result that wows everybody is the talent, skill and persistence you bring to the table.
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