Social media is where potential customers can be found that are actively looking for product information, yet many businesses still struggle with finding an effective social media strategy.
This is not surprising. After all, social media began as platforms for people to interact, share and converse. Attempts by businesses to inject traditional messaging (like ads) into social media spaces are often seen as unwelcome intrusions.
“Crashing the party just doesn’t work,” said John McKie, Managing Partner of GodwinGroup. “Businesses must understand the fundamentals of social media and audience expectations in order to build successful programs.”
Content, he said, is often the missing link.
“If you compare successful business social media programs with others, you’ll notice the difference is having really interesting and engaging content,” McKie said. “And good content is not just self-promoting messages.”
Many businesses have a Facebook page or Twitter account, but McKie noted that all but a few are static, undiscovered pages that offer little to a potential customer. Even companies that are active in posting daily fail to grow their social media audience because they lack great content that people want to share or comment on.
“If customers get nothing useful from you then they have no motivation to share your posts. And that’s no way to build a brand,” he said. “Customers will follow you on social media and spread the word about your business, but you must have engaging and interesting content.”
Interesting content can take many forms (imagery, video, infographics, shared content, etc.) and is largely driven by the type of business and marketing objectives. But McKie warned that many businesses think they know what is interesting, and yet their audiences still tune out.
Tal McNeil, GodwinGroup Creative Director, said creating strong and engaging social media content follows a process of discovering who is in the audience and what they want to see. Humor, novelty, relevance and teaching are all devices that can result in great content.
“Great content comes from great ideas,” McNeil said. “Consumers of social media content want to be wowed. They want to see something entertaining and thought-provoking, and that’s what we do. We work to create this kind of user experience in a way that supports the brand image and company mission.”
McNeil said content is not just hit and miss or happenstance. It should be fun, but it also has to be carefully planned.
There’s no one magical formula that works for every business. And a social media program is just one component of a broader digital strategy that may also include paid content and transactional type messaging such as banner advertising and other tactics designed for more direct communications with consumers about a product or service.