5 Questions to Ask Before Taking the Social Media Plunge
Here are five questions to think through as you develop a social networking program.
1. What is your objective? For any marketing campaign, the first step is to set a clear objective as well as figure out how you'll measure success. Too many marketers today plunge into social networks just to be there, without stepping back to figure out what they're really trying to accomplish.
Social networking programs don't do well when measured through common marketing efficiency metrics, such as cost per lead or cost per click. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the range of options in this channel, such as content contribution, community development and traditional paid placements. Select the tools that fit with your program objectives.
2. Who cares? Particularly in social media, relevancy is critical. Understand your target audience and where members of your audience are active online. There are hundreds of social networking sites marketers can work with. The larger ones give you tools to target by traditional demographic segments. Put your program where your best customers are already spending time.
3. How are you rewarding them? The most successful social networking programs follow principles of permission-based marketing rather than interruption. So, give your audience something valuable and remarkable, such as unique content that's worth commenting on; a tool for self expression; or a community that's worth being a part of. The programs also have to be quick to take in and easy to digest.
4. Can they trust you? Both authenticity and openness are critical on social networks. Abusing the relationships that you build can quickly backfire on a brand. Respecting the relationships you build also means understanding when to actively participate and adjust the program if your audience demands it, or to let the conversation happen and allow the community to regulate itself even if it doesn't go exactly in the direction you hoped.
5. Are you committed? Becoming an effective social media marketer means taking the time to learn what works for you. Part of the good news and bad news about this channel is that there's no one right answer for every business. Running a token program just to say you tried it is likely to fail. Stick with it, test and learn, and become an expert, and you'll find the best ways to tap in to this rapidly growing channel.