Social Media – Back to Basics

I’m often asked, “What is Social Media Marketing?” Of course there is no easy answer to this question. A workable definition might be “those efforts to market a product or service through the engagement of customers via social media products”.

Unfortunately, businesses often get bogged down with social media, often getting lost in the ‘how’, rather than the ‘what’ of their message. This can be seen throughout platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and  Foursquare, as businesses scramble to create an online social presence, but then fail to have a meaningful customer engagement.

To remedy any failing social media campaign, we need to go back to basics, and than means planning! Remember those hours spent toiling over your business plan (or sweating on the absence of one)? Clear business goals should have been identified and subsequently translated into marketing objectives. This is also fundamental to any online marketing campaign that asks of the business: “What are you trying to achieve?” Once you have determined clear marketing objectives, then the next step is to analyse the various methods to achieve them.

There are numerous channels in the marketing mix to communicate with a potential customer. It is key to determine which channels will achieve individual goals most effectively and develop tailored campaigns. It should be understood that not all channels are workable for a every campaign, however some creative thinking will get the most out of what’s available.

To illustrate the key point that its best to let objectives drive the use of tools, let’s review an example scenario. “Bean Cart” is a fictitious mobile coffee cart business that has just set up in the middle of a new business park.  Initial business objectives might be to recover set up costs and achieve profitability in a short time frame.  Accordingly, two marketing objectives could also be: (a) be found quickly by new customers, and (b) generate repeat visits – both with the constraint of a low budget.

Example A: Business Awareness

  • Offline: Bean Cart decides to print leaflets at a cost of $500 and distributes them around the various corporate offices, and hangs flyers around the areas where they operate.  Additionally, they decide on a 50% off your first coffee to entice customers to try their product.
  • Online (Social): An online option could be for Bean Cart to create a Foursquare location presence for free. Beyond just setting up an account, Bean Cart could create an online offer that gives customers 50% off their coffee purchase on their first location ‘check in’. Foursquare provides the ability to track individual visits and promotes the offer as a ‘Nearby Special’ to users within a close proximity to the business.

Example B: Customer Loyalty

  • Offline: To attract repeat customers, Bean Cart have also decided to support their delicious coffee with a ‘Buy 5 coffees and get your 6th FREE’ loyalty card.  The card costs another $500 for the initial batch.
  • Online (Social): Bean Card could create a second online offer with Foursquare giving a free coffee for every 6th location check in at their cart. Again, this service can be managed through the Foursquare service and has the added advantage of no hard printing costs.

When it comes to social media, there is no silver bullet. The basics remain constant, and with some detailed planning and analysis, social media can provide business benefits beyond simply having an online social presence.

Image credit Sofiaperesoa on Wikimedia