Every social media platform has proven effective to businesses and social media marketing agencies in some way, but to experience these benefits, you must have a social media strategy in place.
Social media done the right way follows the same principles as networking in person. For it to be effective, you not only have to attend the right events with the right people, but you also have to know how to make conversation happen.
Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media says, ‘At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, "Hey, I’m Dave. My stuff is 20 percent off." What you do is ask questions, tell stories, listen and relate to people.’
A social media strategy that works considers three elements: well-executed posts in front of the right audience specific to each platform.
Social media marketing starts with buyer personas
Buyer personas identify not only who your ideal buyers are and what they need, but also what sites they frequent. The platforms you choose and the content you post will all be based on these buyer personas so they need to be in place from the start.
Once you understand which networks your ideal buyers use, it’s vital to understand why they are using that network so you know what to say and how to say it.
Content as a conversation starter
Quality content on your blog and curated content from others in your industry gives you what you need to start the conversation on social media.
Content is an opportunity to address common customer problems, industry news, best practices and more, which will establish your company’s credibility and build trust between buyer and brand. But your content on social media will fall flat if you don’t understand how to present it.
Watch your tone
How you address your ideal buyers on social media will change depending on the platform. To figure out how to join the conversation on different networks, you need to understand the difference between tone and voice.
- Tone is how you speak to your ideal buyer.
- Voice is your brand’s personality.
Tone changes. Voice does not. To build trust with your ideal buyer, your brand’s personality needs to be consistent, transparent and authentic. To engage, your tone must be appropriate to the platform.
Voice and tone are tricky because you can’t give your social media a personality test. But just because you can’t measure it doesn’t mean it’s not important. You have to know who you are going to be as a company and as a brand.
Adapting your company voice
Once you establish the voice and personality of your brand, you have to adapt your voice to meet the tone of the platform. This is done by examining the purpose of each platform.
Guy Kawasaki gives a breakdown of the purpose behind the major platforms, but to have an effective social media strategy, you have to understand the link between purpose and tone.
Facebook is for connecting with the people you know. In business, your audience is made of those that have ‘liked’ your page. Since these are people your brand ‘knows,’ the tone you use with your fans should be friendly and conversational.
In 140 characters, your tweets give followers a perception of your brand’s personality. While brevity is key, finding the right conversation is in the hashtag. Include hashtags relevant to your topic and industry to make yourself searchable to your buyers.
Google+ differs from Facebook in that instead of focusing on who you know, its emphasis is on shared passions. Your tone must be informative and inspiring.
Pinning is highly visual, but images can carry tone the same way words do. You need a concrete, quality image to catch the buyer’s eye.
This network is for building your credibility with other business people. Your tone should be professional and your content should be relevant to the industry.
Whether on these major networks or others, tone should always adapt to the purpose of the network and to who you are trying to reach.
Joining the conversation on social media
Understanding the basic, sometimes subtle differences between the major social networks helps you better strategize how to speak to your ideal buyer on each platform.
Social media marketing isn’t simply a matter of choosing one platform over the other. It’s a matter of forming a complete strategy that includes the platforms that target your ideal buyers and understanding the best way to join the conversation on each one.
(Hat tip to Jason Howie for the photo)