I think a great many business owners and agencies are guilty of over-using and over-stating the use of the word “strategy”. We like to think that everything we do is for a purpose, and has some end goal in mind, and that so long as we have some vague sense of the steps required in order to move us to our intended destination, then we have a strategy. Perhaps that’s an accurate enough definition for most, and this perhaps negates the requirement to document your strategy. Whichever approach you subscribe to, and how formalised your business, social media or general marketing strategy is, there are a few fundamentals that underpin any strategy … the framework, or “rules of the game”.
In few places does the framework change more often than in social media and digital marketing. The rules are changed almost weekly, by the platforms we adopt, the insights we’re provided with, and even by the seemingly ever-changing behaviour of the end client or customer (but do people ever really change?). Most of the changes, however, happen at a tactical level, and the over-arching principals remain. There are, however, a few new(ish) and important factors to bear in mind for your own digital strategy - here’s 3 examples of my own “new thinking” on the subject:
Drop "Spray and Pray", and get Truly Social
Anyone in marketing will be familiar with the concept of the “age of context” in which we now seemingly reside. It makes perfect sense, when you think about this in simple terms. More people are likely to engage with, and buy from you, if you appeal to their interests and personality traits, rather than simply targeting a demographic profile. It’s the premise on which Facebook’s whole business model is based … good enough?! The data that Facebook holds about it’s users allows advertisers to pinpoint the individuals most likely to benefit from their content and their products. When setting up a Facebook Ad, more savvy advertisers are interested in the “interests” field than any of the demographic factors. It’s latching onto this mentality of playing to the proven passions of an individual, that ensures we connect on a meaningful footing.
Twitter is a great example of the “spray and pray” attitude many business owners have towards marketing via social media. With no “community” element (hashtags being the primary example), you rely on the audience you’ve attracted to be of the utmost quality and relevance to the content and offers you provide. Not only that, but with the average “life" of a Tweet rumoured to be 8 minutes or so, timing is just as important a factor. Why try to hit a moving target from a moving vehicle? Get more social, but heading into established communities (such as LinkedIn Groups, Google+ Communities, etc.) comprising your target audience, and ingratiate yourself in as collaborative a way as possible. This will ensure a receptive audience, and a desirable response, when you do have need for assistance in reaching your goals.
Paid has a place, but inbound is an asset
Many businesses start their digital journey by seeking help with SEO and/or PPC (pay-per-click), with the latter seen as an opportunity to get some “quick wins”, by leveraging keyword searched for which it would otherwise be near impossible to rank in the organic listings. That’s all very well, but the waining tolerance by consumers, of the “sponsored” side of search, is testament to the move from advertising to peer recommendation as the preferred method for getting the right product-need match.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, puts a long-term, sustainable asset into your business. Let me explain. One undeniable asset in your business is your people. Another is your process and systems. Another, arguably, is technology. Adding inbound marketing to your team’s skill set, and documenting the processes to ensure succession and sustainability of content-led campaigns, enables you to generate leads and grow the business in an ever-more predictable and sustainable way. Not only that, but good inbound marketing covers off the SEO requirement and negates the need for the “quick wins” of PPC.
The success of your campaigns depends on great strategy, but knowing whether a campaign is a success or not relies on the right quality and quantity of data. Setting objectives and stating true business goals is one thing, and it’s only with the assistance of analytics and social insights that you’ll be able to determine the level of success, and just as important, the source of your successes, too. A good marketer will focus on continuous optimisation of campaigns, to squeeze more revenue out of the same amount of effort, based on an inherent ability to drop the poorest performing strategies and tactics, and focus on what really works.
Adopting a growth hacking mentality to your business will encourage you to determine the conversion rates at various points of your business and marketing funnel, and to focus on improving the volume through each layer.
There you go - if not 3 actionable tactics for improving your social and digital marketing, then at least, hopefully, a few thought-provoking examples of how modern businesses have the opportunity to do more, and get better results, with less.