More brands than ever are doing social media marketing but so many seem less than satisfied with their results. Why are their social media strategies failing?
In this episode of Here’s Why, Mark and Eric explain how to build a “flow” that results in social media that connects with your audience.
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- Does Your Social Media Strategy Go With the Flow? by Mark Traphagen
Eric: Mark, more brands than ever are doing social media marketing but so many seem less than satisfied with their results. Why are their social media strategies failing?
Mark: Well, Eric, I’ve worked with and studied hundreds of companies’ social media efforts, and in my observation, the main reason many fail is they have no real strategy to begin with.
Eric: So are you saying they have no strategy or their strategy is not well thought out?
Mark: It can be either. Even when they have a strategy, it is too often cut off from the sources it needs for success.
Eric: What are those sources?
Mark: I use the term sources deliberately because I envision an effective social media marketing strategy as the tributaries that flow off a well-fed mountain stream. If the source on the mountain is dry or dammed off, the tributaries dry up. I call this social media content flow.
Just like those tributaries down on the plains, your social media needs to be fed by high quality, reliable sources that are closely tied to your business objectives and customer needs.
Eric: So, where does it all start? I mean, what are the headwaters, so to speak, of this social content flow?
Mark: I believe the headwaters of effective marketing in general, let alone social media, is your brand identity.
Before you can say anything to the world, you need to have a firm grasp on what your value is. What’s unique about your brand? Be able to articulate a clear statement of why your brand matters. Why do you exist? What do you bring into the marketplace that no one else can?
For example, here at Perficient Digital, we provide services that hundreds of other agencies provide. What makes us different are our values.
You’re looking at a photo of one of the main halls of our office, and we want our employees to see those core values every day and to take them into their work, their service to customers and into our marketing messages.
Eric: But expressing those values in our marketplace doesn’t mean we just repeat those phrases, right?
Mark: Right. It means that those values permeate our content and our marketing messages. We don’t say them as much as we show them. In my full-length article on our blog, I also talk about your brand UVP and brand story, and you should check out that article to find out what those are.
Eric: So, great. Know the value of your brand, but what about the customer?
Mark: And that’s the next element of the headwaters of our social media flow, knowing your customer’s identity.
I hope it’s obvious that it doesn’t matter how awesome your products or services are or how on point your brand values if they don’t connect to real wants and needs of your potential customers. You need to invest the time and research into learning that, and learning in particular how your products or services address those wants and needs. This is where your brand story can become sort of like the hero that comes alongside the customer on her quest to fulfill some need or the answer to some problem.
Eric: Okay. So, have we established all of the ingredients of healthy headwaters yet?
Mark: Not so fast. There is one more, and that is targeted content.
This is the opposite of that shot in the dark content, content that is created for content’s sake. And here’s where the real value emerges of my argument that your content needs to flow from both your brand story and your knowledge of your customers. If you only speak from brand identity, you begin to broadcast, to advertise, to self promote, to speak at and down to people instead of engaging them in a meaningful conversation.
And if you only speak from customer knowledge, you may miss adding any real value of helping those customers or prospects to see how your brand value intersects perfectly with their wants or needs. This is why just to answer your frequently asked questions is an incomplete (but not terrible) content strategy.
Having both aspects in mind as you plan and create your content is a holistic strategy that is more likely to produce content that creates real connections with people. It gets you beyond a “That was interesting” response to a “Wow, that really helped me” response. The latter is what makes your brand memorable.
Eric: And now you’re ready to get social.
Mark: Yes, we are. We are ready to get social.
Yes, if you’ve already created that brand value we talked about, your customer needs are targeted by your content, you got that flow as your marketing headwaters, then there’s abundant fresh water to flow into your social media tributaries. Now you know who you are as a brand, what you bring to the market place, you know what your prospects need and care about so you know how to connect those two, and you have content that makes that connection that you can point people to.
Social media is at its best as a marketing channel when it is used to connect the exact right content with the right people where they are most likely to run across it. And suddenly your social media channels have actual value to your followers. They might even start looking forward to seeing your posts.
Eric: Thanks, Mark. And in your article, “Does your social media content go with the flow?” we have a lot more detail on developing each part of your social flow strategy.