Smarter Marketing Blog

7 questions to ask yourself about using social media for business.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Being smart about social media is not just looking cool online.

Speaking recently at a seminar organised by The Wheel for their members, I used the slide below in relation to using social media. Before this element, we had discussed the importance of managing a charity’s brand offline, so this was a natural progression.

You might point out (correctly) that the seven questions posed in the slide could be asked of any planned communication, especially the fifth one, but for this article let’s just concern ourselves with social media. So what do these questions mean? They simply mean that you should think before you start broadcasting your message across social networks.

It is really important that a strategy is agreed up front, which comprises the value of the proposed activity to your customer and to your brand. If, for instance, you decide to use twitter for customer support only, well then curating and sharing content might be a waste of time for you.

If deciding on the usage is the first step, then evaluating which social media platform you should be on, is the second. Of course, this depends on where your audience is. For instance, you might need an e-commerce site rather than a social media site, so being smart about your online marketing is as essential as any other element of business success.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, there is absolutely no need to be on every new platform that emerges. The new shiny tool might look ‘cool’, and you feel that your brand is leading-edge, but in reality it might well be a total time suck.

Thoughts on Social Media

So, how do you know if you should use social media?

Well, let’s take the last question, posed on the slide, first. If being on social networks doesn’t bring some value to your business – what’s the point? You are not going to know whether it can bring value of course, unless you have planned the activity and made it measureable. Ask yourself do your customers want to engage with you on social media? Better still – ask them ….then you’ll know, because if all you want is to be seen online, with no engagement, then you really need to re-think your overall marketing objectives.

Even if customers say they do want you online, you have to figure out the ‘why’. In my opinion, I believe that customers buy from you because of you and how you do business (your product or service being the transacted value). They like you, and they are loyal to you. However, when it comes to being loyal online, your customers will only translate that loyalty if your activity there continues to be relevant to them e.g. latest offers or sales.

Of course social media, comparatively speaking, is a cheap and ever-present means of marketing, but as alluded to in the said slide’s questions, it’s all about being in relevant places. I mean, is there any point in a Facebook page directing potential customers to a shop on the high street? The very essence of a viable business is about how your offer meets people’s needs and desires and if it doesn’t well then, no amount of social activity online will grow your business.

Whatever purpose you decide to be online for – commit wholeheartedly to it. If you don’t have the time, the in-house resources or the commitment, look at outsourcing the set-up, monitoring and measurement of your online activity.

When I mention ‘outsourcing’ I always feel compelled to mention social media gurus. I have written about these mythical creatures before, here, and about how I believe that there can be no such people, due to the rapid shifting sands of social media tools. There are definitely folks who can advise you on what tools are available, but in fairness you’re not an expert because of them, you’re an expert because of how you can use the information the tools provide.

My point here is that if one doesn’t have the basic marketing skills to begin with, the tools are almost irrelevant. What happens when twitter and Facebook disappear? Surely fundamental marketing and communication skills will still be required to use the ‘new’ tools on the block. After all a writer’s talent doesn’t change whether they are using a typewriter or an iPad.

Tips and Timesavers.

If you don’t want to outsource and decide to go it alone here are six basic elements that should form your digital visibility:

  •                 a simple website (optimised for search and usage)
  •                 a social media presence (on relevant platform/s)
  •                 a blog
  •                 email newsletters (customer focused)
  •                 webinars (or podcasts or YouTube videos)
  •                 traffic reports (e.g. google analytics)

Remember though, if you are going to outsource to a communication company you need to ask yourself these questions; how much time do I need to commit to working with them, do I want just a digital agency or an integrated marketing firm, are they cutting edge and are you willing to take risks, can they collaborate with other agencies you might be using and can you work with them i.e. is there chemistry.

Still wondering what to do? – just call O’Connor & Kelly – we’ll meet you for a chat with no strings attached.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

One response to “7 questions to ask yourself about using social media for business.”

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