Dr. Brian Monger
Before embarking on any social media marketing
Before embarking on any social media marketing campaigns, it is essential to set your goals and define your prospects or target audience. Without a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and who you want to reach, your promotional campaigns will not be focused and the results may be fragmented and weak.
Determining your goals and target audience is a fairly important preliminary process when it comes to social media marketing.
This is not just plotting objectives for the sake of being organized; your goals directly determine the best strategy to take and the community to target.
This article talks about the common goals for social media marketing and includes suggestions on how you can determine your target audience.
Social media marketing goals will often involve different overall strategies and social media channels. It is possible to market with the aim of achieving all the following benefits; they do complement each other and some results naturally arise when other goals are achieved (e.g. better brand awareness eventually brings links).
Let’s take a look at some of the goals you can strive towards:
1. Increased Brand Awareness.
Content can be created and spread through social media to improve public perception of your brand by evoking specific qualities which make it distinct from others. For new websites or businesses, this pervasive visibility generates brand familiarity. Social media channels can rapidly generate word of mouth and buzz for most brands.
2. Reputation Management.
The goal here is to positively influence the way a potential and existing customer/audience perceives your brand. Work of this nature is less push-orientated and may involve the creation of social media profiles and wikis that rank well on search engines for your brand name.
This also includes monitoring public forums and feedback channels to track and address what is said about your site. Some view this as social media optimization, although I would classify it as pull-marketing.
3. Improved Search Engine Rankings.
When considered within a larger SEO and link building framework, content can be creatively developed and promoted for the purpose of obtaining links from the members of the social news websites.
This means you should primarily target social sites with the highest potential to give you links, instead of smaller-sized communities which only offer interested traffic. While important, your site’s profile need not be entirely relevant to the social media website in question; content can be created specifically to appeal to different audiences.
4. Increased Relevant Visitor Traffic.
If you are only interested in getting interested visitors or users for your website, you should invest more time on social communities which have a high topical relevance.
The social site’s topical focus should be inline with what your site covers/offers. For example, instead of promoting your internet marketing articles through wide platform like Digg, try pushing it on more appropriate communities like StumbleUpon, because it will get you people who are more likely to follow your site.
5. Improve Sales for a Product (goods and services) To effectively increase your product sales, you should release your offer through an influencer who is respected in the community or work through a sponsorship model (contests etc.). Hard selling a social media audience through an overtly commercial profile is not advisable because it will come across as marketing spam.
One solution is to segment the market and focus on being the number one solution for specific user problems. Naturally, you should mostly target communities which are highly relevant to your niche focus because this increases the likelihood for traffic to convert.
Having distinctive goals allows you to embark on mini-campaigns which target specific communities to fulfill individual goals. For instance, you can run a link building campaign through Digg while simultaneously building brand awareness by leveraging social video communities like YouTube.
Spitting up your campaigns will allow you to more easily examine the general ROI (returns on investment) for each community. Plotting and analyzing your achievements over time will allow you understand which social media channel fulfills your goals the best. This allows you to plan for future marketing initiatives.
Define the target market for your social marketing campaigns
After determining your social media objectives, you need to define your actual target audience. If your website or business has been around for a while, you should already have a rough idea of who you need to reach.
In the context of social media marketing, the goals you’ve chosen will partially determine your target audience as well. For instance, if you’re looking to increase overall sales conversions, you want a social media demographic that is profitable and potentially interested in your product or offer.
If you’re trying to build links, your target audience should be people with the ability to link or influence links. (e.g. bloggers, social media users). While your social media goals may partially determine the crowd to target, your business model is also an important factor to consider. What are you selling and who is likely to be interested?
Sometimes your target audience crosses many demographic segments. If you run a general technology blog your audience profile may be quite varied. You will have programmers, marketers and both male and female tech enthusiasts of all ages.
Some business models have in-built audience profile. Women’s magazines have a more defined audience which can be broken down by gender, age or even geographic location. The communities you target should have users of this mold.
Here are some questions to ask before you begin your social marketing campaign:
1. Who is likely to be most interested in my content?
2. Who do I want to communicate with and why?
3. What kind of audience does this social community have?
4. What are people currently saying about my website or business?
5. Which type of person is likely to purchase my product (goods and services)?
6. What tools or online services do my target audience use?
7. Which websites does my target audience frequent on the net?
8. What do my target audience have in common with each other?
I like to send some of these questions to a few friends or colleagues and compile their answers. Each individual has a unique perspective and different ways of using the web and their answers will give you a good general idea of your potential online customers and their preferences.
Once you create a general outline of your audience, you can more easily select the social media channels to target. This brings us to the end of the preliminary preparations for your social media marketing campaign.
Understanding the limitations of social media marketing
Social media channels can certainly get you traffic, attention and links but keep in mind that a big part of your potential customers/readers may not know about or use these social websites. This is certainly the case for geo-specific small businesses.
If you’re a plumber in Los Angeles, they are not going to go on YouTube to find a plumber.
What you can do is to use dynamic content to set up multiple funnels that direct traffic and attention to your website. This may involve creating a blog and producing content which gives you an excuse to be disseminated on high traffic and wide-focus channels like YouTube or Digg.
Your sales page won’t fit in but a humorous article or video about a plumber’s trade is relevant to the general audience. The plumber is just an example. Most businesses will benefit from dynamic content which can be spread through online communities.
The marketing equation and strategy for small businesses goes something like this: social media visibility = brand awareness + word of mouth = new customer.
This is an indirect method to increase sales and your customer base. While extremely powerful as a tool to spread brand awareness, social media marketing should be integrated alongside traditional search marketing goals; you should always try to improve the visibility of your website in the search engine result pages.
Done correctly, social media marketing will get you more customers and increased sales. The results will just not be as immediate as direct response marketing.
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