The thing about writing on social media strategies is that, by the time you hit “send”, the picture has changed. It’s that fast. Develop a facebook strategy, and the kids have moved to Kik. Develop a LinkedIn strategy and along comes LinkedUp. Hashtag yourself into the next season, and Twitter is replaced by digg. So, what are you going to do? If the train is too fast, do you just take the slow train to the post office? Or, do you start running faster, catch up, and jump on!! Come on, let’s run!
The suggestion would be that you look at social media in a variety of ways. First, the sites may change, but the basic premise remains the same. Second, social media rewards the quick. Third, stay true to your target market customers and you will be fine. Fourth, integrate, integrate, integrate. Do not leave social media as its own little corner of the Marketing Department. Fifth, mesh your traditional Consumer Relations Department with your social media area. They are one and the same. And sixth? Listen! Keep your ears open. Use your social sites as a pond full of “improvement fish”. The customers are giving you instant, real-time feedback on what you are doing right now. Listen and use the data immediately.
” Use your social sites as a pond full of “improvement fish”. The customers are giving you instant, real-time feedback on what you are doing right now.”
Sites may change, but the basic premise remains the same. You are using social media because it is a game of ping-pong. A message goes out, a message comes back. You are interacting. You are connecting. You are engaging. Social media is not designed to be a one-way street. Remember, the basic premise of “opt-in” means any customer on your platform is already saying, “Please connect with me. I want in!” Include them. Send them samples, tell them what you are thinking, host blog fests, ask them how to improve your business, run connectivity contests. And, when they move from Snapchat to Instagram, go with them. For the most part, customers are “platform agnostic”. They are not loyal to anything but having the ability to connect. The premise always remains the same.
Social media rewards the quick. We have all heard of when Oreos tweeted about the lights going out in the Super Bowl, right? It was quick, timely, responsive, and a perfect example of how social media can build your brand’s image. It should be stressed that waiting for an ROI is the “stake in the heart”. You are not in social media for an ROI. You are there because your customers are there. A great lesson for your entire business: start with the customers and work your way back. Customers are quick, elusive, and agile. Be like them and they will want you to be part of their team. Be part of the solution for their lives, and you’ve built a long-term relationship.
Stay true to your target market customers and you will be fine. You developed a Millennial strategy for facebook and they all moved? Well, go where they are. Move with your target market. Hopefully, your product offering matches your target market. If so, then you need to speak the language. Your target market is a population between 60-80 years old, and you have a facebook strategy? Perfect. That’s the fastest growing demographic on that platform. Your target market and your social medium match! Staying true to your target market customers means you will always remain relevant in their eyes.
Integrate, integrate, integrate. It cannot be stressed enough, the social media aspect of your marketing message is as important as the print platform, the website, the in-store experience, and even the product assortment. Social media is to be integrated into the communication plan for any and all product launches, selling events, brand communication, or even public relations and sponsorships. It is a way to talk with your customers. Treat it as a language that deserves a seat at the table.
Mesh your traditional Consumer Relations Department with your social media area. They are truly one and the same. Why would anyone want to call you during “normal” business hours when they can post on Twitter immediately? It is your job to bring all “customer response” areas into modern times: customers are 24/7, customers want instant feedback and response, customers love to share their experiences with friends. Be there with them and they will reward you.
Listen! Yes, the sixth suggestion is about having your ears wide open. Listen to what the customers are saying on your networks and respond accordingly. If something is missing from their order and you can have the local store make it right for the customer in ten minutes, you’ve got a customer for life. You have an absolutely beautiful fresh fruit display that some customer felt compelled to share? Awesome! Reward the associate responsible, thank the customer, connect the two, make an associate feel like you notice them. Take care of your associates and they will take care of your customers. Listen to what is being said, do something with the information, thank the customer. It is a symbiotic feedback loop of success.
Social media has evolved in the last eight years, starting as a “fringe” area to connect with teenagers; and transforming into a strong base platform for communicating quickly, effectively, and essentially “having a conversation” with your customers. Bring it into the fold, and social media will be the gift that keeps giving.
Russell Zwanka is CEO and Partner at Triple Eight Marketing. Dr. Zwanka is also Adjunct Professor of Marketing at both Siena College and HVCC, in Albany, New York. Russell has led the merchandising, marketing, advertising, procurement, and all customer engagement areas for multiple organizations in the United States and Canada. Russell holds a Doctorate in International Business from the International School of Management in Paris, France. He also holds a Masters of Science in Management from Southern Wesleyan University, and a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from the University of South Carolina.
Russell has spoken at various events, including the Carnegie Mellon Social Media Conference, the University of Manitoba Marketing Conference, and the Argyle Executive Forum in New York City. Additionally, he has served on the IGA Retailer Advisory Board, the Consumer Goods Forum Marketing Committee, the Topco Operations Board, and the Nielsen Retailer Advisory Committee. Russell can be followed on Twitter at Rzwanka.
Additionally, Russell has published four books, including Requisite Reading for the Renaissance Retailer and Customer Connectivity in Global Brands and Retailers.
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