I’ve been thinking lately, why have marketers transformed social media into a complicated tool that brands continually misuse and fail to integrate successfully into other marketing campaigns? The essence of social platforms is people authentically connecting with other people; it’s not supposed to be overly massaged or corporate. If brands want to connect with those people, they should do so in a straightforward and honest manner.

Forget about the one size fits all approach when it comes to integrating social channels into greater marketing campaigns – think about who your customers are, how they want to engage with your brand and what social channels they prefer to use, to interact with friends and brands (this will tell you where you need to be).

So, I offer some suggestions below of how we can better use social media channels. While some of these may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many of us are getting this area of our marketing completely wrong.

Know Your Strategy
What makes a brand a brand? A unified company message, viable objectives and goals and employees that share that same belief. Answer the questions:

  • What do you want to be on? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Myspace? All of the above?
  • How are these social channels mapping back to your business objectives?
  • What is your strategy for integrating all of these channels into one seamless voice, and how will you link it all back to your other major online properties?
  • How would you like your customers to describe you in their own words?

Strong Content
Understand your audience and customer base. While SAP’s customers may be intrigued by data and tactics for implementation of new enterprise software, David Jones’ audience may be more inclined to hear about deals, discounts and promotions. For social channels:

  • Keep posts brief, informative and light
  • This is not a place for company news, but for interesting and engaging content that your audience will value, and
  • Keep the perspective on what your customers want to hear or learn and not on what you want to market to them.

Personality
Promote engagement and create a community that reacts and interacts. After all, social channels are built around fostering community growth. When developing your voice:

  • Create an environment where people are encouraged to post their own content
  • Ask questions, participate, and most importantly, be human. Show some personality!
  • Be respectful of your community’s privacy, and
  • Offer value through relevant promotions and discounts.

Learn and Refine
No business does it perfectly the first time. Learn from your mistakes and successes and refine your social campaign strategy and tactics along the way. And most importantly:

  • Look at other companies who you believe are successful on social channels
  • Be willing to try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them, and
  • Realise that what doesn’t work today, might work tomorrow. And, what works today, may not work tomorrow. Keep measuring, analysing, and iterating.

This is my personal blog. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent those of my employer, Coremetrics.