Social media has become a well-established marketing tool for brands big and small, but many business leaders still struggle to understand how to use it and how it fits into their companies’ overall marketing strategies. That was the topic addressed by a panel of Baton Rouge, Louisiana-area marketing professionals yesterday at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s monthly lunch.
One of the main challenges involved with social media adaptation is bridging the old way of marketing with the new way, said Object 9 CEO Jon Cato. Senior-level leaders who hold control over budgets are used to more traditional methods, which can cause conflict when new, possibly younger, employees join the business and want to use new technology and tactics.
Social media allows companies to improve their methods of message tailoring to connect their brands with their audiences, said Stan Levy, founder, president and CEO of FUSE. However, this requires being adaptable and allowing for changes in content and strategy.
Social media channels are entries to the marketing funnel, not necessarily a marketing destination, explained Zehnder Communications Social Media Director Blake Killian. Using them helps get the content companies are creating and sharing in front of their audiences.
Which Social Media Channels Should Businesses Use?
One lunch attendee asked panelists how to decide which social media channels are the most important for a business to use. Killian and Cato’s response: The most important channels are the ones your company’s clients and audience members pay attention to.
Social media marketing isn’t about what’s easiest for the business or the company’s marketing team, it’s about the audience they’re trying to reach, Killian explained. But marketing also requires companies know their limitations. For example, your audience may like high-quality videos, but you won’t be able to provide them if you don’t have the necessary resources to do so. Situations like this require a compromise to reconcile your limitations with your audience’s desires.
Preparation Is Key to Social Media Marketing Success
The same audience member then asked the panelists to discuss the concept of reputation capital. Cato responded by urging marketers to accept that they cannot control the Internet. Once people can get past that, they can move on to showing their customers that there’s someone out there trying to make them happy.
To stay prepared for problems that can arise on the Internet, Killian explained how he and his clients sit down and map out a variety of “what if” scenarios before making a marketing move.
Preparation is key to every marketing strategy, agreed Stuart Feigley, partner and creative director at WrightFeigley Communications. He offered the example of the 2013 Super Bowl when lights went out. In response, Oreo sent a tweet with an ad saying “you can still dunk in the dark.” This was great marketing with a great response time to an event they could never have predicted.
How to Find Your Company’s Audience
Lunch ended with some advice on how companies can find and get to know their audiences. MESH principal and Director of Creative Strategy Taylor Bennett suggested using comment cards at a restaurant to learn consumers’ favorite ways to receive information. He also suggested companies find someone on staff who is a good writer to help with content creation, and to make content more thoughtful and geared toward what their audience wants.
Feigley recommended listening to the conversations going on around you — both in real life and online. This includes turning on Google alerts to get all of the comments your audience is making, even the negative ones. In addition, he recommended marketers commit to working with social media for a longer period of time. That means trying out a strategy, evaluating it after several months, and then adjusting it according to your results.
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