Recently, I’ve been tasked with defining benchmarks for a number of clients who are interested in utilizing social media, and others that already have a presence but would like guidance on how to find a common ground for their messaging. I’ve become fairly proficient at analyzing communications online, and below I’ll share some of the ideas that have helped me explain to clients the need for a clear message through social media. These are, essentially, step by step instructions on how to approach your brand’s online identity.
Research Effective Social Media Program Drivers
In order to understand how your brand’s social media channels should be used, a “landscape analysis” can determine how competitors engage with consumers online. Such analysis can identify a recurring driver such as loyalty, awareness or customer service, i.e., the metric that your competitors hope to increase using online channels. Perform a simple search for your competitors’ profiles, take a look at what content they post and how often and take a rough measurement of how engaged they are with consumers.
Determine Audience Relationship with Your Brand
As part of any social media rollout plan, it is important to determine congruencies, develop a plan of attack, and define a common message that will be promoted to your key consumers.
Will you provide information based on your industry? Will you offer promotions and giveaways? How involved will you be in consumer conversations of your brand?
You should examine these questions in order to classify who you will be engaging with online. Engagement groups are usually based on consumer brand loyalty and awareness, defined by a hierarchy of:
- Those who know nothing about your brand
- Those who are aware of your brand but have not purchased your product/service
- Those who have purchased your product/service only a few times
- Those who are repeat customers or enthusiasts
- Those who are advocates for your brand
Determine Audience Involvement on Social Media
If your brand is already using social media, you may need to first analyze how your communications have developed thus far. For example: if you find that you have been interacting with an older segment of consumers, the cohesive message developed should adopt a more professional, informational tone. If the audience is a younger group, you can design messaging and content that takes advantage of trends and pop culture. Beyond demographics, you should determine how your consumers contribute to online conversation. This can be described in Forrester’s Social “Technographics” Ladder:
Determine a Suitable Tone for Your Brand in One-On-One Communications
For the general audience of social media users, engagement is divided into two silos: fun and information. Users approach social media as a means to converse with brands and seek promotions (fun) or to learn about a topic and seek others’ opinions (information). Research can determine which role your brand’s social media communications should pursue.
Once you have your audience defined, the next step is to look within. What is your brand’s identity? What individualizes the brand? If you can answer these questions offline, expanding to social media will be relatively simple. Having the ability to answer these questions creates a presence of credibility and personality for your company, which some the world’s most successful brands utilize. To illustrate this point, here are a few examples from other brands:
- Apple = Innovation
- Wal-Mart = Savings
- Volvo = Safety
- Nordstrom’s = Personalized Customer Service
I hope this info helps you define you or your clients’ goals on social media! As you’ve probably heard before, social media is a conversation. Listen to your customers, and they’ll tell you what they want to hear.