Marketing is the set of activities that connect a company’s business goals to the creation of the sales that achieve those objectives. Most business owners and managers agree that social media will be (if it is not already) an inevitable part of their marketing mix – what they are not sure of is how this will work for them.
The challenges in companies we talk to centre round these four areas;
1. The Customer.
Understanding the voice of the customer tends to be an internal viewpoint (usually sales) rather than any research carried out online (e.g. ‘listening’ to customer segments in the social channels).
The customer is becoming more powerful through their increased knowledge and the influence of others in their online communities; there is also an increase in the rate of customer disloyalty – always more evident in times of recession. Yet for most companies, there is a real resistance to changing the way they market to their target audience.
A perennial marketing challenge for companies is to effectively segment their customer database and aim targeted and relevant information to them.
2. The Social Media Strategy.
Often developed in isolation to other marketing activities with little integration shown. Often a strategy is non-existent and social media has been started in a company as a reactive or tactical measure because the feel they ought to be doing it.
Little thought is given to building the foundation of the content generation strategy – yet this is the first consideration when looking to use this as a marketing tool. Depending on the company this can range from being be a fairly simple task to a complex approach involving many people.
3. Social Media Distribution.
Which platforms to distribute social media content to, and how to lever that content through enabling the technologies that exist, is a function of several considerations. Where are your prospective customers? What processes and budgets are available? What reach do we want for our content distribution? What skill sets are available within the company? And so on
4. Contribution to Sales Revenue.
What needs to be measured and how can social media contribute to sales? Part of this answer lies with managing the sales and marketing funnel, understanding all the interactions and touch points that take place with prospective customers.
Does the social media strategy interact and engage with customers and follow them though their buying decision journey – or in reality is the social media carried out geared towards ‘shouting one way’ about the company’s products and services?
The answer to these challenges is ‘one-step-at-a-time’. Look at the overall picture and understand why you are using social media and what you want from it. See how social media fits within the company’s marketing and sales approach and the target market and then plan for how it will contribute to lead generation.
The key, as always, is planning and a clear picture of what you want to achieve.