By Gavin Coetzee and Heather Allers
It was a conference that promised concrete tips and actionable knowledge that attendees could apply to get results in their business and with the title, ‘The Power of Two: How to get maximum results with social media and email marketing’, it followed through on its initial vision. As Leander pointed out in the opening introductions, social media marketing fits into the digital marketing ecosystem. It’s how you use the two as part of a multi-channel marketing operation where the true magic comes in.
However, to say that engaging online is simple is a fallacy. It is about ensuring that your message is not only heard, read and watched but also engaged with. In fact, engagement could be listed as the most important of the four mentioned. For Leander, this ‘engagement’ is achieved through a five-step plan, which aims to better community and recipient engagement by developing shareable content. But then again, that is what social media aims to provide – content that you want to share. In order to do that, you need to step into the world of audio and video.
While social media may still seem a daunting option, there is every reason to attempt it. However, as Leander pointed out during his presentation, even with direct engagement, it needs to be more than just an empty message. The last thing you want is your audience thinking it is being spoon-fed. You also need to remember that you are playing to an audience that is far savvier than you could imagine. Such an audience needs to be actively (and continuously) engaged. Leander points to Facebook as a perfect example: 80% of new ‘likes’ never visit your page again.
Fortunately, it’s not all negative. In fact, as Leander pointed out, there are 19 things you can do to acquire subscribers and more fans. This includes quickly establishing critical mass for your activities on the various social network platforms and engaging with your audience and then also stimulating that audience to engage with others on your behalf. Then there is the importance of creating emotional (and thus credible) links between your brand and your target audience. As Leander reiterates, by achieving that, you will create content that is relevant to your audience. In focusing on producing content on social media that is relevant, you are likely to simultaneously create shareable content. And it doesn’t matter which industry your brand operates in.
Leander proved this through a series of break-away sessions, which focused on showing how LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube could work for business-to-business (B2B) organisations. Social networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook can be leveraged to find new customers while also retaining those that already exist. Leander pointed to how he has done this on Facebook. For him, it’s about focusing on meeting set objectives, including relevant and timely messages and adding compelling pictures and headlines that create emotional links.
If you don’t already play in the social media field but intend to do so soon, prepare to fall hard. Over 95% of businesses fail at social media because they are impatient when it comes to their ROI. One needs to understand that social media is not the same as your traditional channels. While it’s a channel where interaction and engagement can be instantaneous, in order to benefit from its full potential, you need to be in it for the long haul. If you start, understand that you can’t just stop whenever you want.
As Leander continued, don’t forget the golden rule of marketing – it is about "meeting your customers where they are" – you shouldn’t assume they are all on social media. There is a mistake that when people think online, they gravitate towards social media. While it may have the largest ‘market share’ online, it doesn’t encompass everything. Brands should have an online strategy that incorporates social media rather than a strategy that focuses purely on social media.
There is a huge difference between the mass media and social media age – this age is about sharing and dialogue. That said, you should engage with consumers, but only when you have something of value to say. You also need to remember that your focus should be on quality rather than quantity. Leander said the average attention span is only three minutes and 11 seconds. Add to this the fact that your target audience is exposed to roughly 6 000 advertising messages per day, and you’ll understand the need for content that is not only shareable but relevant, too.
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