Don’t Take the Marketing Out of Your Social Media
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
After running one of my half day social media workshops a few months ago, I had some feedback. I was told that whilst the session was interesting, they were surprised that I had talked so much about marketing, whereas they’d expected me to talk more about social media. This is a problem I come across all the time. If you don’t see social media as just one part of a bigger marketing plan, you’re already limiting the results you will get.
In my workshop, the first thing I explore with attendees is what marketing actually is. So many people believe that marketing is about communications. But that’s just one element of it. To quote the Chartered Institute of Marketing: “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
Marketing is about customers. It’s about finding out what your customers want and need, perhaps even anticipating their needs in advance by understanding market changes, and then satisfying them in a way that is profitable. When you understand this, you can see that communications is only a way of getting the message out of what you’re doing. It’s not actually the purpose of marketing in itself.
So where does social media fit into this? How does social media in itself help you identify, anticipate and satisfy customer requirements? In my workshop this is what we explore. We actually look at the platforms and see how they fit into the larger picture that is marketing, so they become useful and meaningful, not just a place to post endless messages in the hope that someone will listen.
Let’s explore how you could use social media in a shrewder way to improve the way you deal with your customers.
Identify and Anticipating Customer Needs
When was the last time you actually identified the need for your products or services in the market? It’s quite simple that people won’t buy what they don’t want or need. So you must make sure that you are offering exactly what your clients want or need. Even if that means tweaking your products or services slightly.
Social media can help you here through social listening. Listen to what’s happening out there. Follow your customers, search through the hashtags of things that matter to them, see what your competitors are doing. Marketing is as much about listening and understanding as it is about talking and communicating. The more you listen, the more you’ll get to know the people you want to sell to and the market that you operate in. And that will arm you with vital information.
When you’ve listened, be wise with what you’ve learnt. Could you offer a discount based on a need that your clients are asking for? Could you launch a new product or service? Could you do one better than the competition? Is it just the perfect time for that well-crafted message? Rather than just ploughing straight in, you’re taking the time to see things clearly and reacting appropriately. That’s far more powerful.
Satisfying Customer Needs
Once you know exactly what your customers are looking for, you can then be cleverer with how you respond. Don’t just broadcast messages, flog items or try to spark a debate because you think it will get you noticed. You are now armed with knowledge, so tap into that.
What are the buzz words your customers are using? How can you adopt them into your marketing? Is there an event everyone is talking about? A certain day of the week or period month that is more important? How can you be part of the natural conversation surrounding the work that you do, rather than you trying to interrupt it?
In our modern world, people talk about disrupting things. It’s seen as the ideal situation. But it can actually be just as powerful to interact naturally in your customer’s world, so you feel like a friend or ally. Make them want to find out more about you because you’re weaving into their life very easily.
If you want success using social media, you must see it as part of your larger marketing mix. Never use it in isolation, and never have a separate ‘social media strategy’. If you understand that marketing is about identifying and satisfying customer requirements, then why have you got a separate strategy just for how you’re going to use an individual channel? It doesn’t make sense. Instead have a strategy for how you’re going to optimise on dealing with customers and then decide how social media, along with a range of other channels, will support you in doing that.
How confident are you in developing a marketing strategy? Often I’m told by people that they have a strategy, but all they’ll tell me is that they know what platforms they’re posting on and how often they’re going to do it. None of this helps to identify and satisfy customer requirements. It’s choosing a channel and putting messages on it.
Being strategic will give you a much better chance of success because you’ll explore the whole picture before deciding on the right actions for you. It takes out all the guessing and will make you more focused on results.
If you’d like to follow a simple step by step guide on how to build a strategy that will give you effective results, please take a look at my marketing book. You can even read it for free on Kindle Unlimited.