No matter what type of marketing framework an organization follows, all companies use a business model that serves as a guide for achieving key strategic goals and objectives in a clear, concise, and budget-friendly manner. The business model for utilizing social media marketing strategies must be constructed in a specific way that may have some similarities to the model for traditional marketing but that tends to be its unique for many reasons.
•Driving blind doesn’t work. Just as corporations plan multi-million dollar traditional advertising campaigns, online social media marketing campaigns have to be just as well thought-out—maybe even more so. Know the target audience and craft a plan to engage them. Use a template to serve as a battle plan in terms of offensive and defensive maneuvers. You may want to benchmark some of the best strategies that have been used to reach out to your target audience as well as address the competition. However, this is simply a template and should serve as a basis for your battle plan rather than serve as your only battle plan.
•Know the audience and tailor messages but with the idea that others may also see and be interested in your brand, product, or service. This means taking that template and customizing it to fit your brand, its attributes, and your audience in terms of their desires and needs. Find out by studying the competition how you can set yourself apart and be unique among the many more companies now using social media marketing.
•Have a strategy that unites and harmonizes offline (traditional) and online social media messages, tactics, and tools. Keep both the traditional and online programs going simultaneously to reach more people with consistent messages that reinforce your brand messaging. This does not mean, however, that you have to be everywhere. Pick your spots (channels) that you feel most strongly about and focus on those while rotating through on some smaller channels as reinforcement.
•Engage, re-engage, and re-engage again. The customer is the messenger and brand advocate for products and services. First, let them know they have the power and then, let go of your tight hold on the reins and let them do what they do best. They will like knowing they are your advocates and that you are giving them the power. That means not editing comments (unless, of course, they are offensive) but letting them speak for themselves. They will come back again and again. That also means that you must let go of the message and realize that controlling everything about marketing is not going to work in the current and future consumer landscape. It’s about offering an idea, listening to the feedback, and having the customer promote the product or service.
•Be transparent and authentic. Consumers can spot a fake, a sales ploy, and unbelievable claims rather easily. Their reaction will be even worse as they are sure to tell whoever will listen about their horrible experience with a particular brand, product, or service. Online social media that succeeds above any other marketing medium does so when it is delivered in a straight-forward, engaging way. Otherwise, the companies that fail at online social media can be labeled as deceitful and malicious, thereby risking long-term ridicule and tarnished reputation.
•Be proactive and address any controversies immediately. Bad commentary travels quickly. A day in cyberspace is a month in traditional arenas. Prompt and decisive action can stop a public relations disaster that could last months and even years since it is very difficult to make news disappear on the Internet.
•Be flexible and fluid with a marketing strategy rather than following the rigid rules of traditional marketing. Trends, behaviors, and attitudes change instantaneously on the Web. Companies have to be prepared to make similar adjustments in real time. There is no luxury of time like those that used traditional marketing vehicles enjoyed.
Each of these social media marketing strategies can help a small business owner drive their own social media marketing success and leverage the power of this relatively new channel for reaching customers. Carefully consider how each of these strategies could be implemented and executed before you jump into the world of social media marketing as you want to make sure that you know where you are diving and how to navigate through those new waters.