Social media often induces panic in the boardroom. Taking advice from their children and looking at the competition, managers and directors decide that the company needs a social media presence. The problem is, they don’t actually know why, and so begins the vicious circle of self-perpetuating social media, one where the means becomes an end in itself.
Before long, posts fly out across Twitter. The company finds they have an audience and a digital marketing manager is recruited. Followers, favourites, and retweets reach unexpected heights. Competitors are overtaken, backs are slapped, and sales are up. Like the sunspots that affect inflation, cause and effect are demonstrated, but never proven.
So your company has an audience – well done. But do you actually know who you’re talking to?
That is the first question to ask of any social media presence. Remember, you don’t just want an audience, you want one that delivers a return on your investment. You’re looking for a valuable audience: quality, not quantity, of followers.
Invest the necessary time to go through your list of followers, however large, and segment your audience. Quickly, you’ll find that 10,000 followers becomes 6,000 as you remove suppliers, competitors, employees, friends, and neighbours. Spam and the unexplained bring this to 4,000; of these, 2,500 are current customers, 1,000 potential customers, and 500 former customers. A few hours of work and your audience isn’t half the size you thought, but at least you know who it is.
Now the real work begins.
Understanding your audience is key to creating a social media strategy that delivers value. What are you aiming to do? Increase loyalty and spend amongst current customers? Find new customers? Regain former customers? A mixture of all three perhaps? With your audience segmented, you count favourites and retweets amongst the followers who matter for your strategy and, therefore, measure the true impact of your posts.
Social media, like all marketing activity, requires justification – a return on investment. You wouldn’t buy ad space in an unknown magazine, so why post your message and pour your investment into a potential virtual void? Understanding your audience is key to maximising your success on social media and generating a return for your business.