One of the common misconceptions about the use of social media for marketing is that there is a single ‘magic formula’ that, if followed, will lead to easy success. Whilst digital marketing is accessible to all, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be using it the same way.
I’ve interviewed a few organisations who are completely disillusioned by social media because they have been advised that if they do X, Y will happen, and when it doesn’t they are put off digital media all together. This (bad) advice is typically based on the ‘one size fits all’ model of social media marketing, which is unlikely to work for the majority of businesses.
One size does not fit all
Consider these two example organisations:
- a local clothing retailer targeting teenagers
- a consultancy business targeting national and international business decision-makers
A social media plan developed for one for is never going to work for the other. Their objectives, proposition and target markets are too different. One is trading clothing items, the other is sharing expertise. One is local, the other global. Their tone of voice and objectives will be different. Their target audiences won’t be using the same social networks, have the same needs or be behaving in the same way. Each business requires their own digital marketing plan tailored to their specific needs.
Use best practice guidance in context
There are clearly some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for each social media channel, and some great case studies of what has worked for other businesses. There’s also a wealth of best practice guidance available online from some leading thinkers. Such guidance should be taken on board by anyone planning to use social media as part of their mix, but it should always be taken in context of your organisation’s own marketing needs and adapted accordingly. How, for instance, would a social media guru in the USA know what the right frequency/timing of tweets is for my UK based business? Do they know my target audience like I do?
Create your own social media strategy
There are so many social networking sites that are available for businesses and marketers to use, that selecting the right one(s) forms one of the first steps of any social media plan. That resolves one question, but exactly how you use the channel is equally important. Are you sharing useful resources, creating a community or offering special offers? Being clear about your objectives, and planning how you intend to interact with your audience are critical steps towards social media effectiveness.
So next time you are advised that you must do X, Y or Z, take the time to relate it back to your business objectives and adapt it to meet your needs. Otherwise, you are delivering someone else’s marketing plan, and not your own.