Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations. Yes indeed, Seth Godin. Is your business employing social media to engage customers and encourage the right sort of conversations? The changing social media landscape is surely making it difficult to keep up, isn’t it? But keep up you must, to stay ahead of the constantly changing and moving parts.
In recent years, the sheer number of social media marketing channels and options has overwhelmed more than a few small business owners. Factor in the current mélange of tools, technologies, and operational requirements, and marketing has begun to resemble nothing less than a three-dimensional chessboard. It’s critical to identify the sharp touch points that actually allow marketers to connect with consumers.
Before we continue, let me ask you a question.
What social media design techniques work best for your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.
With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.
Defining a social media strategy to socially engage customers to build better customer relationships is particularly challenging these days because the rules are continuously changing. A decade ago or so, businesses mostly sought to create buzz and increase brand awareness. Now they need to build compelling customer experiences that keep them engaged.
However, the old ways have not entirely disappeared, they have just expanded in size and scope. Here are 5 new additions to the social media landscape that small businesses need to incorporate into their marketing strategies quickly.
Media landscape … social listening
Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the Internet.
Both social media and person-to-person information-gathering have value, but social media listening is quickly becoming a valuable customer intelligence tool. There are several ways to use social media to gain insight, including monitoring online customer support forums, using software tools to gather comments.
In an enterprise, social media monitoring tools can mine text for specific keywords on social networking websites and blogs and in discussion forums and other social media. Essentially, control software transposes particular words or phrases in unstructured data into numerical values which are linked to structured information in a database so the data can to be analyzed with traditional data mining techniques.
Here is an explosive example of social media listening where KLM used Twitter to add a flight to its roster.
It all started when a Dutch filmmaker tweeted his disappointment about the lack of a direct flight from Amsterdam to Miami. Specifically, he was looking for a hangover-reducing direct flight to/from the Ultra Music Festival taking place in Miami on March 21st, 2011. A KLM rep rapidly responded with a wager – if the filmmaker could book an entire flight (351 seats) before December 6th, KLM would add the non-stop flight to its schedule.
Beyond all expectations, the resulting campaign Fly2Miami sold out the entire flight within 5 hours.
Media landscape changes … data driven marketing
At its core, data-driven marketing centers on one thing and one thing only: creating value by engaging customers more effectively. That may sound straightforward at first, but the task is anything but simple, and it’s becoming more and more sophisticated every day. New technology and digital disruption is throwing the physical world into disorder and on the flip side, customers are more demanding than ever before.
Most marketers already leverage data, of course: customer service data, customer satisfaction data, digital interaction data and demographic data. But the new era of data-driven marketing combines collecting and connecting larger amounts of data, rapidly analyzing it and gaining insights, and then bringing those insights to market via marketing interactions tailored to what’s relevant for each customer.
Small businesses need to combine the traditional data their companies have collected with communication data (like data pulled from social media), integrating both online and offline data sources to create a single view of their customer. They also need to glean and apply customer insights from this data.
Changing social media landscape … social commerce
Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.
More succinctly, social commerce is the use of social network(s) in the context of e-commerce transactions.
The concept of social business was developed by David Beisel to denote user-generated advertorial content on e-commerce sites, and by Steve Rubel to include collaborative e-commerce tools that enable shoppers to get advice from trusted individuals, find goods and services and then purchase them.
Customers today engage with businesses in many different ways, leading to numerous touch points and tremendous opportunities for positively influencing their customer experience. If one considers the hundreds of interactions each client has throughout his/her lifecycle with a company, how do you define a customer experience to focus their limited resources?
Here are some examples of ways to engage customers socially by talking about the positive aspects of business and work:
Pleasure of meeting and talking … with different people every day
Rewards … that come from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
Fun and laughter … in a relaxed and healthy work environment
The fascination in work itself … and in the other people’s work and businesses
Great feeling … when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
New things … you learn every day – even without looking to do so
How is the media landscape changing … visual design
We could say that visual design in one of the new aspects of the new social media landscape, but that would be incorrect by a few miles. It has been expanded however. Visual design focuses on the aesthetics of social media and just about all elements of media. It is about strategically implementing images, colors, fonts, and other design elements. A successful visual design does not take away from the content on many media. Instead, it enhances it by engaging users and helping to build trust and interest in the brand.
A successful visual design applies these elements and effectively brings them together in a way that makes sense. When trying to figure out how to use the essential elements consider:
Unity has to do with all items on a page visually or conceptually appearing to belong together. Visual design must strike a balance between unity and variety to avoid a dull or overwhelming design.
Space is defined when something is placed in it, according to Alex White in his book, The Elements of Graphic Design. Make white space an important part of your layout design.
Hierarchy shows the difference in significance between items. Designers often create hierarchies through different font sizes, colors, and placement on the page. Usually, items at the top are perceived as most important.
Balance creates the perception that there is equal distribution. This should not always imply that there is symmetry.
Contrast focuses on making items stand out by emphasizing differences in size, color, direction, and other characteristics.
Scale identifies a range of sizes; it creates interest and depth by demonstrating how each item relates to each other based on size.
Dominance focuses on having one element as the focal point and others being subordinate. This is often done through scaling and contrasting based on size, color, position, shape, etc.
Visual design is not about what a piece is saying literally through words, but it is everything about what a piece is saying visually and emotionally–solely through appearance.
Here is a four minute Samsung ad with 15-20 new features shown for their iPhone. No talking. And so simple that you quickly grasp the features and don’t lose interest. And the coordinated music has a way to keep you tied in. Creating customer interest doesn’t get any simpler than this, does it? A very simple, yet entertaining design, don’t you think?
This ad subtly grabs and holds attention based on a great music sound track, no speaking, and a total reliance of superb visuals. Letting the visuals totally carry the messages.
Creating customer interest doesn’t get any simpler than this, does it? A very simple, yet entertaining design, don’t you think?
Social media channel integration
Social media channels should work seamlessly to promote your online brand.
The findings a new study from global analytics firm Frost & Sullivan, titled Analyzing Customers’ Social Voices, show that the most crucial trend in social media analytics is cross-channel integration.
Brendan Read, ICT industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said social media analytics has the capacity to show most of the almost unobtainable information about consumer behavior and the more extensive market. And more companies will adopt it as they carry out multiple campaign strategies to offer a stable, valuable, profitable customer experience across all channels.
Related material: Some Great Story and Storytelling Examples to Study
By integrating social and social media into your site you can: add relevance, amplify your ability to create word of mouth marketing, enhance your site’s ‘stickiness,’ and build better relationships with your customers.
Consider these social media marketing tips for the integration of social media channels:
Enable feedback … of all types, including reviews, comments, dialog. And of course, this takes lots of conversation on your part.
Employ games … an excellent means to amplify customer engagement. Many types of games to choose from and put to use.
Maintain … fresh, up to date material. It takes a lot of effort but the payoffs are significant.
Collaborate with customers … create, curate, exchange ideas and solicit their material. Their involvement can make a world of difference.
Employ … what you have learned from your insights. This will be a key component of your website refresh strategy.
So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is entirely up to you. But believe in the effectiveness of social media and word of mouth marketing. And put it to good use.
It’s up to you to keep improving your social media marketing efforts.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And this struggle gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
Need some help in capturing more customers from your marketing strategies? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential clients?
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All you get is what you bring to the fight. And this struggle gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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