Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail–Why Social Media Strategy Matters

“What is social media strategy?”

A social media strategy defines how your organisation will use social media to achieve its communications aims and the supporting platform and tools it will use to achieve this. At a basic level it’s a simple statement of intent, outlining the goals and measurable objectives for using social media, and the target outcomes you want to achieve.

gurdThis quote is taken directly from an article by James Gurd in an article entitled “6 Reasons Why You Need a Social Media Strategy”. Featured on Smart Insights (a website dedicated to helping businesses with integrated digital marketing advice), this article stresses the important that social media plays in a business’ success or failure. Since social media has become the predominant place for people to hold conversations, it would be unwise for businesses to ignore these channels of communication. Businesses need to stay connected to their customers and really listen to what they are saying. Also, social media is a great way to communicate back to customers.

Still not convinced? Gurd offers six essential reasons why businesses need a sound social media marketing strategy.

  • Social Web Growth

Gurd attributes the huge growth in social media usage to two factors

  1. Mobile access
  2. Older user adoption.

Regarding older user adoption, statistics show that the 65 and older demographic have been driving social media growth since 2013.

screen-shot-2015-10-12-at-15-47-15

In all other age demographics, social media remains steady.

  • Influenced Purchasing

When thinking about purchasing an item what is one of the first things you do? Read reviews of course! Gurd claims that 46% of social media users use social media when thinking about buying an item. They check and see what their friends, family, and even strangers are saying about a company and the desired item.

Peer recommendation has the most influence on holiday gift purchases, more than blogger or celebrity endorsement.

That’s a bold claim by Gurd, but one that rings true. Who would you rather trust? Brad Pitt or your best friend?

94efb753b5fa711f399d8ba72fe57062

Actually, don’t answer that.

  • Competitor’s Advantage

Without a social media marketing strategy, you’re simply handing your customers over to your competitors. They’ve taken the time to plan, research, review, investigate, and strategically place themselves in the social media market so that they can be the most attractive to their target audience. If you don’t do the same, not only will customers be flocking to your competitors, but also how do you know if you’re successful or not? Without a thorough plan, there is no way to measure your direction or growth (or if you’re growing at all). How will you know when to post, what to post, and (sometimes more importantly) what not to post? Don’t give your competitors an edge.

  • Social Customers

Quite simply, social media is where your customers are. So, isn’t that where you want to be? Often, social media users turn to places like Facebook for customer service. Below, I captured a screen shot of such a scenario (Windstream is an internet service provider):
windstreamAs you can see, a Windstream customer used Facebook as a means to contact customer service. A lot of people are reluctant to use telephones and are much more likely to text or leave messages on social media.

  • Key Influencers

As I mentioned before, peer reviews weigh heavily into a potential customer’s purchasing decisions. Often, when buying an expensive item (say a computer), customers turn to what’s known as “key influencers”. Often, these people are experts in their fields or post reviews on social media websites such as YouTube. Included in this list are also self-made video or Instagram “celebrities”. One such example is Nikkie (Nikkie Tutorials) who does makeup tutorials on YouTube.

nikkie

Some of her videos have over three million views and on YouTube alone she has six million followers. If you are a makeup company, plan to be a part of her world.

  • Reputation Risks

For some reason, social media seems to fan the flames of drama. Bad experiences and scandal spread like wildfire. If your company becomes the subject of this drama, you need to be present to administer damage control. Even better, you need a strategy in place to deal with such an issue before it happens. This is one great reason why a social media strategy plan is so very important. Don’t wait to come up with a plan when disaster hits; already have a plan in place.


Website Example: Scholastic

scholastic

Besides the fact that Scholastic is one of my favorite companies (no, they did not pay me to say that), Scholastic utilizes a great social media marketing plan. Scholastic has over 10 million followers over 50 social media accounts (you can view all the accounts here). It’s obvious that they know what they are doing. Impressively, Scholastic is careful to keep its content fresh across all 50 platforms and uses unique posts and tweets for each one. They even have a Twitter account for customer service needs. Scholastic plans new hashtags each week to stay engaged with its customers. For its Google+ account, it realized that more educators were using Google+, so they switched their focus on Google+ to be more educational (you can read more about Scholastic’s success in Ragan’s PR Daily article found here).

Scholastic’s detailed and extensive social media marketing plan has definitely paid off for the publishing giant.

As usual, leave your thoughts, comments, and questions below!

(original header image link can be found here. Images are not my own and are used for educational purposes only)
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