Is Your Social Media Working Hard as a Marketing Channel? Take This Test to Find Out
January 15, 2023
It’s widely accepted that social media can be an effective communications tool. Less understood is its power as a marketing channel.
In other words, social media can be used to generate new business leads and turn good customers into great customers. Making social media work harder as part of your marketing arsenal takes concerted effort … it’s hard to do without having a plan and working consciously to implement it.
As you think about social media for marketing, ask these questions of your company or organization’s social media strategy:
Do your social media posts invite interaction, or are they mainly intended as one-way communications you push out and walk away from?
Nobody likes a relationship when it’s a one-way street. In fact, it’s not a relationship.
The highest and best use of social media is as shared media. That is, communication that invites interaction from existing customers and prospects.
Posts should be carefully crafted to induce interaction. While some posts might make your audience stop and smile, others can be more thought-provoking. The goal is to get people to react so they want to know more, or click, tag or share something that they find interesting, useful or worth talking about. That’s engagement!
If you’re using social media exclusively to push information out and not inviting interaction, you’re only scratching the surface of what social media can do as a marketing tool.
Do your posts come across as personal and genuine, or “canned” like advertising?
The nature of social media as shared media drives its conversational tone. To state the obvious, a conversational tone invites reciprocal conversation. You want that to make social media work as hard as it can as marketing.
By contrast, posts that sound overly formal or super-salesy like advertising copy are perceived to be less real and authentic, and are less likely to generate interaction. Talk to your audience like you would real people in professional situations.
Do your posts include short-form videos?
We are turning into a TikTok world, where users spend more time watching short video content than reading traditional narrative posts. Short-form videos (usually between 30 seconds and three minutes) can be an incredibly powerful tool — videos that are short enough to hold a viewer’s attention span, but long enough to get your message across in an engaging way.
Compared to static images, short-form video posts on social media are more engaging and tend to attract more likes, shares and reactions. In fact, short-form video is the most popular digital marketing tactic among marketers, with more than one-third using it, as well as the most effective, having the highest ROI, according to HubSpot.
Before producing content, determine your objective, identify your targets, set the creative direction and establish the call to action. One of the advantages of short-form videos is that graphics need not be studio quality to be authentic. In fact, they may have more “cred” if they are not the highest production value.
Creating video content can seem overwhelming and feel intimidating at first, but it is well worth it. Lights, camera, action!
Does your social media mobilize employees and customers, including by leveraging user-generated content?
Don’t you love when customers are happy with your product or service and share their happiness with their followers on social media? Of course you do! It’s because a customer testimonial is perceived to be more authentic and trusted than you talking about how great your company is (smile).
Social media campaigns that include user-generated content from customers and employees see 50% higher engagement online, Meltwater says.
Encourage more customer and employee-generated content so that not everything posted and shared on company channels emanates from the marketing department. (There are many ways to do this. CRELIX can help you develop a program.)
Are you paying to expand the reach of your social media posts?
Increasingly, and generally speaking, social media platforms share your content with fewer and fewer people. In other words, it’s more of a closed loop.
The way to reach more new prospects is to “boost” posts so they're seen by people who don’t follow your accounts but are likely to be interested in your product or service. Even though it’s paid advertising, boosted posts can be cost-effective and still look like your regular informational posts.
Plus, since you’ve taken the time to create interesting, quality content, you’re leaving value on the table if you only share it with your existing stakeholder universe. Paying to promote posts makes the content work harder by sharing it with more people.
Are your posts, at least some of them, serialized?
A serial, or a series, is just that: Content broken up into multiple installments.
Think about how much we get hooked on series, be it a television show or a series of events that you participate in, or even a comic strip. Series draw us in and hold our attention because we like the characters, the plot, the subject matter, the sense of humor …
Social media posts can be serialized, too, and to the extent they hook people they can turn good customers into great customers and draw prospective customers into a marketing funnel.
Think about how you can take one great idea or expansive topic that reinforces your organization’s brand value — even how customers use a particular product — and develop connected posts that feed and build off each other … turning what otherwise might be arbitrary content into into a series of quality, original, shareable, authoritative posts.
Plus, by scheduling regular installments, serialization has the power to create anticipation for your content and keep people coming back for more.
CRELIX can help you make the most of social media as a marketing and communications channel. As important, we can help you determine the appropriate level of effort and resources to devote to social as part of your overall marketing and communications mix.
This social media marketing test was inspired by our friends at Meltwater, a third-party media intelligence service. They recently held a webinar on social media trends and best practices heading into 2023 … and it got us thinking!