Many of the people doing social media marketing today are, to be honest, playing ‘bets’ with it and as a result, they are getting nothing out of the marketing channel except statistics!
Like I was a couple of years ago before taking digital marketing education and research seriously, a good number of social media executives today are doing at least one of the following;
- Posting whatever they consider nice and hoping that someone might click ‘like’, take money from the bank and hand it to them, their employer/client.
- Shooting for mass engagement through trend-jerking and regular publishing and paid promotion of ‘slay-content’ with the hope that ‘any kind of positive engagement’ might directly translate into sales or at least make the employer/client happy.
- Running social media pages with purely PR-content; company updates and expecting leads and sales to grow.
Whereas all of the above are nice things to do, one thing is almost certain; they won’t translate into sales, no, not at a time when the customer has so many options.
Through several rounds of data analytics, client interviews and continuous study, I have come to understand that the greatest reason as to why a lot of social media marketing does not work is because of poor understanding of the target audiences, their interests, challenges and values.
By nature, social media is a digital content marketing platform and doing content marketing means we are delivering content that is of value to a specific (target) audience with the aim of producing profitable customer action.
But if we do not even have realistic pointers to who these people are, how can we know what kind of content might be of value to them? No way? Guesswork? Gambling?
After a couple of not-so-good results back in the day, I and the team at dreamstar digital came up with a framework for identifying ideal target audiences social media and today I thought I should leak it.
By asking questions
The first thing we do with any new account is interview 10-15 of the client’s existing or former customers/users. Apart from seeking to know their experience with our client’s product or service, we attempt to get to understand their occupation, favourite digital communications channels, marital status, financial muscle, wishes, desires and challenges in relation to the solution our client offers.
This kind of information helps us know what kind of messages we got push out in order to get the attention of the right people; the ones most likely to convert into customers.
By analyzing historical data
Next up is reading through both explicit and implicit data from existing customers.
Entities like banks collect a lot of data from their customers during registration and through the time the customers bank with them. This usually ranges from age, occupation, marital status, residence and sometimes monthly income as well.
In addition, through the use of other banking channels like the mobile banking app, the bank is able to understand with precision their customers and by extension their most likely prospects’ affinity for technology.
For the banking sector, in particular, you find that some products appeal more to tech-savvy audiences than the others. However, instead of going by assumptions, using real data to match products to target audiences will always yield much higher results, even when you have just 30 days ‘to prove yourself’.
This kind of analysis saves us the hustle of guessing audience interests and wasting time and money on a kind of social media content marketing that doesn’t add value to the business and might even annoy potential customers.
Earlier this year we were charged with managing a tourism account (Apartments Leonia) for one month. The task involved creating a website and optimizing social media and e-listings (TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway and others) for the property.
The property was new so we had no way of getting real customer insights (by way of interviews), explicit or implicit data analysis.
Using insights from previous accounts we started optimizing the channels, designing a launch-pad website and blog. At the same time, we were curating and sharing on social media, third-party content on topics we thought ideal customers might like. Our goal of doing this was to find validation for our assumptions and indeed we did get confirmations on the content and experiences target audiences desired, so early into the poroject.
As a result, within 2 weeks we launched a business-ready website and blog and the first booking of $700 (seven hundred US Dollars) was realized within the same week of the launch.
Using data from similar brands (competitors)
Now, this is not one of my favourites but I have seen it work.
At some point, we realized that most leads for our financial services client were coming from a specific competitor with complaints and bad reviews about that particular competitor.
What we did was, visit the competitor’s public profiles, read through user complaints (read; reviews and comments) and made a secret report. That report was the arsenal we used to launch an indirect campaign targeting the competitor’ customers because, well, we knew what their key challenges (with our competitor) were.
Insights from the competition are often so powerful and can save you tonnes of money and time. Remember Africell’s ‘Don’t be Cheated Wednesdays’ vs ‘MTN Gaga Bundles’? You know what I’m talking about.
Creating look-alike audiences
I am tempted to say that this one is for beginners. Well, it isn’t entirely for beginners anyway.
If you have a well engaged social media audience (that also convert into buyers) but it is small, you can use free tools provided by advertising platforms like Facebook business manager to target other people the system understands have similar interests with those who already follow or previously engaged with your brand/business online. This is like a short-cut to research and I have often seen it deliver well.
However, if your existing audiences (including non-subscribed audiences; people who engaged but are not following the pages) did not translate into leads or buyers, it is likely that look-alike audiences of the same won’t translate into leads or customers.
The earliest followers of dreamstar digital on Facebook we’re youngsters who wanted to master ‘Facebook marketing’, but we somehow did not pay attention to that. About a year into the business we created look-alike audiences and targeted them with website design offers. The results were as you would expect – nothing but crappy.
My experience with social media marketing is that once one has got a clear picture of their target audience; certain of their demographics, values, needs and desires, reaching them with the right content and engaging them becomes like a religious dating experience.
You can’t run out of valuable content, and you won’t always need much money to make them smile.