Your clients are now using social media as a primary communication tool. Whether it is a collaborative project platform, blogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual game worlds or virtual social words (Haenlein & Kaplan, 2010), there now exists a plethora of social media platforms. But how do you engage your audience in a space where there is so much competition? How do you also avoid disaster at the same time?
Social media, and its usage, has become a catch 22 for many companies. As they navigate how to use the technology, select their platform and design campaigns to attract and build a customer base.
There are many writers, bloggers, social media gurus who say they have the solution – that they’ve solved the rubrik cube of social media but really it is more that there exists a general formula to creating engaging content, gaining an audience and keeping the audience. It is comprise of two rules: pick a platform and be active.
Pick a Platform
The first thing you, as a company, need to decide is which platform(s) to use. “You simply cannot participate in them all…Choosing the right medium for any given purpose depends on the target group to be reached and the message to be communicated” (Haenlein et al., 2010, p. 65). Take for example SteelMaster, a manufacturer of prefabricated steel buildings, by using Facebook they were able to post pictures of their steel buildings not only to engage existing customers but also attract customers who may have never thought to use a steel structure before (Mashable, 2010). Then you had Neenah Paper, a manufacturer of high-quality paper products, that was having a hard time reaching potential clients using conventional methods – employing Twitter allowed them to engage with designers, graphic artists and printers more easily (Mashable, 2010).
However, you need to avoid falling into the trap of choosing the wrong social media platform to host your campaign. Different social media platforms have different capabilities just as different companies have different needs. For example, JP Morgan’s social media disaster, #AskJPM, where they used Twitter to allow their audience to ask questions to the president was hijacked by reporters, pundits and critics (Business Insider, 2013). Twitter was a medium that allowed for up-to-second updates and quick 140-character ridicule with little to no moderation.
Furthermore, just because one style of campaign worked in the past, (for example, a customer liking your Facebook page to receive a coupon), doesn’t mean it will work again or for that matter even be the most effective way to engage your audience. “Think of new ways to approach old material, rather than simply believing that you can repeat past successes” (SocialMedia Today, 2011).
Not only is it important to pick a platform that is cost effective and fits your business model you also need to choose one you can effectively manage. Peter Thomas (2011) of SocialMedia Today points out that even an author who contributes valuable articles to a community still needs to maintain a consistent and constant online, social media presence otherwise people will look elsewhere. A company needs to make the time to write and use their chosen social media platform properly in order to engage with their audience. Social media is about sharing and interaction, so by ensuring that your content is always fresh and taking the time to update consistently you attract and retain your audience.
Looking at social media successes and disasters is one way to identify how to develop a strong social media presence but the medium has to fit the message. I think what one needs to take from all this is that there is no cookie cutter solution. Whatever platform you choose to use you have to justify it. For example, advertising on Twitter can be done three ways according to Jeff Bullas (2013):
- Promoted tweets
- Promoted accounts
- Promoted trends
But that doesn’t work for everyone. Some people look at other metrics, such as their retweets and follower count as a way to not only measure their popularity but also their reach. Social media is not merely a way to advertise but also a way to gain notoriety. I am usually more drawn to companies that create compelling content and build themselves a dedicated brand audience then ones that shamelessly advertise.
But it all comes back to choosing a platform that attracts your desired audience and one that you can manage. It is almost common knowledge that if you choose to use Twitter you’re supposed to post multiple times a day in order to hit different time zones and rise above the noise. Consider the following:
- The average person on twitter sends 22 tweets per day
- The highest percentage of retweets happens around 5pm est
- The highest percentage of people who click on links happens between noon and 6pm est
- Twitter links get the most attention towards the end of the week and on the weekends (Spokal, 2013).
You need to know how to leverage your platform.
But then there’s also the fact that people are only going to follow you or interact with you if the tweet appears in their stream or they want to actively see what you’ve posted in the last ten hours.
The bottom line is that regardless of platform you must always consider the lifetime value of what you post; is it valuable and is it current.
Business Insider. (2013). JP Morgan scraps its latest social media push after a 6-hour long Twitter disaster. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/jpm-scraps-the-ask-jpm-hashtag-2013-11
Haenlein, M., & Kaplan, A. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53, 59 -68.
Jeffbullas.com. (2013). Powerful case studies that show you how to advertise on Twitter. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/03/16/3-powerful-case-studies-that-show-you-how-to-advertise-on-twitter/
Mashable. (2010). 5 Surprising Social Media Business Success Stories. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://mashable.com/2010/05/21/surprising-social-media-business-success/
Project eve. (2013). Social Media Professionals, Stop Using Big Words! Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.projecteve.com/social-media-professionals-stop-using-big-words/
SNES HUB. (2013). Beginning a Retro Video Game Collection. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://playingwithsuperpower.com/beginning-a-retro-video-game-collection/
SocialMedia Today. (2011). 4 [Social Media] Failures and a Success. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://socialmediatoday.com/peterjthomas/316205/four-social-media-failures-and-success
Spokal. (2013). The complete guide of how often to post, tweet, and facebook for your small business. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.getspokal.com/the-complete-guide-to-how-often-to-post-tweet-facebook-for-your-small-business/
techlunatic. (2011). Good Blogs Every Online Marketing Person Must Read. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from
Youth & Peacebuilding. (2013). Youth, Justice and Social Media Activism. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.youthpolicy.org/peacebuilding/2013/09/youth-justice-and-social-media-activism/