Social media: No longer an abstract asset?
Alastair Murray evaluates how firms can use social media in a positive way
The shift away from office to home working has forced literally every business in the world to review their business procedures and processes – it seems nothing will be quite the same again. The move to almost all digital communications during the covid crisis has woken everyone up to the idea of online media and its possibilities.
The adoption of any sort of social media marketing strategy has proved difficult for many firms in the past – and was often considered unnecessary, or even irrelevant, but now, firms are taking a fresh look and thinking maybe it is no longer such an impenetrable subject after all?
Some have found the transition from office to home working relatively straightforward – and are already using digital platforms to interact with their audiences. There is a growing acceptance that social media can now play a credible role in client communications.
What are the benefits?
With little or no option but to use digital communications over the past 18 or so months, firms have been encouraged by their clients’ engagement with their posts and shares. This growing acceptance of the role social media will play in the future has encouraged many to continue the experiment, with some beginning to plan their own strategies.
Digital communications – particularly social media – are being successfully used in other industry sectors – but now, more firms are in on the act, building their own social media credentials and running their own digital campaigns.
Attitudes are definitely changing, with a growing acceptance that social media and digital marketing as a whole is worth taking seriously, and not just for leaving to the youngest employee in the office to deal with.
The growth of digital media during the pandemic has firms buoyed up by the way clients have embraced their posts – and seem keen for more. Some firms are already well down the digital path, with social media marketing programmes, using all the networks – and drawing in existing and new audiences with useful and relevant content.
What are the key considerations?
The urge to create a broader presence online is becoming irresistible. With all the favourites on offer – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, firms are starting to create social media marketing strategies and asking the right questions on what is wanted from an integrated digital marketing programme
- What are the key business objectives in the next quarter, six months or year?
- What are the firm’s marketing objectives?
- Competitors and benchmarking?
- Audiences and clients: Existing and new?
- Personas: Ages, gender, demographics, location?
Spurred on by increasingly successful campaigns, firms are looking to grow their digital credentials and online brand, increase and broaden revenue streams, develop their business reputation for specific services – and the business as a whole.
Understanding the current audience is also important, with some firms already asking their clients’ likes and dislikes, and demographics such as their gender, ages, location, industry sector or profession, to build a profile for each of their clients.
What are firms’ usual options?
Facebook has a massive membership and holds more personal data than any other platform – particularly of people aged between 25 to 40 – and is great for discussions, live video, and adverts. Instagram, with an average age range of 18 to 35, is good for sharing content, culture, tone setting – and broadcasting. LinkedIn is most often used for business connections and networking, popular with ages 18 and 30, is good for news and jobs – and is the most used network by millionaires! Twitter has an average membership age of 25 to 35 – and is particularly good for networking, sharing, retweeting, customer service reviews – and the promotion of trends. YouTube is the most watched online channel on the globe – particularly popular with people aged between 18 to 35 – and good for blogs, videos, and ‘infotainment’.
Designing a social media strategy around these criteria will determine which platforms to use, set goals for the shape and style of ‘posts’ and ‘shares’ – and how often they are posted.
Almost all the clients of every firm in the country will have at least one social media account. It seems sensible to post, share, and tweet regularly and on as many platforms as possible, each with its own audience age group, interests, and demographics.
Social media programmes have the ability to tell a continuous and positive story about a firm throughout the year – and, when done well, will earn big returns on investment.
Alastair Murray is Director of The Bureau: the-bureau.co.uk