Most businesses these days are unsure of how to effectively leverage social media as part of their marketing efforts. Most companies understand the value of social media — but because they’re unsure about the methodology, many assume the “build it and they will come” mentality that really just doesn’t work in the ADD-evoking landscape that is social media. Posting a message or call-to-action once a week, month or even less often on Twitter or Facebook, and then lamenting that social media “didn’t work” for them is unfortunately the norm for many companies that don’t invest the time and effort into realtime marketing.
Companies that outsource their social media efforts, either full-time or on a percampaign basis, or hire a consultant to “coach” someone in their in-house marketing department, have the right idea because it jump-starts their efforts as quickly as possible. However, for business with limited resources, it might be difficult to hire in-house or even contract outside social media help — and so they continue to blindly navigate the waters. It’s unfortunately a huge waste of time to work this way — it’s inefficient when it’s easy to just bring in a consultant to walk you through the process and offer solutions and suggestions that work. However, for those of you who do still want to jump into social media marketing without a net, here is a quick timeline / checklist of how you should approach your marketing campaigns:
Don't limit your campaigns to one group! Try different demographics to create real-time R&D on spending habits of the different groups to which you’re sending your marketing messages.
• Set your marketing goals. Be clear about what your goals are. Yes, we all want more clients and higher profit margins, but how you get there will mean the difference between a single sale and a recurring one.
Suggestions: increasing traffic, increasing customer interaction via comments and reviews, establishing and generating more email opt-ins to increase your email lists (yes, even in an age of social media, email marketing is still very viable and shouldn’t be neglected — and social media is a great way to grow that list).
• Determine your target consumer base. Who exactly are you trying to sell your site or product to? A blanket “someone into novelties / adult entertainment” will not work — it’s too broad a base.
Be as specific as possible. Consider the age, gender, income level, educational level, preferences … those considerations can help generate marketing campaigns that are specific to those groups. And don’t limit your campaigns to one group! Try different demographics to create realtime R&D on spending habits of the different groups to which you’re sending your marketing messages. You may find that a group that you hadn’t targeted before finds your product to their liking, in a way you hadn’t expected.
• Determine your message. Since you’re targeting different groups for your product, see if different messages work for different demographics.
What angle can you present your product so that it appeals to specific groups? Can you change the angle to suit other demographics? Mainstream Hollywood regularly spends considerable R&D on different film trailers to see what works for what demographic, and then schedules which trailers air when (or on what site) to target different age, ethnic, and socio-economic groups.
• Determine your marketing channels. Where do different demographics congregate? Yes, start with the general (and most widely used) networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but expand your efforts to other social networks, including those that are specific to your product’s target audience. In addition, start channels of your own that are targeted to different demographics, with additional informational posts, interstitials and more, to keep different groups coming back to your demographic-specific channels.
• Lay out a 90-day game plan. There is a reason why my consultation contracts are a minimum of three months — you can’t evaluate progress in less time than a fiscal quarter. Social media, when done well, is organic, viral and unforced. Buying followers and friends will do nothing for your bottom line nor brand, especially with algorithms and sites available now that can publicly announce how many of your followers/friends are bought or inactive. From that 90-day point, you can start to tweak your campaigns and efforts to see what works best for your varying consumer audiences, to create a brand that generates loyalty and recognizability.
• Budget. Take a step back at all of your varying marketing efforts. Is the money spent on print marketing being utilized properly? Can the funds be allocated more efficiently? Don’t replace print marketing completely, of course, but perhaps a portion of that budget can be shifted to hiring parttime staff to manage your social media? If there is no budget, can interns with social media or marketing backgrounds be utilized?
• Develop your calendar. Be specific about what you’re going to do for the next 90 days. Are you running your campaigns by yourself? Be honest about what you are able to accomplish in addition to the other tasks you already have. Are you running your campaigns through a third party? Be specific about your expectations, and realistic about what can be accomplished. Determine the type, theme, and frequency of posts and interactions, and specify goals for each week as well as each month. Can you work on your campaigns daily? Weekly? Monthly?
Knowing and scheduling the time you spend on your efforts will lead not only to concentrated results but will also help you manage your time in general (as I mentioned before, social media can be very ADD-inducing and addictive ... not establishing a schedule can lead to haphazard messages, leading to inefficiency both in your marketing efforts as well as your day-to-day life!).
• Assign responsibilities. You may want to do it all yourself — but you’ll find that in order to get the maximum result, you may find after a while that you just simply cannot do all of your varying marketing campaigns and R&D by yourself.
Again, be honest and realistic; assign and schedule others to different tasks, outsource, or bring in assistants or interns. Developing a marketing machine that runs efficiently will always yield the best results.
• Review at 90 days. Check your efforts — were your goals met? What can be tweaked / modified? Should certain campaigns and efforts be scrapped? Is there time to add another avenue / network / channel? Can you take the reins from here or do you actually need to hire a Community Manager?
Marketing is a neverending series of testing, implementing, comparison and re-testing. For those not familiar with how to get started in social media, or not familiar with how to utilize social media in the most efficient way possible, there are plenty of consultants and coaches available (as well as many college kids who are simply more savvy than those of us who have been around pre-Internet and definitely pre-social media) who can help kick-start your marketing efforts.
Kelly Shibari is marketing director for ThePRSMGroup.com, which provides marketing and PR services to membership sites and adult studios.