Best practices for social media marketing
For a campaign to be successful, a new generation of 'social media marketers' would be wise to consider some best practice guidelines, as suggested by Luke Griffiths, vice president of EMEA client services for e-Dialog.
For brands looking to engage a new generation of consumers, digital channels and social media platforms represent the best channels to connect with a more tech-savvy generation. However, for brands taking initial steps to market via these emerging channels, it can be tempting to jump in feet first - ignoring some of the tried and tested best practice which has been established by "old-school" email marketing.
Social media and mobile channels present an exciting new opportunity for marketers to engage with consumers in a more targeted and personal way. The intimate nature of social media platforms mean that messages sent and received over this channel could have a more potent affect than other digital marketing tactics, however poorly executed social media campaigns run the risk of turning off the customer.
As new channels for marketing, the challenge for social and mobile is developing foolproof methods that guarantee a positive response every time. However, in the pursuit of this, as marketers we must not forget the rules of engagement that have won email its place at the heart of the digital marketing mix:
- Personalisation Something as simple as including someone's name in the salutation line can be the difference between a message being read or immediately relegated to the junk folder. Similarly, any messages sent over social and mobile need to be targeted to the individual. With the launch of Facebook email and the rise of mobile internet use that is all the more important.
However, personalisation can be taken even further with the emerging digital channels. Mobile in particular presents numerous opportunities to tailor content specifically for the device upon which it is being accessed. The rise of location-based services means that it is possible to provide extremely well-tailored content for the specific consumer based on their proximity to a store or with an understanding of the likely activity they are undertaking.
In the early days of email marketing, managing frequency was something which many brands struggled with, resulting in customers sometimes being overwhelmed with messages. However, customer preference centres and greater behavioural insight now mean that email is one of the most unobtrusive forms of marketing. Similarly, social channels need to establish their own equilibrium of frequency and timing. Consumers are unlikely to value too frequent contact from a brand on a social network that is used primarily as a means to keep up to date with close friends.
With mobile and social it is even more important to let the consumer dictate the nature of their relationship with you, so as with email, customer preference centres which are specific to these channels should be developed and feedback should be encouraged to ensure that the level of interaction suits both the brand and the consumer.
- Optimisation There is little point in always sending out HTML emails when you know that a customer responds best to plain text. It will not generate the click-through that you need and when you have to be able to illustrate the success of a programme, core metrics such as click-through is essential. With this in mind, optimising the messages that you send for the channel they will appear on is a major advantage.
For example, if you know that a particular sub-section of your customer base frequently accesses their email via a tablet computer, it is possible to build a campaign which utilises the unique capabilities of that device. This could include building video in to an email or including interactive content within the message. Ensuring that your digital marketing campaign is optimised to perform as well as possible, regardless of channel, will make it more engaging for the consumer.
- Sharing The best email campaigns are those that have a viral quality; the ones that shoot around the internet in a day and result in thousands of views on YouTube or "Likes" on a Facebook page. By their nature, social and mobile increase the potential for your marketing campaign to be spread. This means that creativity and engaging content are all the more important, but it also means ensuring that the consumer has the tools needed to be able to share content easily.
Very few people will go to the trouble of posting something to their Facebook wall unless the content is either extremely engaging or it is made very easy for the consumer to do so. At the very least, adding "Like" or "Share via Facebook" buttons within an email allows consumers the option to share the content. However, this also means that the message you send needs the flexibility to be able to offer the same user experience regardless of the channel it's accessed on, so that if your optimised for iPhone message reaches the inbox of someone using a BlackBerry, they are able to appreciate the content in the same way as the original recipient.
As social media and mobile emerge as channels, best practice steps will be all the more important as part of the marketing strategy. Digital provides significant opportunities, but remembering the hard won lessons of email marketers could prove to be the activity which ensures the continued success of your campaigns.