The internet and the capabilities it has endowed us with has infiltrated every corner of our lives. Want to go a walk in the country but you’re worried about the weather? What do you do? You go online and check the weather forecast. Cooking at home and need a recipe? Surf the web for one of the many cook sites and take your pick from recipes. Want to know the latest traffic update from the journey you are about to take? Go online to one of the many apps and sites that provide up to the minute updates, it makes you wonder how we survived before all this knowledge was at our fingertips!
Our fingertips is exactly where it’s at, the surge in popularity in smartphones has only accelerated this universal acceptance by adding portability and accessibility to an already potent mix, the internet is all around us and can be found in pockets and handbags throughout the world, it has without doubt improved our quality of life due to the information it provides.
An online message for an online world
As we are now such an online world, the way we receive and send information has changed in tandem with the evolution of the internet itself. The devices we use to digest the vast information it furnishes us with has contributed to a social media explosion, people are tweeting and facebooking whilst on the move, Instagram photos are popping up from peoples travels and outings, there seems to be no end to the ever expanding social media stratosphere, it is part and parcel of our daily lives. Its reach is nigh on immeasurable. It is for these reasons that your content and social marketing plans have to be structured with this at the forefront of our minds.
With this in mind, the traditional method for advertising, where there would be a general message blasted out to the masses by mediums such as TV, radio and print can no longer cut the mustard. The gargantuan growth of social media outlets has altered the playing field, the way we receive and digest information has changed, in direct relation, so too have the methods we use to deliver our marketing messages. Prior to embarking on joining every social network known to man, you have to rationalize what it is you are trying to achieve. Who are you trying to reach? What is your message? What kind of content will you be supplying? Will you be using different types of media? These are all questions you should ask yourself before going any further. You should also follow the five point plan below.
Making a plan
Following the same framework as a marketing plan, your content and social marketing plan has to be defined and structured; you have to know your target market and what your unique selling points are.
1. Look inward – identify your strengths, weaknesses and goals.
2. Look outward – what is your companies opportunities and threats, who is your target market?
3. Focus on strategy – Look for the intersection of your strengths and target market.
4. Set measurable steps – Get down to the details that are concrete and measureable, this can include a monthly review, tracking and measurement.
5. Review often and revise – Similar to your marketing plan, your content and social marketing plan should evolve with your business, review and revise constantly to see what type of content and which type of social media is working best for your company.
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Combining the best content with the best platform
Once you have your plan in place, you have to start thinking about the content you will provide and how it will intertwine with your social marketing plan. What social media best suits your needs? On which of these platforms are your prospective clientele most active? There are a plethora of options available to you in terms of social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Vine, Storify, Digg, Quora, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Care2 are just some of the many options for sharing your work. Each have their own qualities and a selection of which may suit different messages you wish to convey.
The traffic involved with these sites is astronomical, this is a resource that is simply too large to ignore. At last count Facebook had 1.19 billion monthly users, Twitter had 115 million monthly users with 9100 tweets happening per second, YouTube has a whopping 1 billion videos views per day, this a huge rise from 100 million views in 2009. These figures are a clear indication of the traffic that is online, it is your job, and that of your content to intersperse with this traffic and make your message heard amongst the noise, ensure your voice is loud and clear. How do you do this? By providing original, relevant, useful and engaging content.
Your content should embody what you are, it should typify what it is you do; it should include up to date news pertaining to your industry, you want to position yourself as a thought leader within your field, you want people to look to you when they are looking for information in your area of expertise. You are establishing a base of trust and reliance that will encourage consumers, when they decide to invest, that they will invest with you based on your track record due to the content and expertise you have shared.
The different types of content
Your content can take many guises; you should be supplying regular blogs with valuable data that consumers can use and learn from, your goal is to inform and ultimately drive engagement with consumers. Email newsletters are another great method of delivering your marketing message whilst informing and educating. Your content should drive interaction and engagement which will lead to sales and interest in your company. This type of engagement further enhances and consolidates your brand; it is the very lifeblood of your online business.
The internet has furnished us with many ways of digesting content, use them. Your content need not be solely tied to textual pieces of information, (although there is nothing wrong with this type of content). Data can be viewed through video, seen through images and heard through audio. These are all mediums you should be utilizing to ensure your reach is at its optimum level. Studies have shown that sharing via video was one of the major contributors in content sharing in 2013 and is set to continue, this only reaffirms that your content should be versatile; social media as a channel for marketing is set to continue its upward trend in 2014 and is a channel which demands respect and attention.
Reaching across all devices
In this digitally enhanced world, it is also essential that whatever content you supply can be viewed across any and all the devices that consumers may choose to view it on. The multitude of options available and the meteoric rise of smartphones and tablets have made this a necessity in the sharing of your data. Whatever device the consumer happens to be using, it is essential your content has the ability to adjust itself to fit, it has to be responsive to the device, it has to have the ability to adapt and publish to whatever platform it is that the consumer happens to be using at the time.
Considering over 40% of your web traffic is now mobile, this is an imperative factor in your content and social marketing plan, and one that is surprisingly often an afterthought. Don’t let your company be the one whose content is overlooked by such a simple but potentially damaging oversight. Follow the five planning steps, create the most engaging content possible, share it in the right places, ensure you capture the attention of the right people and reap the rewards.
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