For many companies, social media forms an integral part of marketing communication.  This means that the use of social media in marketing has become increasingly professional.  What initially was an experimental playing field for trend-oriented companies, today requires a conscious and sophisticated procedure.  Here, there are a few things you must keep in mind, so we have compiled these five tips for successful social media marketing.

1. Strategically Anchor Social Media

The times are over when social media invited you to test things and make errors as part of the learning process. This is owed to the increasingly professional and competitive environment, and the growing demands, of users for whom  social media has long become an everyday part of their online life.
Companies who wish to use social media marketing successfully, must carefully plan their strategies.  The professional use of social media also requires a clear and sophisticated strategy. Many companies still justify the “why?” by saying they need to use social media because their competitors do the same and they must be up-to-date. However, companies must be aware of what they wish to use social media for. Possible purposes may be customer retention, lead generation, branding or market research. In the telecommunications industry, for example, social networks also have an important function as service and consultation channel.
Here, you must take into consideration that social media marketing is not an autonomous business sector. Social media should always be part of an integrated, cross-channel marketing strategy, which in turn, should be integrated in the company strategy as a whole. Social media marketing must always make a contribution to achieving the paramount company goals.
This contribution must also be measurable in social media marketing. You must be able to display performance figures. This applies to qualitative as well as quantitative targets. If you wish to use social media for customer retention, it may look like this, for example: “Our goal by 1st January 2014 is to have 1000 new registrations from the female target group in the online shop from social networks.” You can measure, who has reached a landing page via a social network and has registered in the online shop.
The choice of the right networks is decisive for success and always depends on the individual strategy. Facebook may have the most users and therefore show potential contacts, but maybe your target group can easier be found in other networks. For the promotion of a marketing congress, business networks such as LinkedIn may be more suitable.

2. Continuously Check Target Fulfilment

Many companies commit the error to set targets and only verify these after the target deadline has expired. At this point, a steer in the opposite direction in case of a failure will no longer be possible. You should therefore carefully monitor the relevant performance figures in order to detect deviations in time and take the appropriate measures. It is recommended to set milestones at regular intervals and link these with intermediate targets.

3. Interact With Users

Possibly the greatest strength of social media is interactivity. Users can comment on company messages and ask questions. Many companies however, fear that the communication then may take on a life of its own, and not in a desirable way. As a result, they ignore user responses or even delete disagreeable comments – a mistake, which may actually lead to the opposite of the intended outcome. Companies must accept the fact that they will partially lose their sovereignty over the dialogue in social media.
However, this interplay between companies and users creates the social media dialogue. Companies must be prepared to communicate with users on a personal level, answer their queries and listen to criticism. Here, you must work out clear guidelines, for example, to define the procedure for critical posts. It is also important, that users receive prompt responses to their queries. Otherwise, they can quickly feel ignored and may spread negative comments about the company.
Users must get the feeling they are taken seriously as dialogue partners. This also means, the company should not only act reactively. Instead, they should actively put questions to users. Users may, for example, be asked for product improvement suggestions. A user who feels included, also feels that he is taken seriously. A pre-requiste is that this form of interaction should not be ignored. If, for example, the majority of users in a survey votes for a specific product feature, you should try to implement this.
Social media is an efficient instrument to increase the coverage of contents. Users should be activated as multiplicators in order to share content with their contacts, for example, as a tweet or via their facebook wall. In order to share content, you must offer a clear added value. Only content, which is regarded as relevant by the user, will be shared. One option to encourage users to share contents is the use of incentives, e.g. in the form of vouchers for your online shop. It may also be sensible to identify and separately target users who share contents more frequently or speak positively about the company.

4. Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing

Social media is not an autonomous channel. It unfolds its full potential in the interaction with other online marketing channels. Especially via email marketing, as it offers a number of points of contact. Via SWYN buttons, newsletter content may be shared in social networks via a click and the coverage of email marketing campaigns can be extended. In turn, social media can be used to generate opt-ins for email marketing.
Transferring social media contacts into the email dialogue has the advantage that you decrease the dependency of social network providers. Due to unpredictable amends to the Terms and Conditions, this may compromise your own social media strategy. Furthermore, your own email marketing opt-ins will allow you to independently collect user data and use this. Even though, there is not firm jurisdiction, the sovereignty over the user data of social network contacts lies with the social network providers when in doubt.

5. Automate Communication

Modern online dialogue marketing technology, such as ELAINE FIVE enables you to distribute scheduled contents via a central platform in different social networks. It is possible to store all content of a multi-level campaign and then schedule the automatic posting of each content into the chosen networks.
However, you can only automate the initial message. When users respond to it, this will of course require a manual answer. Automation helps to design social media marketing more efficiently, but it does not substitute personal participation.

More information on social media marketing and other digital marketing topics

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