I get asked a lot for the secret to successful social media marketing campaigns. The short answer is to create on-brand content for a clearly defined audience.
The article below discusses the longer answer, which is Fusion Marketing – a term we’ve coined to encapsulate the fusing together of the best parts of traditional copywriting, branding, digital marketing, visual design, big data, and social media.
Below I’ll walk you through the structure of a Fusion Marketing campaign, from root to branch. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask them below or drop us an email.
Laying the Foundations
1) Build a Distinctive Brand
I’m always surprised by how few of our clients have clearly defined brand guidelines before we start working with them.
Your Brand Book is your blueprint for growth, and your staff are its engineers. Clear guidelines are essential to ensure brand consistency; without guidance in word or image, any content creation initiatives are likely to be muddled. And your company will grow in directions you never planned for.
When your firm produces an article, brochure or newsletter, what style and tone of language are used? Do your communications aim to be light-hearted, serious, informative or engaging? Are you descriptive and lyrical, or simple and direct?
Questions like these matter because they define how the public sees you. For the same reason, distinctive visual branding is also key – particularly when considering the increasing importance of social media for business. Essential starting points here include a fixed color palette, along with guidelines on the use of imagery, typeface, font size, and the positioning of text.
While there are certainly benefits to allowing your staff to create content in a way that’s natural to them, having a framework in place provides boundaries and allows your firm to develop a recognizable, distinct and appealing personality that can survive any personnel changes.
Click if you’d like Lexicon to produce your Brand Book.
2) Know Your Audience
Social media represents an extraordinary advance in marketing because it allows companies to efficiently target only their potential customers, based on customizable demographic profiles that allow for unparalleled precision. But in order to make the most of this revolutionary new tool, the marketing team needs to know exactly how to identify that pool of potential customers in terms of their age, location, likes and dislikes, and much more.
What does your target client look like? Where do they live and work? How old are they? Do they read the Bangkok Post? Cosmopolitan? Dostoyevsky? JK Rowling? Do they prefer Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn?
The best way to find out is to conduct some focused audience research with your clients, and build up a range of target personas.
Next you’ve got to try and figure out what kind of questions these potential clients are likely to have about your company and industry. The results of these enquiries will form of the basis of your content production strategy.
In fact, this very article is a result of audience persona research; if you’re a Bangkok-based business person and clicked on this article, then we’re doing something right.
The Means of Production
3) Establish Your Company’s Credibility with Thought Leadership
You are an expert in your chosen field, whether your business is finance, baking or advertising. You have insights that amateurs do not. The internet is a meritocratic place and there’s space for all voices and perspectives to be heard. Why not start sharing your expertise with others? If people begin to associate you with experience and knowhow within your sector, they’ll naturally think of you the next time they need the type of products or services you provide.
The easiest place to get started is by writing an article for your company website’s blog. This article should be written within the framework of your brand guidelines, and focus on topics that are of interest to the target audience you identified earlier.
These topics are likely to include investment ideas for financiers, cake recipes for bakers, and articles on social media for digital marketing firms. Always be sure to include a call to action at the end of your article to tell the reader what to do next; usually this takes the form of an invitation to get in touch or to visit another page on your site.
One of the added benefits of producing thought leadership content is that Google will recognize your website as a source of authority on the topics you write about. So, even as you help position yourself as an expert in your field, your content is also making it easier for people find you on search engines.
4) Produce Attractive Visual Content
Once you’ve created your thought leadership article, consider how you can also convey your message visually. Explainer videos, video interviews, quote images, and infographics not only enliven your blog posts, but provide you with multiple ways to tell your story on social media. They also let readers know that you are serious and committed to your field, because instead of making a half-hearted effort with text alone, you have clearly invested in authentic, quality content.
We’ve already discussed the importance of consistent branding, but by using a limited range of fonts and colors in your visual content, your audience can more easily recognize your brand. Think about how distinctive the logos are for Nike, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Apple and McDonald’s. None are especially fancy or technically difficult, but the genius of their design produces a powerful impact nonetheless.
5) Fill Up Your Social Media Calendar
I see many firms jump into social media without a clear plan or strategy, and the inevitable results are low engagement, abysmal reach and atrocious ROI.
Posting on social media without on-brand content designed for your target audience is like setting out to sea without building any sails. We’ve seen too many companies set out on this fool’s errand over the years, and the need to prevent more from making the same mistake is why it’s taken us 700 words to arrive at the main topic of this article. Thanks for sticking around.
Now that you’ve done your research and are creating quality content, it’s time to build a social media calendar. Each social media platform comes with different expectations and requirements, so I’ll narrow my focus today to Facebook, which consistently delivers the best ROI when done properly.
At this point you should have an on-brand thought leadership article designed to appeal to your target audience, as well as supplementary on-brand visual material. If you have enough content then you can post something different each day over the course of the week (Monday: article, Tuesday: infographic, Wednesday: explainer video, etc.), and start on a whole new topic the following week.
Bring customers to your page by giving them something for nothing and answering the questions that you believe they have, based on your audience research. Invite them to read your articles and remember to remain consistent in your tone, which should be nearer to playful than serious, at least on Facebook.
Companies that try to aggressively sell on Facebook tend to have little success and are quickly hidden and ignored, but those with an eye on long-term brand building and customer engagement tend to thrive.
Facebook penalizes business pages with low engagement, so try not to post too much, at least early on. One post per day is enough for companies that are just getting started. And stay with it consistently, week after week, month after month. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
While sharing other people’s images and articles may be helpful in driving up your engagement rates, there’s no tangible business benefit to highlighting external content. You’re better off setting aside resources to create more of your own original content, and only posting on Facebook when you have something interesting to say.
By creating your own material, you will be able to capture your clients in a loop whereby you pique their interest with captivating content on social media, bring them to your site, impress them with your expertise and then give them an opportunity to purchase. If you’ve done your research (and get the next section right) then this sales funnel is guaranteed to deliver.
6) Target Your Social Media Marketing Intelligently
Facebook has over a billion users and its algorithm is designed to filter irrelevant content so that people get genuinely useful news in their feed. In some ways this is bad news for businesses, as their content is competing against users’ close friends and family members for relevance and importance. The fact that business pages on Facebook only reach around 2% of their followers organically indicates how difficult it is to beat family photos and sports updates in the newsfeed.
I believe that Facebook is the biggest gift to marketers in history, but the key is having a clearly defined target audience. Remember the audience research we did in Step 2? Now is the time to feed that information into Facebook’s demographic targeting tools. Whether you’re a mass market behemoth or in a niche industry, Facebook allows you to segment your audiences and to create specific content for different groups.
Some segments of your audience will prefer to read your content, while others will prefer to get the same information in the form of an infographic or explainer video. To take a simple example, if you’re marketing kids’ cereal or toys, you’ll want to deliver one message for parents and another for kids. With audience segmentation, you can ensure maximum value by presenting your different audience demographics with the content they prefer. Remember that every time you post, it’s an opportunity to invite people to visit your site and become more familiar with your brand.
You’ll need to pay Facebook to get your content in the news feed of your target audience personas, but it’s a whole new kind of advertising with terrific potential. The objective here is not the hard sell, but rather to engage with your audience, get involved with conversations they’re already having, and offer your take on the subject at hand. If done properly, you increase your brand awareness with your core audience and increase the likelihood of a sale.
Beyond Facebook, other platforms like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn also allow for paid audience targeting, with varying degrees of accuracy.
In all likelihood, you’re reading this article as a result of the paid targeting we’ve done on Facebook to get our content to Bangkok businesspeople and decision-makers.
If you are a 16-year old girl in Udon Thani, then we’ve messed up.
7) Develop Your Social Media Outreach
If you’re not looking to pay for adverts, then social media outreach can be a very effective way to amplify your content and increase its reach.
There are key influencers in all industries, and getting one of these people to share your content is a great shortcut to increased brand awareness. They’re unlikely to be keen to share on your first interaction, but kindling these relationships over time can produce exceptional results.
As in real life, building relationships takes time and trust; however, you can build credibility with influencers by consistently producing good quality content. Get on their radar by following their social channels, sharing and commenting on their output. You can then invite them to do the same for you.
I said earlier that the internet is meritocratic, and social media is the greatest of all levellers. If your content is good enough, it will win out eventually, and having influencers advocate for you is a great shortcut to success.
In your audience research you should also have figured out where your audience hangs out online, perhaps they are in business groups on LinkedIn, or congregate in a particular forum or around a certain blogger. Wherever they are, you should be too, offering your specialist insights and inviting people to engage with your content.
8) Repurpose Your Material
We’ve already discussed using your thought leadership content as a foundation for supporting visual media, but your content can still travel a lot further.
Once you get into the habit of producing good quality content on a regular basis, and have started getting connected with industry influencers on social media, you can start looking for other ways to extract maximum value from your content.
Obvious ways to do this include rephrasing your content to post on your LinkedIn Blog, or Facebook’s Instant Articles. Rephrasing the language ensures that Google doesn’t penalize your site for hosting duplicate content.
You can also try to get your content published in hard copy magazines and newspapers, as well as rephrased as guest posts on other companies’ blogs.
Once you’ve got a few articles you’re proud of, you can make these the focus of your monthly newsletter. Adding email to the mix gives your potential clients another chance to read your content, while also reaching those who may not use social media.
Another option is to create follow-up articles. If part one has been well received by your audience, why not write parts two through five? You should also consider translating your most popular content into other languages – English to Thai translation being the most obvious of choices in our context.
If you’ve got your audience targeting right, then every comment you receive on your articles and posts is a valuable opportunity for audience research. These comments can give you inspiration for further topics and provide feedback on tweaks you should be making to your strategy.
Embrace these opportunities, as social media marketing is an interactive process that allows you to get into direct dialogue with your customers. It also gives you an even playing field on which to beat your competition by being more relevant, more engaging, and more responsive.
9) Measure Success & ROI
There are various metrics for the success of your social media campaigns. Ultimately they should bring in money, whether directly or otherwise. But, initially you should look for a balance between qualitative and quantitative measures.
Page likes, engagement and reach are all useful metrics that can be found on all of the main social media platforms, but remember that audience targeting is key. It’s easy (by paying) to target broadly and reach more than a million random people every day with your content on social media. However, it’s better to reach just your target audience.
If you’ve done your research and are confident you’ve got the demographics right, then you will know how many people fit your desired audience profile. This may well be a million people, and if so then that’s great. But even if your target audience is less than 10,000 people, the key is always to produce content designed with those people’s needs and interests in mind.
Website traffic is another great measure of the success of your campaigns, in terms of especially how long people are spending on your page and what actions they’re taking on your site. If your articles are being read for a few minutes on average, then you can be confident that you’re getting your content in front of your target audience. However, if visitors stay on your site for an average of only a few seconds, you’re likely targeting at the wrong crowd.
Bringing all this data together gives you a measure of your increasing brand awareness within your audience. Ideally the number of people reading each of your article should grow as your targeted demographics become more aware of your existence and start to look out for the latest article from your firm.
Measuring your Google results on a regular basis will also show the progress you’re making with SEO, helping you decide which keywords and topics to include in your future articles.
10) Go back to #3 and start again!
Success with social media is an ongoing and cumulative process that delivers results by increasing margins. By regularly creating great on-brand content for your target audience, you’ll remain at the forefront of their minds when it comes time to make a purchase.
Advertising budgets are increasingly being shifted to digital marketing, and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Traditional forms of analogue marketing cannot compete with the data, targeting ability and responsiveness of social media, nor can they provide the branding, search engine and positioning benefits of on-site thought leadership campaigns.
There are compelling reasons for companies, particularly in Thailand, to embrace social media marketing sooner rather than later. Thai businesses have been slow to embrace the potential of this breakthrough technology, partly due to ignorance and partly because there simply aren’t enough skilled workers who understand the industry well enough. But Thailand is bound to catch up soon with the rest of the world, so if businesses here want a valuable head start over their competitors, the time to act is now.
One final reason shines through. If you want to make the right impression with your target audience, but aren’t in position to follow the above steps effectively, Lexicon is offering five Bangkok-based companies 25% off our complete Fusion Marketing package for 2017. This will include the creation of your company’s Brand Book, as well as the production of weekly thought leadership articles, supporting visual media, social media management and marketing, outreach and analytics. Get in touch to find out how we will tell your story.
David Norcross is Digital Communications director of Lexicon Business Communications
We offer a full range of outsourced services, including the creation of your corporate branding (logo, color palette, visual guidelines), writing of your website content, blogs and thought leadership articles, the creation of explainer videos for your company and its products, and full social media management and marketing support to ensure you connect with your target audience and reach the first page on Google.