We hear it all the time: being on social media is no longer a choice and that all businesses must be involved in order to compete in the digital age. But as many digital marketers have come to learn, this is much easier said than done.
The question that always baffles marketers is “How does social media fit into my overall marketing strategy?” Answering this question before you decide to get involved in social media is crucial for its success.
The Social Media Ecosystem
Social media can actually fit in more than one place within your marketing strategy. The graphic below represents McKinsey’s Customer Decision Journey and as you will see, social media has a part in every one of these phases.
Phase #1 – Social Media Advertising
Your social media ecosystem begins with advertising to generate awareness and followers to your page. The social media advertising landscape has evolved to become very complex and powerful. For instance, earlier this year, Facebook introduced Partner Categories and video advertisements. This has made it easier for marketers to generate relevant fans on their page. The goal here is simple – to expose your advertisements to as many of your prospects as possible to generate more awareness and a larger fan base.
Phase #2 – Organic Postings
When marketers talk about social media, many of us refer to this phase (but, as we can see, this is just a small portion of the overall ecosystem). This is when you, as a brand, provide content and links that would be relevant to your fans.
Your social media platforms are essentially a melting pot of your prospects in various stages of the buying cycle. Some were just introduced to your brand through advertisements while some may already be familiar with your brand’s products or services.
Your goal as a marketer is to create engagement by publishing content that is relevant to prospects in each stage of the buying cycle. The fans, in turn, will naturally gravitate towards some of your content depending on where they are in the sales cycle and what their interests are.
For example, if I am a marketing manager who has just liked a page about a marketing enterprise software, I am unlikely to react to a purchase call-to-action because I am still unfamiliar about the product. I am, however, more likely to click on a post that directs me to a blog that tries to explain how this enterprise software can benefit my business. Only if I have already read most of your content and what the software can offer will I be more likely to click on that purchase call-to-action.
Phase #3 – Post Purchase Follow
Odds are that social media is only one of the many marketing tactics you employ to generate results. If this is the case, your source of growth should not only come from your advertisements. Following a purchase, you should follow up with a customer with a request for a review and a follow to your social media platforms to capture purchases that were not brought from social media.
Customers who have purchased your products can become very valuable followers who are more likely to evangelize about your brand (if they had a good experience with it, of course).
Phase #4 – Repeat Purchase
The final stage of the social media ecosystem is to provide your fans with reminders to purchase your product or to participate in promotions and discounts. The success of this phase depends on how well you are able to turn customers into social media fans. The more customers you turn into fans, the more repeat purchase you can get from social media (duh…).
So there you go – An actionable (but somewhat simplified) representation of the social media ecosystem. What do you think?