Four Principles For Proven Success On Social Media

July 21, 2015

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

In last week’s article, I discussed the need for advisors to use social media effectively. This brought a number of follow-up questions. This week’s column provides guidelines for navigating the often-murky waters of social-media marketing.

Consumers have grown to regard traditional marketing techniques as “pushy”; whether on TV, billboards or radio, companies tout how wonderful their brands and products are and constantly repeat how much consumers need them, leaving very little room for dialogue. However, social media marketing varies greatly compared with any form of traditional marketing. With social media, two-way communication is fundamental. Instead of pushing their products on consumers and asking for “likes” and “+1s” in return, companies should try “pulling in” consumers. By providing help, advice and relevant free information, they can establish trust-based, genuine and congenial relationships with consumers.

It is important to note that consumers don’t look to buy products on social media; instead they search for value. Therefore, companies should shift focus to deliver value to their social media followers in a sensible manner. If a company bombards followers with an avalanche of messages, offers and reminders, trying too hard to be their consumers’ “friend”, consumers may sever the social media relationship by unsubscribing or unfriending the company. This can ultimately reflect poorly on the company’s bottom line.

So, how do companies remain relevant while avoiding social breakup? Here are four guidelines to consider:

  1. Begin right now. Any company that strives to be successful in today’s marketplace must have a social media presence. Most popular brands have an active blog, a Facebook page or a Twitter account — or some combination of the three. It is important to make sure though, that all of the company’s individual social media accounts are interconnected and the company’s following is integrated rather than establishing separate entities with separate audiences. In social media, the assumption that “if you build it, they will come” is a misconception. No, they will not come! Companies must invest a considerable amount of time and effort building sound online marketing strategies to grow their social media following. The greater the following of a particular company, the more effective its successive digital marketing efforts will be. For that reason, it’s imperative to connect with consumers first and build a following. Companies can start promoting a social media presence by engaging their employees as brand ambassadors and attracting new followers through employees’ social networks.
  2. Stay active. Having a great following, while essential, is not enough to be successful on social media. First of all, followers will only come if they are offered great value. Second, a company’s followers are not necessarily there to stay; they can unsubscribe or unfollow the company’s social media page any time they distrust, dislike or get bored with the brand. Involving followers and constantly keeping them interested is what helps companies stay relevant on social media, a major component of social media success. According to a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. and UK consumers, Market Force, a frontrunner in customer intelligence solutions found that 81% of respondents reported making their purchasing decisions based directly on their friends’ posts on social media. Brands need social media exposure for people to talk about them and recommend branded products to others. Continuously providing useful content and engaging followers in new and exciting ways reinforces brand relevance.

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Four Principles For Proven Success On Social Media