24 Jun Social Media Marketing Done Right During Times of Crises
The following article is the product of a webinar, hosted by Daze Marketing, in collaboration with the Export Institute’s International Institute of Manufacturing and Marketing. To view the webinar click here.
In today’s economy, 95% of companies lack a proper strategy for using social media, most of them are simply unaware of the possibilities. Even those aware, do very specific activities, that do not necessarily resonate with today’s reality. What is a social media strategy, and how should it be built?
Social Media Strategy
Social media platforms will acknowledge two entities: an individual person, represented by a “personal profile”, and a company, represented by a “company page”. It is essential to fully understand the differences between them and the advantages of each entity, to use each wisely.
When crafting a social media marketing strategy, first consider the “algorithm”, the piece of code that determines which of all posted content will appear in the user’s feed. To name a few parameters that go into the science of news feed optimization:
- The engagement a post generates during the first few seconds-to-minutes of its posting.
- The relationship between the posting brand/user and the user; plus – the user’s actual reciprocity and engagement with the source’s previous content.
- Publication date. In terms of social media, old news is no news. Last week’s posts are irrelevant today. For example, a post from 12 am that hadn’t caught the eyes of many to begin with, will quickly cease to appear, and by morning will no longer be shown.
Personal profile marketing
The first thing to know about the personal profile is that it can not be used to pay for promoting posts (with the exception of Twitter). However, it does have several important advantages that distinguish it from it’s branded counterpart, the company page. There are three activities that exclusively apply to personal pages on social media: thought leadership, group posting, and personal messaging. We will refer to group activities here as part of content marketing campaigns, as this is another channel that helps to establish authority.
Unlike company pages, personal profiles cannot sponsor posts. One of the things you can do to increase visibility to personal posts is to add friends and connections. To do this, it is important to create connection request messages for the right people, who are considered a fit for the brand’s target audience. In addition, posts can be uploaded to the target audience’s designated groups.
Users tend to perceive information and posts coming from personal profiles as more authentic and credible than those posted on company pages. It’s worth considering using personal profiles of the organization’s thought leaders and creating an aura of in-depth knowledge on topics that interest and concern potential customers. Now we can ask: why should a company invest in turning executives into social media thought leaders, and how does this convert into sales?
We touch on this later.
A brand or individual can set up and manage a social media group, or establish themselves as sources of knowledge by actively participating and sounding an opinion or information in various relevant groups. Nowadays, community management is its own field of expertise. It is important to understand that opening and maintaining a group requires resources, time, and attention.
The relatively easier solution would be to use other existing groups to promote business interests, although it comes with its own challenges. Questions that are important to raise in this case are: How to determine which groups are relevant to invest in? How should the activity be measured?
It’s important to keep in mind that different sets of rules apply to different groups. Check the guidelines for each, and avoid violations that may result in muting, banning, and other consequences.
LinkedIn Outreach involves using a personal profile to connect with the target audience’s decision-makers. This activity can take place on Twitter and Facebook, but due to its unique nature, LinkedIn serves the purpose best and even offers paid tools to manage messaging and leads.
Many of us receive repeated messages on LinkedIn that we tend to ignore. Tailoring and personalizing for targeted personas individuals is important for that reason. It’s essential to provide accurate value that fits your audience’s needs and pain points. Collect the campaign data and change (optimize) the different parameters based on the data. Also, down the chain, since these are leads from “cold” messaging, sales reps should be prepared for calls that will follow.
Company Page Marketing
Similar to personal profiles, company pages can also post and publish content. Simple posting is called “organic content” in this case because it’s organic to the way the platform works. But there’s another bonus, company pages are the only way to post paid ads. Paid promotions bypass the regular algorithm and are distributed according to a different bidding system.
Paid campaigns adhere to a bidding system, allowing marketers to collect information about the type of audience that is the most receptive to different messages and content. It is important to address questions like What works better? What is the CPC (cost-per-click)? What is the conversion rate? Which assets should be produced to attract the right audience to download those assets?
The organic realm of company pages refers to the posts on the company page. It is common to produce a monthly Gantt and choose a mixture that suits both the platform type and the desired audience. When writing a posting plan always keep in mind what it is that interests the target audience. Consider the best blend of content, to get your audience’s attention and gain their interest – think about them, not about the product.
Would it be better to talk about the brand – the events the company participates in or hosts, about services it looks to promote? Maybe touch on content that has to do with the clients? Add links to external articles? Original content?
Organic posts are not paid for, which makes it important to consider the posting time. Each platform provides a variety of information about users’ activity peaks. Having said that, everything online should always be tested, as engagement and activities tend to vary between industries, geographies, and page to page and among the different worlds of content.
Goals of Social Media Marketing Activity
Goals vary by campaign and dictate the blend of marketing tactics and ways of utilizing marketing channels. Optional goals for digital campaigns include:
- Brand awareness
- Thought Leadership
- Traffic to company site and assets
- Sales qualified lead (SQL) generation
Most companies understand the importance of running and maintaining company pages across all social platforms to maintain brand awareness. Corporate advertising is LinkedIn’s and Facebook’s main source of income, explaining a decline in organic reach, urging companies to invest money to reach more. Today, investing in posts is inevitable if companies want to reach a sizable audience, there’s little point in writing and publishing without sponsoring. And again, as is true for anything digital – it is crucial to get the targeting right and measure live campaign data against KPIs.
Any campaign, of any type, should offer considerable amounts of value to its target audience. Whether the brand wants to emerge with opinion leaders, whether it wants to generate awareness or bring in leads – the target audience will engage where it is valuable for them to do so. Value can be interesting content, critical industry know-how, answers to questions, inspiration, or entertainment.
The purpose of producing leads can also be implemented as a final goal (leads for the sales reps), as well as an intermediate objective – using contact information to continue sending valuable information that will keep them closely engaged with the brand and having the brand be seen as a credible source for knowledge (nurturing).
Marketing During Times of Crisis
It’s important to understand that business is not “as usual” right now. As always, content should be valuable and resonate with your target audience, but this is twice as true during times of uncertainty. The idea is to truly support your customers and prospects, understand what interests them. It is important to research, understand their current pain points, and concerns. The overall tone should be very supportive and empathetic.
In the paid realm, many studies have shown that companies investing budgets in marketing during crises were the ones to flourish post-crisis. Most of the market tends to mistakingly cut marketing costs during such times, providing the opportunity to reach more users. Noise levels go down, prices drop and marketing messages refined to address the ambiance of the period connect brands with their target audience, maintaining engagement during the period until sales can be brought back to the table.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that COVID content should revolve around masks and social distancing, but rather acknowledging this period, what we’re all experiencing, and adapting the messages respectfully. Here are some content ideas: address current business challenges, acknowledge personal issues, pay attention to the obstacles and pain points associated with this time. Tone down promotional pitches and provide informative, supportive content that relate to the target audience’s reality. It is important not to try to sell, but rather to establish and maintain a relationship between the audience, the brand, and its leading figures. All posts on company pages should have very relevant, supportive content, that provides a lot of value.
The same goes for personal profiles – messages of empathy, and great content without expecting anything in return. Many companies only use their brand assets and put aside their personal assets, but it is precisely these times that can generate substantial value in creating relationships with their target audience.
Using Your Personal Profile to Reach the Target Audience (B2B)
Select the profile of a senior executive at the company for this activity; preferably of a similar seniority as the target audience. Choosing someone with a marketing or sales role might drive prospects away, giving the impression that the main reason they’re being contacted is for sales purposes rather than building a relationship based on common interests. Along with choosing the right profile and optimizing it to present the information you want to convey, the ideal target persona should be formulated and analyzed to understand who we’re aiming for. In B2B marketing, building the ideal persona will refer to professional features: job role, geographic location, industry, company size, and the emotional aspect – what does that person need? How can you help them?
Using the defined persona, build a series of messages that will appeal to the target audience and invite them to connect with the company’s chosen professional on LinkedIn. Once connected, you can send a message every few days or weeks, inviting to your webinars, to download an interesting item of information or simply to ask a relevant question. Any such message will also reach the recipient’s’ mailbox, through LinkedIn’s notification system, without the need to acquire their address. During this time, it is even more crucial to be cautious and make sure to avoid spammy messages. Subsequently, some will respond and gradually become leads that can lead to discussions off LinkedIn, while others may continue to view posts.
Tailoring the Messages
Social distancing is probably here to stay, at least for the near future and it’s time to adapt the messaging accordingly. As social beings, distancing impacts us greatly and the majority of us look for ways to connect. There have never been so many video calls on Whatsapp, for example. Network tracking tools now see a peak in these trends, following the need to connect. Taking this need into account when writing messages is crucial – do anything possible to create a sense of belonging and connection, even offering support.
Another trend can be seen on LinkedIn, the world’s largest business network: the two most popular hashtags in January and February were “marketing” and “leadership”; whereas now “Covid-19” and “Corona” are leading. Right now, LinkedIn’s recommendation is to talk about remote work, social distancing, crisis management, and business continuity (business is not as usual). Content ideas might include – how do we move on from here? How do we survive? How to get through this?
Needless to say, every company, every industry, and every niche faces its own set of problems. Some even benefit from it, especially in the communication fields and collaborations. |Research your customers and prospects, dive into what’s really going on and post about that, even if it doesn’t revolve around you or your product.
Retargeting and Mix Channel Strategy
A complete digital marketing strategy should cover all goals to the customer journey – starting from raising brand awareness, down to creating leads. To do this, use different platforms according to need – to present content that fits the target audience, to present and offer the brand’s solutions, and finally, to create leads.
Start by optimizing your LinkedIn profile for online presence – incorporate all possible details, and write it to fit the company’s target persona. Next, send connection messages to targeted people who fit the defined personas. Anyone who connects with you will begin to see the content you upload at a higher percentage than company page’s distribution. Therefore, the next step will be to upload posts to the page as well as to relevant groups.
Every piece of content and every post should have an added link to a landing page or blog for the readers who want to leave details and ask questions. Some pages will be gated – meaning, accessing or downloading content under the condition of submitting details and some are non-gated, but even the pages that do not require the user’s details, can generate a lot of information. On landing pages, as well as blogs and other company assets, pixels should be added for Twitter, Google Tag Manager, LinkedIn, and Outbrain/Taboola. In this way, even users who don’t leave details will be tracked and turned into an audience that can be targeted and specifically messaged through different mediums.
Therefore, our recommendation is to direct users to non-gated pages. Many find this difficult since it seems non-intuitive. HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot users feel the need of adding as many details to their systems. However, building trust first and establishing a relationship without setting conditions is important. After three months of feeding content, directing a smart (non-spamming), a sales-oriented message can be considered sending.
On LinkedIn, once the connection request is received, you will be granted access to your connection’s email address. Email addresses will let you generate a well-targeted audience for a paid campaign through less costly channels like Twitter and Facebook. Again, a campaign that offers high-quality content without any conditions. Moreover, if the content is indeed good and fits the target audience, it will also generate engagement and shares, that will spread exposure to the piece.
This is the desired blend during these days, warmly and heartfeltly approaching the audience, while also keeping in mind the post-crisis business side when companies will look into expanding, while you’ll already have a foundation of followers and evangelists that will want to hear more from you.