You wouldn’t open or expand your business before hunkering down to research the right location, appropriate merchandising, and demographics. You’d also take pains to understand the purchasing habits of your customer. What about your social media brand sites?
It’s easy enough to bring your brand to multiple social media outlets, but how do you know if you’re in the right place? Social media communities host friends and their conversations, and are facilitated by technology to amplify both. What kind of strategy will you take to maximize buzz around your brand–or handle bad press that gets around?
First you have to choose the social community that best serves your brand. What are your communications objectives? Are you establishing your social media brand site for sales or service? Employee retention or recruitment? Market research or competitive intelligence? First figure out what you what to do, then find the right community for your objectives.
The Social Media Prism is a great place to start. This visualization characterizes the various social media tools and destinations, and will help you sort through the blur of options.
Getting to know your customer in the community
Now you need to align your objective(s) and the behaviors of your customers with a short list of social sites. Considering a video-sharing site like YouTube to improve customer service? Need a micro-community to reach your customers in real-time to alert them about your freshly baked pies? Follow these three steps:
- Start by listening in. Keyword searches will link you to an historical archive of content and remarks about your brand. They should also help you see whether your brand is in alignment with its target community. An additive approach should also be considered–to leverage the Twitter community. That will help you gain insight into the conversations, shared destinations and categories of content about your brand. You might start with a great free service, ChatterBox. With this collaborative tool you can start the process of mining the vast amount of “real-time” data and compare it with the search data on your target sites. The alignment of these sources will help to understand if you are near or far from the prize.
- Studying the behaviors of your customer is your second layer of understanding. Like observing the foot traffic or commuting patterns of your customers to understand when and where they engage, these behavioral studies are keenly collected in this exceptional free reference by Forrester. Forrester’s Social Technographics classifies consumers into indexed levels of participation of online behaviors to help you understand the engaged activities of your target segment.
- Study the traffic and demographics of your short list of sites. The audience insights service Quantcast offers a neatly packaged, Web-based free report to help you qualify your target sites and understand your audience. The advertising planning tools of Google Ad Planner or Facebook Advertising are other smart ways to understand the frequency and geography of your target consumer. These and other reference tools help you manage your expectations about reaching your audience–no ad buy required.
Are you ready?
Now that you know where to set up your socially connected shop, prepare to launch your social profile. And don’t forget to think ahead–are you staffed to meet the needs of your new socially connected customers? Next up is a resource plan for engaging and measuring your results of your new social media brand site.
Read more of Peter Fasano’s Mass Logic blog
Peter Fasano is the founder of mass+logic , a consultancy focused on digital marketing and social computing. Peter is currently engaged with The Coca-Cola Company, where he manages Global Social Media Marketing Strategy. He has more than ten years of Interactive Marketing experience, including: Search Marketing (Reprise Media and iCrossing), Enterprise Integration and Content Management (Software AG and Astoria Software), Digital Strategy (Microsoft, The Coca-Cola Company and Turner Broadcasting), and Startups (The Cancer Social Network, SlideShare and Dabble). He is Co-Founder and Partnership Director of Social Media Club Atlanta.