A play on a "mind the gap" railway warning from the UK, using the Hiebing logo

7 Steps to Bridge the Gap Between Social Media and the Rest of Your Marketing Initiatives

September 18, 2015by Dana Arnold

Social media is woven into the DNA of consumers and customers today, yet many marketers continue to treat it as a satellite activity. To win with social, it must be an integrated strategy within your entire marketing program.

If you have a firm grasp of your target audience and are telling a great brand story, take your brand’s social presence to the next level with these 7 principles to bridge the gap.

#1: Recognize that social media requires investment (and it’s worth it). Social media is here to stay—and it deserves the attention of a person (or team of people) with more experience than a college intern. Content thrives on a strong foundation of planning and strategy, and a deep dive into your target will tell you which of the ever-expanding list of platforms your brand will be able to make the most of.

As the landscape evolves, paid support is now a required piece of the puzzle and cannot be viewed as the thorn in the side of your marketing budget. Fortunately, paid social gives you far more targeting capabilities and is a must-have to amplify your organic content.

#2: Set clear goals and objectives. Metrics are your friend. Think about followers, engagement, timing, influence and sentiment to measure specific tasks within your social strategy. Then take a step back and look at the broader picture, including clicks to your website and conversion online and in-store. Track your links from social in Google Analytics or create a printable coupon that can drive brick-and-mortar traffic. Instead, pick out a few specific metrics directly connected to your campaign goals and either follow them from social campaign beginning to end or keep an eye on trends for ongoing content. Remember that metrics have your back.

#3: Cover your assets. There’s a reason the low-hanging fruit gets picked first. Share and repurpose content that already exists and is readily available. Think about every bit of owned material that your company has created, including FAQs on your website, photos from an event a few years ago, even printed brochures or internal case studies—anything that could provide value to your target is fair game to use as powerful social content.

#4: Connect and broadcast. The best relationships are founded on listening. Balance your owned content with a crowdsourced content strategy. What are your fans saying? What content do they most appreciate? Pay attention and you’ll discover they’re handing you an important layer to your content strategy. Figure out what motivates and captivates, and they will in turn be energized to share.

#5: Surprise and delight are mandatory. Be proactive, not just reactive. There’s no need to wait until customers are upset to send them product or share kind words to assuage the situation. Build a strong and loyal following by showing you genuinely care about customer service. You can make a future fan’s day with a sample or even a simple thank-you to let him or her know you appreciate the support.

#6: Make connection and sharing easy. Every owned asset should call out your social channels—and ideally be able to be quickly shared with a simple click. Share your social channels on your website, in your e-newsletters, in print ads, even on product packaging. Incorporating a relevant hashtag into campaigns is the new norm—and makes tracking the conversation happening around your product or service easier.

#7: ROI is real. And it can be measured. There are many methods to demonstrate the success of a social media program. E-commerce companies can measure ROI by tracking social referral sales conversions. Brick-and-mortar retailers can measure redemption of social-media-exclusive coupons as a driver of in-store purchases. Define your most meaningful metrics, benchmark and then continue to track performance.

Winning online only happens when your social media strategy amplifies every other space. When treated as an extension of the overall brand experience, social media pays dividends both in connecting with your target and in real dollars.

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