Let’s skip the intro, and get right to the point.
Social media marketing in Trinidad and Tobago still has a long way to go to make it into the “Social Media Hall of Fame”. That means local marketers and corporate communicators have to step up their game.
So here’s my list of social media resolutions, in the spirit of helping you to have a successful new year. Feel free to share this list with your colleagues.
Know the answer to why
Some companies are on social media only because other companies are using it. Amid having gotten swept up into the digital marketing wave, always know why your brand is there.
Know why you post the type of content you post.
Know why you posted that status.
Was it for likes? Comments? Clickthroughs?
Know why some of the latest trends won’t work for you.
Know why you’re only using Facebook, and not Twitter. And know why not.
Stop preaching to the choir
Rallying people who are already predisposed to your cause or fall directly in line with your interests is far easier than marketing to people who aren’t like you.
The hard part about marketing is connecting with people who don’t think like you. The hard part is forcing yourself to challenge your assumptions about your audience, so you can get breakthroughs.
For example, you might be managing social media for a non-profit, and feel that everyone should care about your cause. You think it’s important…and most likely it is.
However, human beings are human beings. Most times, they won’t care about cancer, crime, literacy, or hungry children until it hits home. Don’t judge them.
Ask yourself, how can I communicate in a way that pulls them in at the time when they’re ready to receive and act on my message?
Ask yourself, what other angle can I use to get them to buy into what my brand is saying?
Acknowledge that your brand isn’t exciting
…Then make it appealing.
Look at your competitors – brands in your industry, and other brands that target the same demographic. How different do you sound from them? Does your Facebook page sound like your average, posting-updates-for-the-sake-of-posting-updates page? If it does, spice things up. Figure out which aspects of your brand personality different audiences will gravitate towards. And remember, some will like your colourful side. Some will like your calmer side.
The core challenge with social media marketing is coming up with great ideas. Creative drives engagement and hooks audiences. Mega brands like Oreo, Virgin, and Red Bull get attention because of the ideas they use to impact people and sell their value proposition. Next year, I’d like to be able to list examples of Trinbagonian companies whose work can stand next to this type of quality marketing. Yes, you mightn’t have big budgets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative.
Create original content
Give your audience original content that makes them want to come back for more. Sure…go ahead and share that cool article from a non-Caribbean site. But mix it up with content that fits your audience’s local context – content that speaks directly to the experiences they have on an almost-daily basis.
Most marketers and corporate communicators will agree that content marketing is important, but few feel prepared to deliver it. Lack of resources – human and financial – is part of the issue, but the willingness to bang your head against that proverbial brick wall to come up with great ideas is also part of it.
Which leads me to…
You know that boring news release you sent to the Trinidad Express, Guardian, and Newsday? Surely, you can write it better. And surely, you can find a few angles to use in your social media communication. Don’t just copy and paste your release. Pull out one point, and craft a story around it. After all, you should be telling stories about your brand.
Ask yourself the different types of content you can get from one story/idea. You’ve got text, photos, and videos. Pull out quotes. Put them on photos. Use different images on different networks. Turn one piece of content into ten pieces of content.
Be helpful. Stop the constant promoting
If every other status update from your brand is about your product, revisit your strategy. You like people who help you out, right? People you can turn to when you need reliable information to help you get stuff done. The same goes for brands. We already know what you’re selling. Be creative and tie your value proposition to what’s relevant and helpful for your audience. Connect lifestyle issues to the messages you’re putting out. It’ll help you to build better relationships with audiences.
Use a new social media platform
Don’t do it for your brand, unless it makes sense. Create a personal profile, so you can experiment. The reason I’m suggesting this is because just reading about Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Snapchat isn’t enough. Just asking someone else how they think Trinbagonians are using Instagram won’t cut it. You have to use it yourself, play around, maco, and see how consumers in your market are using social platforms. You’ll better understand users’ online culture.
Don’t be afraid to fail
It’s part of the experimentation process. Sometimes, you’ll ‘feel bad’ because no one liked your post, but keep trying. You won’t get to know what drives responses from different types of people in your audience, until you start experimenting. That’s how you get to know your audience, challenge your assumptions, and discover new techniques that you would have missed. Social media will always have new lessons for you.