You Ask, I Answer: Social Media Communications Strategy?

Norbert asks, “What are the most important things when developing a social media communication strategy?”

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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode Norbert asks what are the most important things when developing a social media communication strategy? The number one thing, by far when you’re developing a social media communication strategy, or any social media strategy is understanding who your audience is.

If you don’t know who your audience is, nothing you do on social media is going to work.

If it does work, it’s pure luck.

Right? What happens an awful lot of the time in social media is that we create content that we would want to see we as the marketers create stuff that we would like, right? And if we are not our audience, it’s not going to go very well.

Right? Because we’re going to create stuff that’s great for us and not great for the people that we’re trying to attract.

If I sell coffee makers, for example.

And I happen to like espresso machines, I create a ton of, of social media content and talk to people about espresso machines stuffing, we may find out that the actually the vast majority of your audience would like to talk about drip coffee makers, and for me to be out there saying, you know, espresso this and espresso, that would be a turn off, right? The audience be like, yeah, no.

So everything else in social media is secondary, to knowing who you’re communicating with and what they want from your communications, right, you have got to deeply understand their wants, their needs, their desires.

And do so while putting your company and what you want.

Secondary, right? That’s another really hard part for marketers to understand is both personal and corporate or brand ego needs to be put aside, nobody really cares about you, until you have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you care about them.

Right? That you are willing to do business with them obviously, and willing to trade value for value, but you’ve got to give value.

First, you’ve got to prove like any relationship, you got to prove value first, before asking for value in return a lot of marketing to fails to do that.

So what are some things that you’d want to know to establish who your audiences, you know, who is the audience? What are the basic things about them, like the age ranges your audience, your gender breakdown, ethnicity, generational differences, religion, your basic demographics, because even knowing something like that, it’s going to tell you about how the audience behaves, looking at stuff like device usage.

You know, if your audience is predominantly accessing your communications on a smartphone, and you are building and designing content for an HDTV, it’s not going to go well for you, right, you’re going to be creating things that the audience will have a harder time using, because you’re not in tune with them.

So even real basic stuff like that’s important.

What are your audiences key interests and affinities? Right? When you look in tools like Facebook Audience Insights or Google Analytics, you can get a sense of what audiences interested in affinities are, what are the in market for? Are they interested in cooking shows or science fiction books.

That information lets you create amazing social media content.

Larry Kim over mobile monkey calls this sort of the double unicorn strategy, where you find two things about your audience that are unique to the audience, and you blend them together.

So for example, if you’re selling coffeemakers, and you also know that your audience is really into say, Star Trek, if you were to do some research to figure out all the coffee and tea sets that were shown aboard the USS Enterprise on every Star Trek episode ever, you could, you know, include that in your content, create communications to your audience, knowing that they’re interested in coffee, but also knowing they’re interested in Star Trek, and hit the nail on the head so that you create social media content that your audience goes, that was made for me.

You made that just for me, you know, I love Star Trek.

You know, I love that weird.

handleless coffeepot that Captain Picard uses on Star Trek The Next Generation that’s knowing your audience’s interests and affinities.

Once your audience in market for right what is their buying cycle like so that you know when to time communications? If you look in a more sophisticated attribution model, it will tell you for example, which channels fit were in a customer journey.

So if your social media channels are all the beginning of the buyers journey, when the audience is just getting to know you having communications in your social media channels that were like by now by now by now, as is gonna irritate people, right? They’re gonna say like, oh wait Let’s go out for coffee before he asked me in your area, right? That’s the what you need to know about an ISP in market? What is the buying cycle right for your audience? versus what is the learning cycle? There’s

Christopher Penn 5:14

a famous quote from the LinkedIn labs last year 2021.

Saying that, for B2B as a specific to B2B 95 to 90% of your audience at any given time is not buying.

Right? So how do you create communications? How do you create content for an audience that is the vast majority is not in their buying cycle? Right? That’s really challenging.

And so that has to be part of your strategy.

And you need to know that you need to know what the buying cycle looks like.

For you to be able to tie into social media communications, for example, if you’re a realtor, the sort of generally accepted rule in real estate is that people are ready to buy a house every seven years or so.

So what do you do for the other six years and 11? Months? Right? What kinds of communications? How do you maintain a relationship with your audience? So that when that one person suddenly flips into buying mode, they were the first person they think of hopefully the only person they think of? How do you do that? How do you create that in your social media communications, spamming people with buying our messages? Or, you know, let me sell your house messages? Probably not going to achieve the effect you want? Where does your audience spend time online? Right, not just what social networks, but in general, this goes back to knowing your audiences, affinities and interests, you know, is your audience a Netflix audience? Are they a Disney plus audience? Are they a Hulu audience? Are they a Spotify audience? Or an Apple Music audience? Or do they like the five people who like Kanye his thing? Where do they spend their time? What has their share of ear and their share of eyeball? And how do you fit into that? Right? How would your communications fit into that? Which social networks? Are they on? That, you know, that’s gonna be partly driven on some of the the demographics, someone who’s on Pinterest is going to be a different person, a different audience than the folks who are on Tiktok? For example, not entirely, but there’s going to be some places where networks overlap, and some places where they don’t.

So you need to know which social networks someone is on.

What content does your audience react to most right? If once you know, for example, that we say 70% of your audience all likes the band Journey, right? And you look at the the audience analytics, the content analytics on journeys, Instagram account, What content do those fans react most to? And can you gain any insights or lessons from that content? And then what is your audience share? What do they talk about the most right downloading, if you have the ability to gather up for example, a Twitter list or an Instagram list or Tiktok list of your most avid fans? What are they sharing? What content? Where do they spend their time talking? One of the easiest things to do that almost nobody does, is put together a like a Twitter list of their top customers.

And then look at that list and see where those people are sharing the information from right.

It’s such a simple thing for like a social media ad strategy, or a an outreach strategy.

If 80% of your your, your private Twitter list is all sharing content from say, The Economist? Well, gosh, whose content should you be sharing? The Economist? Right? You know, what’s relevant to your audience? Where should you run ads on the economist website, but if you never do that work to understand your audience, and to get a sense of what it is that they are spending the time on what they think is so important and so worthwhile that they share publicly, you’re missing key intelligence right? Now, why don’t people do this? Well, this kind of research requires a lot of time and effort, right? This is not something you push a button or type into Google and you get an answer real quick.

You got to do stuff like serving focus groups, one on one interviews, all sorts of ways to dig into what your audience wants, right? A lot of back and forth and spending time with your audience.

If you have a place like a Slack server or Discord server or some other community, a Facebook group, a LinkedIn group,

Christopher Penn 9:33

you got to almost act like an anthropologist.

Get in there.

Start listening, start taking notes, you know, message people, here and there to get clarity on on certain points of view and things, but study them study them a lot.

Understand the psychology that drives your audience, and you will have much better social media communication strategies once you understand that.

Now Given this, you might ask, is it worthwhile to do this? Well, if you don’t get this information, then you’re going to be guessing.

Right here, we’re guessing you’re gonna be permanently repeating your greatest hits, because you won’t have any idea what actually lands with the audience.

If you understand your audience really deeply, you will be able to stay in front of the trends that they will be caring about, you will know what they’re interested in.

And you will be able to create stuff that anticipates their needs based on your deep understanding of who they are, that they might not even know to ask for.

Right? If you again, if you’re making coffee, if you sell coffee makers, and you deeply understand how people behave.

And you understand that folks who use your product also have a lot of work de stress, right, then they use your product a lot.

You might create content about like stress management, or project management or time management.

And at first, it might be all those things that seems weird, like why would a coffee maker brand would be creating so much content about stress management? Well, because you understand your audience.

And you know, this is a secondary problem that they have.

And if you create that content, your and your audience sees themselves in it, and sees themselves in their communications with you, they will appreciate it, they will be loyal to you because you understand them.

They will direct message you right? You’ll get way more engagement on your social media content, because you’re giving people what they want, what they need.

And you know that from the research you’ve done, so that’s a really important question.

Knowing what to knowing your audience to develop a social media communication strategy, all the other stuff, the tools, the time, all the stuff that’s secondary, right, that’s process and platform stuff.

You’ve got to know the people first before anything else.

So really good question.

Very important question.

Make sure that you know your audience really deeply because if you don’t, a social media strategy, and any marketing strategy simply isn’t gonna work.


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