If you are a returning reader to the SocialSteve Blog, you know I usually provide some guidance, best practices, or strong opinions on marketing and social media. But in this post, I pose a question and look for your input. A question that I really do not have an exact answer to – in fact I do not think there is a correct answer. It falls into the category of “it depends.”
When is it appropriate for a brand/company to ask for something from their social followers?
So let’s face it. Social media is not a toy. We have business responsibilities and need to the answer the tough business question. While social media is an important approach in developing strong relationships with your target market, you are going to have to answer why and what is it doing for your business – performance metrics.
At the same time, I am the first (well maybe not the first) to say social media is not good for sales. So how do we deal with performance metrics when I am saying social media is not good for sales? Well, you know I love the social media marketing funnel. I’ve written a number of articles on it. (“Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel”, “Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel”, and “Social Media – How is Your Performance?” just to name a few.) You measure performance at each stage of the social media marketing funnel.
Now comes the question – do you let your prospect move through the funnel stages on their own accord or do you help them along? If you have business responsibility, the answer is you help them along. If you are looking to build relationships you might not see this as the answer. So if you have business responsibility and are looking to build relationships the answer is that you softly help them along. Yeah, this might sound like a cop-out, but it really isn’t.
A couple weeks ago I introduced the relevance of “psycho-demographics.” I contended that we must understand our target market’s individual state (as listed in the funnel above) and be contextually relevant. If you group your audience based upon funnel states (and other attributes) you can be contextually relevant and work on the relationships for that specific group. And if you do so, you can ask individuals to move to the next step (not literally).
In marketing, we call this request to move to the next step the “call to action.” But a call to action need not always be “buy one of these” and certainly not in a social setting. Throughout my career, I have run many marketing campaigns and I have generally followed one methodology. While social media is not a campaign and needs to be a continuous effort, the foundation of this marketing campaign is definitely applicable and provides excellent guidance. Here it is in five steps …
Defining the desired result –
a) What are you attempting to accomplish through this initiative? (Generate leads, build awareness, shift an attitude, build a client database, etc.)
b) What results are you seeking? (Generate __ hits on a website; capture __ new subscribers, __ “friend/connect” or “fans”, generate __ leads; generate __ requests of info, etc.)?
c) How do you intend to measure the results?
d) How will responses be captured?
Define the person who the communication must speak to. Identify them by their position/job description, industry, country-specific profiles, psychographic profiles, values and behavior.
Target Audience Perceptions
Describe the current perception of the target audience as it relates to your brand and what they think (positively or negatively). Describe the perceptions that need to be reinforced and those that need to be changed.
Offer and Value Proposition
Crisply and concisely describe the Solution/Service/Product/Program. This may simply be an initiative to gain awareness of your brand. Describe the functional role of the brand. Differentiation is also addressed here. Define the key message(s).
The Call to Action
Define what action you want the target audience to take as a result of the communication? (Subscribe, connect, attend seminar, visit a blog/website, answer a short questionnaire, tell a friend) How will you motivate the target audience to act in the desired manner and timeframe?
You see the call to action is well scripted in a marketing plan. But once again, a social program is not a marketing plan. We should take lessons from the marketing plan methodology and apply it to our social media efforts. For each stage of the funnel, see if you can define the five stages I have listed. They will vary in each stage because each group has different psycho-demographics. This becomes the bases for communication and socialization. It guides you to make sure you support and reinforce the brand position.
Now, back to the question raised in the beginning. When is it appropriate for a brand/company to ask for something from their social followers? When is it appropriate to have a call to action?
Here is my take …
Focus on socializing – delivering entertaining, useful, and/or valuable content. Make sure this is your real driver and that you are committed to engagement with people. If you really make content and engagement your key driver for social media, then, from time to time, you can and should have a call to action. But remember, the call to action must be contextually relevant to the psycho-demographics of the recipients. Your call to action should not be asking for too much, but rather the next logical step to be taken in deepening your relationships. Yes, the devil is in the detail and the detail changes for each brand and each funnel stage for the brand. Can you visualize and define the detail for your brand?
What is your take?
Make It Happen!