Q & A – How to get social with the right audience

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In this Q and A, digital marketing consultant Elizabeth Malone-Johnstone explains the common pitfalls made by SMEs engaging online, and the importance of keeping it real…      

What are your top tips for a new business that wants to explore social media?   

It’s important that you view social media activity as a key part of your marketing strategy and therefore, your overall business strategy. Start by thinking about your objective and how you can use social media to help support your business goals.

Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, the answers to questions like what channels to use or how to use them will come much easier. After this – the best way to learn is by doing. Each platform has its own conventions and best practices so you really have to be active on social media to succeed there.

What is the one piece of advice you’d offer an SME wanting to engage in social media?  

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time and effort an engaging, well maintained social media presence demands. Start with one or two channels and do them well rather than trying to do too much at once.

Also be helpful and be human!

What are the most common pitfalls you’ve seen when businesses engage digitally?

Digital offers so many great opportunities to really connect with your existing customers and reach new audiences too. Sadly, many businesses still see social as a sales channel. Social media is about fostering relationships and engagement, not selling. There are still far too many businesses just pushing out sales messages and forgetting about the engagement element completely.

Also, businesses that delegate (or relegate) the management of their social media brand channels to very junior or inexperienced members of staff miss the point completely. Social media is not an optional extra or passing trend key to your marketing strategy.  It needs to be part of an integrated marketing strategy.

Elizabeth Malone-Johnstone

Elizabeth Malone-Johnstone: Social media isn’t an optional extra

What is the most successful social media campaign you’ve seen recently?

Social media can really prolong and amplify brand messages and a recent example of this is the John Lewis #ManOnTheMoon Christmas campaign. It was mentioned on social media nearly 40,000 times within the first few hours of the TV ad being aired.

In a social media landscape that’s dominated by celebrities and bloggers, how can businesses make themselves stand out from the crowd, and remain credible?

This is where knowing your customers becomes crucial. Think about ways to add real value and solve problems for your target audience. Use social media as an engagement tool rather than a glorified loudspeaker.

What is the best platform for a consumer business?   

It really depends on what the business or product is all about. Also turn the focus back on your target audience. Where do they hang out? Where are they based? What age are they? Twitter and Facebook have the broadest reach, but that also means it can be difficult to get cut-through. Instagram is ideal for younger audiences and lifestyle related brands. Then there’s Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube…

What is the best platform for a B2B business?

Again – think about what you want to achieve. But an obvious addition would be LinkedIn. Create a company page for your brand if you haven’t already, publish articles and contribute to LinkedIn Groups to raise your profile. Google My Business (Google+ for brands) is also key for local businesses.

How important is it for businesses to have a company blog nowadays?       

Very important! A blog is a brilliant way to demonstrate expertise and provide unique, relevant content to web visitors. It’s also a great way to improve your website’s search rankings. A word of caution though – create content for humans beings not search engines.

Elizabeth Malone-Johnstone is a Digital Marketing Consultant, a Chartered Marketer and the Director at Digitise this Ltd., which provides expert digital marketing advice and support to SMEs. 

If you’d like to find out how to uncover a story in your business that journalists will love to cover, download our free storyfinding toolkit here.

Halima Khatun

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