Questions raised during this workshop steered the main discussion and below are the main ideas:
Does social media work for all businesses?
Social media work only for those businesses where their target audience is connected to the internet and uses social networks. If you are a business targeting remote villages in rural Greece who are keen to buy a tractor – where we are certain that they have neither internet connection nor access to social media channels – we can’t help your business by engaging on social media.
How do you keep up all the publishing?
There is a common misconception that a business has to always publish content. The best content comes from your customers – empower them and reward their behaviour for doing so. For example, if you are selling cakes and want your customers to review your cakes for you online you might want to have a completion on your Facebook page where your current customers refer their friends to take part and through this action you can generate content from them and learn about their interest and their taste better. There are a number of creative contest ideas which could work on many networks including FaceBook.
How do you persuade managers who don’t even use email?
By showing real results. Which manager wants their business to fail? Internet and email are common communication platforms for businesses who no longer look for a competitive advantage it is becoming the norm. In several European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands and Norway are highlighted as countries with highest e-readiness in Europe. If you are a business in these countries and don’t use email you are at a major competitive disadvantage. However, as mentioned in question 1 it depends on your industry and your customers.
How much should you invest in social media?
It depends on your business and your business objectives. Social media is not only for sales and marketing development – it can be used internally to encourage operational efficiencies as well as externally to provide customer support. If you are using social media internally, for example for all internal company communications via social media such as discussion forums the real budget for social media can be measured on the technical support and training as well as the benefits that you can receive as a consequence of better knowledge management in your organisation.
If you are developing social media strategically to grow sales you will need to consider and test your market with pilot projects and evaluate if you can generate a Return on Investment. The bear minimum that a business should consider investing in social media in terms of customer support is the time for monitoring social media channels for example for Facebook and Twitter comments – which can be done relatively simply via TweetDeck; or if you are a hotel review websites such as TripAdvisor etc. It was found from past experience that customer complaints raised through social media are best dealt with courteously and in good time before they become difficult to manage.
Are there any existing methodological guides to plan strategically social media marketing?
Social media marketing follows the same management science principles as you do when you decide upon conventional marketing operations. First set planning objectives related to your business mission and history, business or revenue model, products & services and target audience. Then define your social media goals. Examples of such goals are: Validate a new product or service using social as a research platform. Develop buzz and interest around a new product. Engage users in social to generate relevant and targeted traffic to your site. Gain market share by leading customer/client service through social media. The next step is to find your SMM voice (segmentation). One of the key factors to ensure your success in social is to create and implement a voice that resonates with your specific target audience. For each audience type, break down and research age, income, location, and reasons for possibly buying your products/services. Then you must the appropriate social media mix. Choosing your social tools appropriately is an essential piece of your online communications plan. So choose wisely which of the social media type will satisfy a specific marketing objective.
How is social media marketing monitored?
In finding, creating, and delivering social media content is important to create a permanent mechanism that will monitor:
- the frequency of content delivery & response to social engagement.
- the types and specific topics for content creation.
- the ways to increase audience engagement.
- the events that can drive social media marketing
- the social success metrics (number of followers, number of fans, volume of traffic back to site, number of tweets, etc.)
- the specific Social media etiquette rules
We are looking forward to the next workshop in Romania and hope that you will be able to share your questions with us.