Social media as a marketing tool made great strides in 2012. The increased use of mobile devices drove social media to new heights giving consumers even greater power to share their opinions and revolutionizing the way people make purchasing decisions. As we move into 2013, marketers will continue to seek new opportunities to make an impact, and more brands that have been slow to adopt social media will enter the social media space. Given this increased competition and a desire to differentiate through innovation, what can companies do to take their social marketing to the next level?
Here are a few ways your brand can think about social media to break new ground:
1. Explore new territory
New, untested channels can be intimidating, but there are a number of benefits to exploring social media platforms that most brands aren’t using yet: you can experiment with messaging, discover highly engaged niche communities, plant your brand name in a new landscape, and get a head start on a growing platform. Marketers often overlook these benefits out of scalability concerns. However, the initial effort can often be integrated with your existing campaigns to minimize the need for invested resources.
For example, if your content strategy already calls for regularly asking consumers questions for market research or engagement, why not try asking those questions on Thumb as well? Your brand will get its feet wet in this relatively new, opinion-focused social platform and you’ll get feedback from another source to benchmark against.
2. Leverage new features on existing platforms
One of the benefits of social media’s rapid evolution is that existing platforms are always innovating to keep up. You can take advantage of the dynamic platforms and experiment within them without starting from scratch on a new network.
Google+, for example, recently launched a “communities” feature that lets people create interest-focused groups. Leverage this feature for loyalty programs by inviting your email subscriber base to join an interest community that’s tied to the product. Give the community incentives for being involved to encourage user activity.
3. Expand globally
For global brands, once you have established a social media strategy in one country, the next challenge is to scale your presence to multiple countries. It’s wise to approach this often-overwhelming task slowly by building up a larger global presence on your existing networks. Facebook gives brands the flexibility to geo-target posts to specific locations, allowing you to write posts in your audience’s native language. On Twitter, brands can translate their existing posts into a different language using an automated translation service and tweet the content on a language-specific feed.
4. Communicate in real time or in real life
If you really want to invigorate your social marketing activities, consider engaging with communities in real time or in real life. There are a number of easy ways to participate in conversations online with consumers in the moment that don’t have to cost you more time or money: host or participate in a Twitter chat or party, enlist influencers to interact with Facebook fans for a specific time period, or create a Google+ hangout between consumers and a brand ambassador. You can take these ideas offline as well with integrated experiential marketing campaigns to create online buzz. A hybrid approach might utilize Meetup.com to create an online community that also gathers in person.
How are you taking your brand to the next level in social media for 2013? Let us know.
Jaime Hoerbelt (right) is social media strategist with Tenthwave, which ranked No. 73 on the 2012 PROMO 100. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.