• Priya Sharma Shaikh

5 questions a brand needs to answer before it gets on social media!

This is the age of social media! All of us and our parents (and even some of our grandparents) are on Facebook, Instagram if not on the other platforms. This over-reliance on social media is a subject of concern given how it impacts our attention spans and is (maybe) making us more narcissistic and unhappy. There’s of course the other side of social media, which is the flat, non-hierarchical nature of these platforms that allow for peer-to-peer communication between people from different parts of the world.

The growth of social media has been a blessing, especially for small businesses who now have a virtual platform or marketplace to reach out to their potential consumers. These platforms allow precise targeting of niche audience groups, and brands can start advertising at a cost of as low as Rs 100. This has opened up avenues for everyone from local brands to niche publishers to content creators of all stripes to build their businesses without an on-ground marketing team.

But it’s not easy for a new brand to build salience on social media. It takes time, effort, luck and a lot of experimentation to build a loyal following that is interested in what the brand has to offer. Let us help you by clearing the air and sharing a few nuggets of wisdom from our experience. Read on to know what questions you need to answer before you can build a powerful presence on social media.

Why social media?

An innocuous question, but a significant one nonetheless. I know, I said all those things above, but you’ve got to be clear about your expectations from social media. Do you want to drive sales by driving traffic to your site? Or do you want to engage customers to create awareness of your brand? Or do you want to push people to download your app or do you want to build the audience base for your portal?

Your content strategy will be defined by the answers you give to the above questions and to the answer for the next big question.

Who is your target audience?

Given the objective for your presence on social media, who is your ideal audience? What demographic profile are you interested in? As is obvious, this will vary from brand to brand. For a woman’s lifestyle magazine the target will likely be woman between the ages of 18 to 40, in urban centers with educational qualifications between high school and post-graduation. For a stand-up comic, the audience will be younger, 15 to 30, centered in tier 1 and 2 cities, who consume a lot of video content.

Most platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide advanced targeting abilities that help you reach precisely defined audience pools

The target audience can also be defined by their behaviour online. This is done via keywords that you think your ideal consumer would be interested in. You can even segment the audience based on their handsets and the content they’ve liked on these platforms.

What should the content strategy be?

Based on the above two definitions you can build your content strategy. If you are an online publisher of niche content then you are likely to want repeat consumption of your content by your consumers. You need to know what they would be interested in reading or knowing, what they would find exciting enough to share with their fellow community members, who the influencers are in that community and so on.

If on the other hand you are a video content creator of food recipes, you need to know what categories of recipes people are most interested in, how your audience can get better at cooking, what small tips will help them impress others.

Content comes in all shapes including video, podcasts, articles, images, GIF’s and simple text

While video and funny GIF’s are known to travel farthest, an interesting article about something hitherto unknown about a very common-place thing, event or person could go far too. Simple interactive questions are a great way to engage with your audience. There’s no knowing what will work best, so the best thing to do is to keep trying things.

What should the distribution strategy be?

Interlinked with these above questions is the question of what platform to be on. Just because there are a dozen or more social media sites doesn’t mean that you need to have a presence on all of them. Each platform has its own dynamics and people behave differently on each of these. Facebook is a personal space one shares with her family and friends while Twitter is a place to follow celebrities and people you admire or like. The behaviour on these platforms varies and so do people’s expectations from content.

It might make sense for a B2B service provider to be active on Twitter but not on Facebook. But there’s no rigid rule-book here. If a heavy machinery manufacturing company can come up with an interesting content strategy for Instagram, it could well create a differentiation for itself.

It’s important to marry the brand and the content to the platform

Things that work on one might not work on other platforms. Instagram is all about images and small videos while LinkedIn is all about subject matter expertise. Accordingly, content will have to be driven by these considerations.

Should we go the organic or paid route?

The choice is stark. If you want to grow fast and have the budgets to do it, then by all means, spend money. There’s however no guarantee that the audience that paid advertising brings in will be loyal. Organically garnered audience is the best bet but unless you hit on a few viral pieces of content, you will take time to grow your base.

It will take a judicious mix of organic content and paid promotions to grow a good quality base fast enough

The only way to hit a rich vein of growth is by experimenting continuously with your content and iterating it based on feedback. Since the costs of experimentation on social media are so low, everyone can afford to do it. Once a content piece shows audience interest you can give it a push by putting money on it and promoting it to relevant audiences.

I do hope this blog will help you to get started and find answers that will form the bulwark of a solid social media strategy, in times ahead. All the best!

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