It’s no secret you need to have a solid social strategy in place to reach your customers where they are in today’s rapidly evolving markets. In fact, we’ve talked about this before in previous articles about how you can use competitive intel to increase your social reach and engagement. But the question that still persists is how do you use social to develop your content and know what messaging is working?
Additionally, social is a powerful tool not only for sharing your messaging, but understanding what’s working in your industry or market. Messaging and positioning take a very large investment up-front, but the effort doesn’t stop there. Companies spent hundreds of hours, if not thousands collectively, trying to figure out how to make it all work. Understanding the audience on their terms, how their competitors are talking to the same audience, and then figuring out how to deliver products and services that meet their needs at the right time.
There are several effective strategies we’ve seen companies use and we’re going to outline a few tips to help you use social media to uncover the top performing messaging.
Evaluate the networks
Not all prospects are going to come to your company through the same avenues. As a basic marketing process, you’re going to identify which channels yield the highest returns and invest at different rates across all of those: email, social, events, etc. Of course, the rate of investment in each will vary depending on factors like the total addressable market, and market competition.
The same is true for social. You need to list the possible networks your target customers and competitors are using and narrow down the social media platforms you want to participate in. Social is a leading indicator, so monitoring the existing social ecosystem and strategically participating will influence how you approach messaging.
Consider the size and engagement level of the community of that social channel. The big media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the social channels you want to really evaluate. We’ll talk about this further down the article, but once you’re on the platform, you need to be active. A lack of participation has the potential to do more damage. Especially if a customer is trying to reach out directly, but goes unheard.
Watch the organic conversations happening between customers and between customers and your competitors. What they are doing across these channels, will not only help pinpoint the messages that are resonating, but can improve your paid campaigns. Making your marketing dollars go further. Watch what your competition is saying, are they responding.
Listen to the community
Is your messaging using the same language as your target audience? Companies can get stuck in the verbal rut, quickly. The best way to get the ears of your potential customers is by using the language they already use. But don’t only use the types of words they’re using, but how they’re using them – Like if they are asking questions rather than making statements.
There are many cases where a company will want to change the way a prospect talks about something and that may be true for many, but it’s not going to happen overnight. A larger initiative like that takes time and can’t be forced. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your company is not going to change the minds of thousands of people and drive demand in a week. You need to meet customers where they are and nurture them into a new way of thinking.
Ever heard the phrase “What Suzzie says about Sally says much more about Suzzie than it does of Sally.” The same logic applies to social listening to what your competition is saying, how they are saying it, and the method of delivery. Most companies are listening to customers, but you can’t forget about the competitors. Pay attention to how they talk about certain topics, the language, and the terms they use. While you’re listening to what’s going on, your competitors are collecting insights and testing out different messaging ideas. Don’t work harder, work smarter. Watch their channels and content for engagement rates to see what the true impact is on the audience. They’ve done the leg work, now you can use those key points to evolve your messaging to attract and win more business/
Even if you’re trying to create a new category, or change the larger conversation, using language that matches the customers. Using acronyms or cross-market jargon can waste time and resources if there’s no previous exposure. Messaging and positioning should always be evolving.
Join the conversation
Once your content is shared on social, how the audience interacts says a lot more about your messaging than you think. However, you can’t be a silent player. In the millennial world we live in today, companies, regardless of the industry have to regularly interact with customers. Connecting with the audience is fundamental to building trust, but the biggest value is hearing directly from customers on what they like and don’t like. As a professional in the space, you can generally predict how your audience is going to react. HOWEVER, having that mentality all the time will get you into trouble.
Whether your a product marketer or a growth marketer, you should be having conversations on social channels your customers exist. Make sure you have a thorough grasp on your companies policies and current messaging, but you don’t always have to use the company social handle to have a conversation with the audience. Ask questions that set you up to have valuable conversations – not just for you, but for the customer.
Recently I was talking with my manager and we were discussing how we’d want to approach potential prospects in an online forum. What struck me about the conversation was that she was willing to go above and beyond by offering to connect someone with another person in their network about a specific marketing topic. Now I know that sounds vague, but the question was very specific to create a type of content and she knew someone who was a subject matter expert at just that. The value isn’t always about pushing your message out, but truly listening to the needs and questions of the audience and finding a REAL solution. Creating that trust and genuine connections goes a lot further and can help you discover the true drivers or reactions to what you’re offering in terms of content or conversations.
Benchmark content data
Making assumptions on what social messaging is working is a dangerous game.
As marketers, we’re always looking for the data point that standouts or tells a story. That data is used to create content, build out the editorial calendar, and refine the target segments. Specifically, if it’s found across your social channels. It may not come as a surprise, but the insights used to build your content can also inform much deeper insights about your messaging.
Benchmark content data you use for content creation. How you’re creating, collecting, and using it over time will create a story that will inform a larger theme of how your prospect and customers are interacting with you, want to interact with you, or avoiding you.
Think of this process as a flywheel. Like the larger marketing flywheel, the uses of social to inform and develop your messaging strategy starts with evaluating where the conversations and happening and how you join the conversation. Once you’ve collected the data, make sure to use it. Top perform messaging is not going to benefit your team if it’s not activated.
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