A focus on being genuine to your brand in your consumer interaction is essential. The “social” in social media is there for a reason and your interaction with your audience should always reflect the brand voice; a voice that should be familiar and comfortable to your customer or consumer. Don't use marketing speak. This is a conversation, not an advertisement.
As part of our ongoing coverage of <strong>BE 100s</strong>, the nation’s largest black-owned businesses, <strong>BLACK ENTERPRISE</strong>'s March 2011 issue highlights the digital media strategy of <a href="http://www.imagesusa.net/" target="_blank"><strong>IMAGES USA</strong></a> (No. 6 on the <strong>BE</strong> <strong>ADVERTISING AGENCIES</strong> list with $86.5 million in billings). The agency managed to successfully integrate its digital media strategy seamlessly into its campaigns to stay relevant and help their clients reach consumers. Here, the experts at IMAGES offer advice on how small businesses without deep pockets can connect with and grow an audience<em>.–Alan Hughes
<b>In any conversation, it is as important to listen as it is to speak.</b> Social media is an opportunity to have a direct conversation with your consumer, so it is imperative that the company listens. The importance of social media and the ability for companies to connect with their consumers cannot be underscored. Allowing the consumer to speak directly to a company about their products and services empowers them, but the real–‐time interaction with consumers also empowers brands. In addition, social channels can serve as an on–‐line “focus group” providing valuable feedback and in aiding a company with cost–‐efficient market research.
Frequency of engagement via social media is critical to engaging your audience. </strong>IMAGES USA uses the Goldilocks Theory – the frequency of contact needs to be just right. Not too much that your brand becomes annoying, but not so little that it doesn’t register with the consumer. A new study released recently by <a href="http://www.exacttarget.com/" target="_blank"><strong>ExactTarget </strong></a>and <a href="http://cotweet.com/" target="_blank"><strong>CoTweet</strong> </a>finds more than 90% of consumers have "broken up" with at least one brand on <strong>Facebook</strong>, e-mail or <strong>Twitter </strong>because of irrelevant, too frequent or boring marketing messages.
Reaching your target consumer where they are is critical. That means you need to have a laser target audience definition. Answer the following questions about your brand with diligence: Who is driving your business? Who makes up your core user or prospect? Once defined, you want to communicate with those audiences in their element online. If they see you all around them, across multiple platforms, websites and blogs, it enhances their motivation to engage you in conversation.
Every word you say matters, so choose them wisely. Remember, the Internet never forgets. Recently, some brands have received backlash from their fans and the media for their wayward tweets and Facebook posts. While these gaffs didn’t destroy these brands, what you say on behalf of your brand can build or destroy your credibility.
Make sure the right person is managing your social media channels. Be realistic of the time commitment necessary to manage one or multiple channels. It is probably not the job for the CEO or even the Marketing Director, and definitely not the sales director. IMAGES USA’s PR team manages their blog and Twitter feed. Whoever you choose, choose someone who can make your brand “walk its talk” and really embodies the mindset of the customer or consumer. It's a real conversation that should be fun, informative and friendly.