In the concept of an open marketplace in the earliest days of business, there was basically a need for vendors to have literally the loudest voice in order to make a sale. Now that we aren’t all competing for the ears and attention of consumers in a single, isolated corner of the world but rather for the attention of the global community, simple yelling just won’t suffice. It’s with that in mind that we’ve put together a few tips for maximizing the effect of your communications strategy along with suggestions on how to make it happen.
1. One-to-One Communications
Yes, this means have a conversation. Though you will be addressing thousands or even millions of people every time you email, tweet, or post online, you need to recognize that each time you do that you are inviting the possibility of just as many individual conversations as well. In fact, in many ways the level of success you have with a social campaign will be measured by the engagement you have from each post, only strengthening the importance of opening with a conversational tone. Billboard-style statements will only carry so far these days, so instead consider each line of text that your company presents as an opening line of dialogue. When consumers have as many different channels to engage with a brand as they currently do, if you aren’t positioning yourself to have a dialogue, they may just have it without you and you do not want to be left out of the conversation.
2. Be Authentic
This should go without saying, but with the increasingly segmented nature of social media, there has been a distillation of the communities that frequent certain areas. This can be either a boondoggle for companies that have focused in on the characteristics of their market ad potential customers, or it can also be a recipe for disaster. A problem arises only when brands have assumed that they can waltz into new social arenas to engage with targeted demographics without respect for the authenticity it takes to also be a credible voice. The best way to avoid this happening is to remain humble and honest (two of the most important tenants of authenticity) by gradually establishing a foundation of credibility. Fans of a certain television show or recreational pastime who share key demographics with your ideal customer will likely warm to your presence in their community as long as you aren’t blatantly disregarding the importance of actually talking about whatever it is that makes that community unique. Remember, you are not the expert in their hobbies, and they can smell a phony a mile away.
3. Relevance is Key
This is perfect segue into the topic of relevance. It should go without saying, but like in all communications, the first and foremost important concept to address is considering the audience. For consumer communities who are based around technical and work-related topics, it’s appropriate to discuss the more proprietary aspects of your product or service that provide a performance benefit. This type of content, however, will not be as useful in an arena focused on the finer aspects of Harry Potter fan fiction. The point is that you want to be seen as a credible resource for when your audience is ready for some buying questions, and you will only get there by establishing a reputation for consistently offering relevant and credible information.
4. Qualitative Versus Quantitative
This is probably one of the hardest things for marketers to accept, but focusing on quality over quantity is pivotal in accomplishing the previous steps to boost a brand’s communications strategy. Every good business endeavor will have certain characteristics and certainly measurability is a big one. In marketing that means that growing the social footprint, increasing the total number of impressions, and generally widening the reach of a particular megaphone will likely be both the way to measure your success and the way to justify the value of your work to your organization as a whole. This is why it is often hard for marketers to remember the value of a single, high-quality interaction in the face of mountains of analytics. Considering, though, how a single review can make-or-break a young business or how a truly empathetic customer service interaction can humanize and bolster a larger organization, the value of treating each and every interaction like it is the only customer you have cannot be overemphasized. This may be a difficult sell to the folks in the corner office, but success here will mark success in all of the other steps as well.
5. Have Some Fun
It’s important to remember that your customers aren’t employees 100% of their lives, and neither are you. That’s why it’s important to loosen up a little bit from time to time. Your brand has a personality, and so do you and your fellow marketers, so make sure to showcase that from time to time. Many companies have various charitable endeavors that they find near and dear to their hearts and that’s a safe place to start, but remember that it’s okay to just have a little fun from time to time, too. Even if you are following the four previous tips to the letter, speaking only about features or products that provide a performance benefit can fatigue your audience, so mix it up a little. Doing this will differentiate your brand and keep your audience interested. And remember, an interested audience is an engaged audience.
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