The first step in positioning through social media is to get to know your audience intimately. Commonly referred to as social media monitoring tools, they allow you to sort through the millions of possible blog posts, tweets and videos by honing in on relevant conversations by your target market.
Once this target market has been identified and it’s true needs, wants, communication style, and culture determined, then the conversation begins. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s a series of questions, value-added content and engaging conversations using multiple media.
Over time each of these little interactions forms and tells your positioning story. How you answer questions, share information, and produce content must be consistent with your brand and the positioning story you want to tell.
Human hardwiring for stories comes from our deepest impulses as social creatures who want to build a connection in community. What does this mean in a wired, branded, and globalized world? Understanding narrative power is even more critical in the contemporary cultural context, where advertising and marketing have become central engines of the economy.
Modern branding metaphorically burns emotional and narrative qualities into a thing so as to create in the customer (or target audience) an inseparable recognition. The brand is not merely a logo, colour scheme, or specific flagship product. The brand is the sum total of the stories that are told about the branded entity and encompasses images, impressions, gut feelings and associations.
Branding is one of the ways that narrative power is experienced, referenced and discussed. But the popular discourse around branding frequently lacks a critical power analysis, i.e. how did these advertising images and stories get inside of our heads? How do some stories spread and saturate popular culture while others are ignored. This is the power of memes which we will discuss at length next blog post.
Today I want to focus on the story foundation for your social media campaign. Over the coming weeks we will look at what are stories, how to tell them across the social ecosphere, including building Brand YOU, tools you can use to illicit great stories, how to change a current story for social change and the power of delivery and passion.
Laying the foundation for your social media storytelling brand campaign
Make honest positioning statements with real-value positioning statements, don’t manipulate your prospects. Appeal to their core needs.
Here are some tips:
- Plot your audience as shown in Figure 1.0 – pay special attention to identifying all the stakeholders who impact your vision
- Look at the lifetime value of a customer. Have a strategy to create repeat purchases.
- Don’t be tied to a desk – optimise your use of ‘what mobile means’ – be able to do business anywhere – 24/7 using social media strategically. Be everywhere your customers hang out with your digital outposts
- Use marketing weapons like Ping.fm, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite as well as RSS aggregators to help you distribute your story to hundreds of different social networks
- Build alliances such as common networks on Digg. Such alliances can work together to get get stories highly ranked. Tip: Organisations like CNN get a lot of their breaking news from the front page of Digg. YouTube, Facebook and twitter alliances can be very powerful too.
- Work anywhere, anytime – manage your teams, collaborate with customers and work on projects using wikis, VOIP phones, Yammer.com and Google chat
- Use free digital giveaways to add real value and benefit to your customers. Personalise this wherever possible. One size no longer fits all so learn how to effectively use Autoresponders to keep the sales cycle moving
- Build a referral and rewards programme – Promote others who add value to your business, compliment it or offer help. You can blog, organise a testimonial, send links, think creatively.
- Use affiliate software and networks – software allows a marketer to track who has referred business or leads. Once signed anyone can publish a link embedded with a unique identifier code, potentially becoming your marketing partner and can generate income as a commission. Today anyone on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn can market your products or services for you.
- Be likeable – being likeable is like having a giant “open for business” sign above your head – help customers reach personal goals, fulfil needs and improve the lives and businesses around you. Always say thank you and recognise those who help and promote your ideas.
- Respond quickly to public or private questions, comments or concerns. If you want to be liked make others feel liked too!
- Build bridges – don’t argue or respond to criticism – instead inform, educate customers and strengthen your brand
- Have fun – be personable, human. Social media is an engaging eco-sphere
- Observe the nano –niche markets you are engaging within and adjust engagement accordingly. Each niche has subtle cultural, etiquette and values differences.
- Be congruent across the social –eco-sphere
- Seek out testimonials – think of the social eco-sphere just like a referral for a new restaurant to dine at – people share positive feedback and like to ‘try’ something new
- Invest in your reputation long term – mange, monitor and build your reputation – monitor what is being said about your brand online, correct mis-information quickly. Make sure the customer experience is one where they can contact you quickly with a concern and that you are equally responsive quickly. This means everything from twitter replies, website navigation, invoicing and email auto-responders must be produced in a way that creates an ideal customer experience.
Here’s a example of how you might integrate all of the above using the social ecosphere.
- And finally, delight your customers – do more! Give exceptional service and they will tell others. Don’t be frightened to similarly fire customers who no matter what you do are never happy. You can’t win here instead focus on those you can delight and continue delighting!
Credit: A great book to read to assist you with growing your online influence is Guerrilla Social Media Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson and Shane Gibson