Simon Beck, business development director at PR consultancy Hills Balfour, answers one reader's question on launching a social media campaign.
Problem: Our mid-market hotel is preparing a major campaign that we hope will shape our image in years to come. We understand that social media needs to be a big part of this campaign, but we’re not sure if we’re going about it the right way. Do you have any top tips for using social media to promote a marketing campaign?
Solution: Social media was initially thought as being one of those buzz trends. Now companies are waking up to its importance as a way to communicate to customers and potential customers - but social media should never be approached just in isolation. Consumers today are able to research and digest information across a number of mediums – TV, print, online, radio and of course through social media. The key for any business is not to confuse consumers by sending out mixed messages across the different marketing platforms, or to switch all focus over to social media and forget the other mediums.
In fact the first golden rule is to understand that social media, like all other media platforms, is just a channel that should and needs to be part of any integrated marketing activity.
With this in mind, it’s just as important to build social media followers, as it is to retain and manage a customer database of email or postal addresses. Customers (and potential customers) want to receive information the way they prefer, and that may differ for different products. Having social media as one of a few channels for customers, allows you to communicate to those who like to receive information this way.
Just like in anything, customers need good reason to hand over their details. Using incentives like competitions and special offers is a great way to encourage customers to sign-up to receive regular updates from you, and for them to further engage with your brand or product. Don’t bombard your followers with too many messages, but provide regular enough interaction with them to keep them engaged.
The next thing to remember is the vast power of social media. Within seconds, commentary about your brand or product (whether be positive or negative) can reach thousands of people. The key is being able to respond just as instantaneously.
Know where your brand is most prominent online (e.g. sites such as TripAdvisor) and regularly monitor these environments. Use these sites as your customer feedback. If the sentiment is positive, then play on these strengths. If it is negative, then be sure to substantiate these comments – recognise and apologise if you are in the wrong, and show that you are taking measures to rectify these issues; or clarify and justify your position if you are in fact in the right. There are a number of tools out there that can help you with this.
So don’t be afraid by social media. It, like any other media platform, is just another way in which you can spread your brand and message to customers and potential customers. Just be sure to understand its instantaneous nature, and be prepared to react and respond as quickly.
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