Social media strategy (part 3): the plan of attack

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What is Viral Marketing? What can you do to attract the attention of your audience? How do you stand out from the crowd? What will make you go viral?

Social Media Strategy (Part 3): The Plan of Attack

This is the third part in our series of blog posts about The Art of Marketing Strategy. In previous chapters have discussed the importance of having a social media strategy and how to set measurable goals for your business. In this chapter, we will look in detail how to target the right audience.

Part 1 – The Challenge 
Part 2 – The Calculations: Setting Measurable Goals
Part 3 – The Plan of Attack
Part 4 – Choosing the Right Channel 

We know from movies and literature that the hero of the story always fights their arch nemesis. No matter how hard they try, the hero never gets stopped by the henchmen, just a little bit delayed. So what does that have to do with this post? In this case, you are the hero and we will be your sidekick, showing up when needed and providing the comic relief.

What do you need for a Social Media Marketing Strategy?

At first glance, developing a social media strategy might feel like an overwhelming task. You don’t know where to start and you need someone to help you out. After all, no one can fight a war on their own. The more you think about your strategy, the more questions you will have. So here is a short list to help you get down the gory details as quickly as possible. We provide the questions, but the answers are on you:

  • What are your social media goals?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How does your brand voice sound?
  • What is tone on your social media commentary?
  • What are the messages you are trying to send to your audience ?
  • What type of content are you going to publish?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you are ready to go into battle. But, how do you find a worthy opponent?

Figure out your social audience

To find your arch nemesis or your target audience, you need to rely on market research and intelligence to better understand how consumers behave online. Firstly, do you know where your customers and prospects are?

"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat."

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you are ready for battle:

  • What is the age range of your audience?
  • Where do they live? (this is especially useful if you are planning on paying for ads)
  • What is the predominant gender of your audience?
  • How do you create content and adverts based on the above information?
  • Which is the preferred social media platform of your audience? Is this the place where they get information from?
  • What type of content works best with the preferred content and the chosen social media platform?

Surprise your audience

"So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak."

Social media marketing is powerful. Companies are continually increasing the amount of time they spend building communities and followers on social networks. Initially, the emphasis is put on getting a “Like” or a follower. And unlike PPC advertising, social media is free.

So what can you do to attract the attention of your audience? How do you stand out from the crowd?

  • Use an appealing image
  • Try to spark a controversy
  • Involve your audience by asking for an opinion
  • Make your conversations about your customer and their interests, not about your product or services
  • Offer coupons and discounts

If you think your audience isn't going to be able to easily related to your product, then think of beans. More precisely, think of Heinz canned beans. Heinz had a Facebook page with a personality quiz to determine “Which bean are you?” for their newest product Five Beanz. By answering personality questions, the visitors not only found out their soul bean, but they also got presents for sharing. For the two weeks the campaign lasted, it got more than 22,000 likes and 10,000 shares.

Going Viral

It is not easy to predict what will go viral, even marketing professors find it hard. Jonah Berger wrote Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

"There is a science behind why people share. It's not chance, and it's not random. If you understand the underlying science of human behavior, you can predict what  craft your own contagious content - whether it's messages, products or ideas-that people are more likely to spread."

Berger believes that there are six key drivers behind virality.

  • Social currency (sharing things that make people look good)
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public (imitation what others do)
  • Practical value (news, information other people can use)
  • Stories

"Part of the problem with chasing this idea of 'viral' is that people build content that doesn't have anything to do with the brand," Berger contends. "You can make a really funny video, and people will laugh, but if it doesn't have anything to do with the service you're offering or the product you're selling, it's not going to impact sales. Too many companies and organizations are chasing good content without understanding how to make it help the brand."

Here is a quick example of how a board game came to be thanks to strong social media presence and a good strategy. Exploding Kittens is card tabletop game, created by Matthew Inman and game designers Elan Lee and Shane Small. They broke every Kickstarter record by creating the fastest ever funded campaign and the most-funded project in history. Thanks to the entertaining and highly-engaging online content, the artwork from the game reached an immense audience even before the game was created.

Another good social media example is the Squatty Potty. The video that introduces this product is a colourful unicorn who “creates” soft serve ice cream. Yes, it is debatable whether the campaign is more brilliant or more disgusting, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the most memorable campaigns from the past year. The video has almost 27 million views. If you think your job is difficult, think about your colleagues who need to market hygiene-related products. We know everybody poops. And now we know that only marketers know how to present it in a funny and weird way.

What other examples of good social media strategies come to your mind?

In chapter IV we will be talking about Positioning: finding the right place on social media for your business. Great war marketers know how to pick their battles... and battlefields.