A few years ago the majority of brands concerned themselves with only a handful of social networks. Now, the likes of Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and Snapchat have joined the powerhouses that are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn and established themselves as important marketing channels.
But with so many channels available, which ones should we be using and how can we optimize our messaging to maximize impact?
Identify the right channels
When you start to take an in-depth look at the demographics using different social networks you will start to see interesting trends, such as Pinterest is overwhelmingly used by women. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is pretty much ubiquitous but once you dig down into the research you might find some valuable revelations, such as Facebook use is growing fastest among users aged 65+.
Think about which networks your clients and customers are most likely to be using, or even better, ask them!
Adapt to the platform
Think about the nuances of each platform you want to use. Instagram is about beautiful photos and short videos, whereas Pinterest might be the answer for an e-commerce business. Each channel has its own strengths and brands should ensure that content plays to those strengths. For instance, Facebook Posts with a photo generate 120% more engagement than plain text, while tweets with images see an 89% increase in Favourites and a 150% increase in Retweets.
Square pegs don't fit in round holes, so make sure each channel has a clear strategy and focused strategy.
Don't be afraid of experimenting
Just because your primary target audience can't be found on a certain channel doesn't mean you shouldn't use it. Take Snapchat as an example - its user-base is primarily teenagers, but that's not to say your golf shop shouldn't be running a well-planned campaign in the build up to Father's Day.
Provide value to your audience
If you want to contribute to the social media conversation, do it in a way that provides value for your target audience. Be useful, engaging and timely. Be sure to offer genuinely interesting, entertaining or helpful content in addition to the occasional voucher, competition or flash sale. There's way too much white noise out there already for you to be adding to it.
Create a congruous experience
Adapting to the platforms you are using is important, however, so is staying true to your brand identity. Be cohesive across your social media channels; have a consistent look, feel and tone of voice. Follow it through when you are interacting with users on a one-to-one basis too.
Create a single social media dashboard
Tools such as Hootsuite, Shoutlet or Sendible allow you to monitor multiple channels and engage with users from a single interface. Not only does this help save time, it will also help track conversations and keep things organised. Increasingly, brands are looking to integrate social media into CRM systems and this is particularly important for brands offering social customer service. Rather than having to start the conversation again everytime a customer speaks to a new agent or uses a new channel, the process would be much more efficient if the entire history was visible.
Monitor your analytics
Social media analytics tools such as Socialbakers make it easy to stay on top of your analytics from multiple channels in one place, allowing you to use social media to extract a wealth of customer insight. Measuring is equally as important before a campaign, as during. Defining what would represent success and capturing the right metrics before and after your campaign will allow you to see what's worked, what hasn't and how to fix it in future.
For an in-depth discussion on multi-channel strategies, join our free webinar on April 1st featuring expert speakers from Prezi, Simply Business, Direct Line Group, Shoutlet and Our Social Times. Register here: #TotalSocialMedia: Developing a multi-channel social strategy