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Social Media: The Final Frontier

Social Media, is it really the final frontier of marketing? The short answer is no, technology will see new methods and concepts evolve, pushing marketing, and indeed all aspects of business, beyond its current state.
The longer answer, to assume that one aspect will provide the answers if you manage to conquer it is short sighted. Having such a narrow focus means you will miss the other building blocks needed to be successful. However, that is not to say that social media is not important, but you need to build it into a wider strategy.
When determining your social media strategy you need to think of social media as your ship – it may look shiny and advanced, but without the correct crew, fuel, navigational systems and a plan, that ship is not going to get the chance to boldly go anywhere.
Start first with the crew, otherwise known as your staff. Do you plan to integrate social media into your existing staff or do you want to outsource the process? Are your own staff aware of their own social media presence, and how they can represent your company online even if they are not aware of it?
All aspects of business require cohesion. Is your branding consistent across your platforms? What about LinkedIn? Unknowingly, even unwillingly, your staff contribute to this branding. If you have someone who actively associates with clients that is the name that will be associated with your business, the client may even be unaware of you, even if you are the Managing Director or the CEO. Your staff are your first line, so make sure they have pressed their suits and shined their shoes, or rather, updated their LinkedIn profiles and keep their own personal social media accounts free from damaging material.
Obviously, you cannot actually control what your staff posts and how they operate online, which is why you need to make sure your staff are aware of your expectations. You need your entire operation to share your organisations goals and values, and in turn your expectations of them. You communicate to your staff how you expect them to reply to emails politely and efficiently, why not do the same with how they represent your business online?
Your staff also help to create the navigational system and plan – how is Social Media going to help you achieve your goals? It is important to determine your plan before you start to post, so that each post helps to achieve what it is supposed to. While blindly posting relevant content will still create a social media presence, it will make it harder for you to determine what is working for you and what you could tweak.
Building from the point before, you need to make sure your social media content is tailored for the site that you are aiming to publish upon. The ideal twitter post will differ greatly to the ideal LinkedIn post, due to the audience and the preferred format of posts on the network. In fact, content which may be shared on one social media may not meet the criteria you have established for yourself on another.
The goals, aspirations and company ideals should help form your ideas, your posts on social media should be consistent with your brand, and your social media navigational plan should be tailored to help build your business and achieve your goals.
Your navigational plan could also include marketing aspects outside of social media. It’s important to not find yourself fixated on a final destination, and potentially miss the opportunities which pass by your window. Supplementing your social media position with a magazine article which raises your public persona, participating in business expos and still making use of traditional media.
Finally, you need the fuel to allow your social media ship to take off, otherwise you have many places to go, but no means of getting there. The fuel is the content, the words and images that you plan to share. Social media requires you to actively engage, it is not something that you set up and leave to look pretty in a museum. This is also where you have to consider cost and budget. You can attempt to run a social media campaign with no allocated budget, making use of the free features of the various websites, however, to truly be successful you need to be willing to spend. Investigate the advertising options available to you, and be willing to trial different methods in order to find what works for you.

Purnima Kabra