Many businesses think social media marketing does not apply to their business model, especially B2B (business to business) companies where the general public is out of their demographic. This couldn’t be more wrong. Consider Maersk Line, a B2B overseas shipping corporation whose social media campaign begins in 2011 led by Johnathan Wichman.
While most B2B companies conducted their business on LinkedIn, Wichman decided to start his marketing campaign on Facebook. Instead of the standard promotional content, Wichman put Mearsk’s archive of over 10,000 historical black-and-white ship photographs to work. He posted a picture with a caption commenting on the heritage of the company and inviting the audience to share their own content. This reassured the longevity of Maersk’s brand while keeping eye-to-eye with the audience. A photographer shared his own photograph with the Maersk page. User generated content gives an additional source content to a brand while engaging an audience. After 18 months Maersk had an impressive 800,000 Facebook fans wherein 15% were customers, numbers unheard of for a B2B company.
Maersk is one of the earliest examples of the power of social media. But how did they achieve such success? The answer lies not in the content, but rather in the way social media is managed. Social media is a constantly updating strategy, and for this reason it needs a formula which both aims your social media toward achieving your business’s goals and is iterative as to monitor and update them in real time. The social media framework serves as a guide to this process.
There are 6 steps to this process, all of which are interconnected and dependant on your goals.
This is the objective your business hopes to achieve. Perhaps it’s to outreach toward more customers, improve brand image, or shape an audience’s impression. It could also be internal, if your social media followers are generally company employees, you could be attempting to improve retention rates and internal culture. Maybe it’s financial and you want to maximize sales of your product.
Is your audience the general public or other businesses? Perhaps your audience is within a niche, or even several different niches. Maybe it’s your own employees. Figure out who your audience (or audiences) are and how your goals apply to them.
Consider what platform your demographic is on as well as what content these users need, and how this content should be delivered through the platform. You can use different platforms for different audiences, or even use different accounts for different demographics.
What brands or sub-brands are you trying to reveal to your audience. Decide which brand will be engaging in social media as well as how this brand image should come across.
Decide what type of content will be best for your brand as well as how to best deliver this content to the audience. Tailor it to the demographics you desire.
Disperse your social media to your audience. If your audience is your own employees, encourage them to engage with the account. If your audience is other businesses, contact them with the account. Encourage existing users to share content.
Measure the results of your social media campaign depending on your goal. If your goal was to gain more followers, how many did you gain? Did sales increase? Is public opinion improved? Has company culture changed? Measure the change overtime.
If your results are not up to snuff, go back through the steps and consider updating your process. Are you targeting the correct audience? Are you on the correct platform? Is your content accessing the audience? Is your distribution process optimal?
One of the examples of this process is ESPN’s SportsCenter social media. A college athlete had conducted a play in which he did a flip and kicked the ball. His fellow teammate, wanting to share his success, had tweeted ESPN with the clip and asked them to consider it for Sports Center’s Top 10 segment. ESPN saw this and put his clip on the top 10 slot. ESPN also saw potential for brand growth, the platform Twitter could be a powerful tool to start a hashtag and allow their fans to nominate which clips could go on the top 10. They started a hashtag #SCTop10 as a medium for this.
ESPN’s goal was to engage fans in their brand and increase ad revenue. Their audience was both existing fans who followed them on social media, fans who would like to gain recognition for their plays, and news outlets who might appreciate their new style of letting fans select the top 10 clips. Their platform was Twitter which is popular among sports fans for its immediacy and ability to comment on events in real time. Their brand was their Sports Center specifically, rather than their flagship ESPN account. Their content was fan generated and gave the audience more power over the program. Their distribution was fans watching during major sports broadcast, the selected clips would be sliced in between sporting segments and allowed the audience to select in real-time. With success measured, the initiative was successful because their sports segment received sponsorship and their follower count and fan engagement increased.
The key to the social media framework’s ability is in it’s iteration, it creates a simple formula for businesses to consider their growth, goals, and measure change. If you’re not a business but rather a single content creator, consider a marketing strategy endorsed by Kellee Maize.
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