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How to make social media an asset to your business

Social media doesn’t work. There, I’ve said it. Unless, and there is a catch, it’s integrated into your business objectives. So many marketers have jumped onto Twitter, Facebook or a blogging page without tying them into business goals. What happens as a consequence is lots of work with no return, or potentially a more damaging result because the audience is confused.

First and foremost, it’s important to identify the target audience. This can be done through segmentation or, as most marketers are currently doing, through personas. A social media strategy has to tie in with the sales targets – it’s one of the fundamental pillars for account based marketing (ABM) to work.

Persona development is a form of programming done at base level marketing that forms the structure of everything else that is to be delivered. Coming from a computer engineering background, I always like to get the core program sorted out as it saves time and energy later on in the process. This applies to marketing too. In effect, what works best with ABM is a consultative selling approach. This way the value proposition becomes more important and, therefore, understanding the buyer persona is the core program.

Before starting your persona activity, I’d like to lay out three challenges of integrating personas into your day-to-day work:

  1. One mistake is treating building personas as a chore, without prior understanding of how we will use this information. Don’t pass persona building off to an individual that perhaps hasn’t understood the business objectives, or hasn’t even been shared the vision.
  2. I also believe that we focus too much on content, although it’s much more than that. It’s about getting personal and understanding who you would like to build a long-term relationship with and how this is spread throughout the organisation’s touch points.
  3. Lastly, personas are not everybody’s cup of tea and, therefore, need to be nurtured into the organisation.

Once these are in place, you can then ‘go to town’ on your content strategy and sales engagement. Get your sales team up to date on the personas, and they can help you with some fine-tuning as they are living things and will need to be adjusted over time.

From the business goals you have set as a company, department or team, this will help you identify which social media channels will better support your objectives. For example, showing expertise in your domain would result in a strong Twitter and LinkedIn presence, with thought leadership pieces and blogs throughout your website building your credibility.

Always create the strong core programme through your knowledge of your customers. Once created, it’s worth spending time on it so you can then create your marketing strategy, based on the business objectives. If you go straight to social media as the solution without this first step, it won’t work. There, I’ve said it again.