Today, we welcome Hanna Oeljeschlaeger, Social Media Coach for DACH & UK at HootSuite. Knowing how complex the social media landscape can be to navigate, she’s going to share strategies e-merchants can use to identify the most effective social networks for improving web traffic and customer communication, without wasting money or time that could be better spent on developing core business.
In less than a decade, social media has gone from being a “fancy add-on” for a Business Plan to offering an actual set of practical tools which helps ecommerce businesses connect with potential customers. Social media enables marketers to conduct in-depth research within identified target segments, create personalized messages, interact with audiences directly and react to changing market conditions in real-time. So the question is no longer whether to include social media in a business plan but how to include it.
Cutting through the noise
Your ecommerce marketspace is based on one or more virtual platforms surrounded by noise from a large number of competitors, opinion leaders and other market participants, such as bloggers, who can all influence your online image by sharing positive or negative experiences with your brand. Having a clear voice will allow you to raise brand awareness and establish a lasting positive online reputation, ensuring coherence between your corporate identity and online image.
But how can you achieve these goals without wasting time and resources that should focus on supporting your core business? In this post, I outline a 3-step strategy to identify the most profitable networks for your business and develop a proactive communication strategy around only the most appropriate social media outlets.
1. Divide your target group into narrowly focused target segments using “Personas”
First, you need a clear image of the online audience you intend to reach. Given the anonymity of the virtual marketspace, a good understanding of target group characteristics gives your message a better chance of cutting through the noise to reach the segments that interest you. Developing “personas” is a proven way to illustrate characteristics, which simplifies the process of identifying specific segments within your broader target group. So how can you develop these for your business?
One way is to use the Twitter “search” tab of our Hootsuite dashboard, which provides an easy and effective function to set up search streams. These streams help you identify characteristics of your target group and divide it into clear-cut segments along identified demographics and psychographics. For more detailed information feel free to ask our Social Media Coaches here.
Quick guide to setting up your search streams
To give you an example of how search streams can support the segmentation process, let’s look at Sutter Home. The vineyard recently started an online business in addition to their local stores. As a first step towards this online expansion, management had to narrow its existing offline target group into smaller segments specific to their online shop.
In-depth research along industry keywords, including polls and monitoring of online conversations, allowed them to develop a specific persona. Research results were bundled into sections and framed by an avatar image and name within the age range of 21- 30, which corresponded to the majority of prospects within the target segment. The persona, illustrated below, focused on the most lucrative target segment within the broader target group.
Online target group (blurred)
Target segment (focused)
Personas provide the basis for the next two steps: matching target segment characteristics with the most effective communication tools and message appeal. These choices determine which social media networks are most effective for your ecommerce business.
2. Match your core product or service with your social media kit
Once you’ve identified your key target, it’s time to identify which communication tools your ecommerce business needs, based on your product or service’s core offer. The table below illustrates several different kinds of businesses and their core offer, with a suggested communication focus and the most effective social media channel for transmitting that message.
This selection is based on the largest global networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube), so you can use it as a guideline and adapt it to your local market. For example, are there any additional local social networks which you have to consider? E.g. Viadeo for France, Xing for Germany.
The ranking indicates the three most suitable social media networks for promoting your core product or service on a global scale. With the Hootsuite dashboard, you can connect your social media networks to communicate coherently and simultaneously across channels, as well as monitor all activities and react to changes in the market in real time.
Got it so far? Great!
Let's take a break to set up your Social Communication Strategy, while we wait for the crucial last step in the following blog post. The next post will show you how to stand out against your competitors using the right set of social media tools.
Get ready by starting your free 30-day trial: http://ow.ly/L7QJr
Written by Hanna Oeljeschläger (@HootHanna)
Social Media Coach for DACH & UK at Hootsuite