The Impact of Your Social Media Blueprint on Consumer Behavior

Written by James GunterMay 10, 2011

Although Robert Frost found that taking the road less traveled made all the difference, your social media marketing campaign should help everybody find that same road and it should lead directly to you. Any good marketing campaign defines points of entry and channels of acquisition, and your social media campaign should be no less complicated.

Often times, social media is seen as a “free” marketing tool and therefore not worth much attention or time. But a good social media marketing campaign can be just as complex as any other marketing initiative and requires just as much attention, if your brand desires to get any ROI out of your “free” investment. But more than that, laying out your social media blueprint requires an understanding of how potential customers come to your social profiles and how to help nudge them into becoming repeat customers.

Profile Your Ideal Customer

First of all, you can’t effectively market to an incorporeal customer. So instead of trying to be all things to all people, sit down and figure out what your ideal customer looks like.

  • What is there age group and gender? (Does gender matter at all?)
  • Where to they work?
  • Do they have children?
  • How much money so they bring in annually?
  • How much education do they have?
  • What do they do in their free time?

Questions like these and others will help you flesh out who your idea customer is and help you create a better social media marketing blueprint. A blueprint that clearly defines an ideal customer will most effectively reach your ideal customer and persuade them follow your social media profiles.

Where’s The Cool Hangout?

Once you know who your idea customer is, ask yourself where they hang out online. Just about everyone has a Facebook profile these days, but Facebook might not be the best place to reach your optimal audience. Go deeper than the obvious places. Do they use Quora, LinkedIn, or Tumblr? Are there certain blogs and discussion boards that your customer is most likely to frequent? When you can find out where your best customers hang out online, you can then start to define your social media entry points.

What Do They Want?

If you have your idea customer in mind, what do they want? And not just from you, but in general—what do they want in their life?

  • Do they want to save money?
  • Do they want to improve their skills?
  • Do they want advice?
  • Are they worried about particular political views?

Question like these and more will help you understand what they want from social interaction in general as well as interaction from your brand in specific. For example, if your ideal customer is an advanced software programmer, they probably don’t want entry-level tutorials about how to manage their email. Insights like these will help you better tailor your message and your strategy for converting potential customers into repeat customers.

Giving Them What They Want

Social media is great because it allows brands to target customers in highly specialized ways. It allows brands the freedom to become resource hubs for their customers and followers in ways that were never possible before.

For example, let’s say you own a software company that helps children improve learning in subjects they are struggling with, and your ideal customers are mothers of children with learning disabilities. What does your ideal customer want? They want help, yes. But more than that, they probably want to express their opinions and frustrations about learning disabilities. They probably want to connect with other parents who are in the same situation. And they probably want updates about the latest news and therapies for children with learning disabilities—and not necessarily from your company. Through social media, you can give them links to important information around the web. You can ask questions that encourage emotional expression and respond to them with further resources. You can even create discussion groups where parents can connect with one another.

If you can create a resource hub for your ideal customers, not only will they be getting the information and emotional validation they need, but they will be building trust in your brand, giving you greater authority on the web.

The Nudge

Although most consumers these days are open to the idea of following brands through social networks, they don’t want every update or interaction to include an advertisement. They want to feel like they are friends with your company, not that they are simply dollar signs in your quest to take over your specific market. Stick to the 80/20 rule (80% non-promotional, 20% promotional) and you should be fine.

So if you can only use about 20% or your social media energy on direct promotion, what do you do with the other 80%? This is where you nudge. Although most users don’t realize it, the best social media applications subtly encourage users to perform certain tasks more than others. For example, Facebook wants you to share more photos, so they make it easier for you to share photos and add more, prominent photos to your profile page. Twitter wants you to follow topics as well as people, so they create saved searches. You can do the same with your social media campaign.

Your brand messaging, although 80% non-promotional, is always promotional. Through the language and posts that you create, you can encourage your followers to think about certain topics, express their opinions in certain ways, and take action in ways that are beneficial to them and to your brand.

For example, in the pervious example of mothers of learning disabled children: Share links that support technology-aided solutions to learning disabilities, start discussion about the benefits of online learning, create discussion forums specifically about sharing tips and tricks for using your software. In this way, you are still having an effect on your followers’ thoughts and feelings about your brand without being directly promotional.

Basically, the way you design your social media strategy, affects the way your followers will behave within it. So, it is imperative that you design your social media strategy so that it encourages behavior that is beneficial to your brand.

Don’t Be Big Brother

All that being said, don’t be big brother. Just because you have control over the design and messaging of your social media campaign doesn’t mean that you should delete negative comments, restrict movement within your website, or control your followers actions in heavy-handed ways. First of all, that’s creepy. And, second of all, your followers will catch on and stop participating in your community.

I think Geoff Corttrill, Chief Marketing Officer for Converse’s successful social media marketing campaign, has it right when he said recently, “We think that the fans of any brand want to know about product and like offers too, but they also want to have an emotional connection—we’re trying to be a good host for that connection.” If you can be a good host to your ideal customers, you won’t have to worry about changing their behavior, because they’ll already be doing it.

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