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DIGITAL EXPOSED: How to develop a social media strategy

122820120523tfiacportraitsAustralian fashion retailers are using multi-channel retailing to augment the in-store experience for brand-conscious shoppers – but now that they’ve opened up the channels, what now? how do they go about developing a social media strategy? And what does it entail?

A Social Media strategy is an extension of your brands’ current communication strategy.  Social Media provides opportunities to leverage huge networks of current and potential customers to enhance the PR, Marketing and Sales initiatives already in place.

In addition to this, the opportunities that present themselves through the correct use of social media allow businesses to use their creative flair and understanding of their customer to completely reignite their current strategy and maximize its impact.  Social Media is central to all business communication strategy and should be treated as such.

To develop an effective strategy, designers, fashion retailers… any business for that matter(!) must ask themselves some simple questions before they begin:

  • Who am I designing/ buying for?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What does my business offer them that is different from my competition?
  • How can my business become important to them?
  • How can I ensure that what I design/choose is something that they will want to buy (aka: sales)
  • How do I position my brand/business as the authority in my industry
  • How do I make my customers feel loved

The power of social media is that your customer has a greater voice in driving the ‘creation’ of your brand. Strategy must shift to be 100 per-cent focused on giving your customer what they want, what they will respond to, while showing that your brand understands, listens and wants to grow with them.

The trick is to do this and still maintain your brands core values and objectives.

In our experience, (The Digital Aviary and Social Media Servants), we find all great strategy is based around one fundamental mechanic:

social_media_1To develop content that will elicit a positive/constructive response from the target market. Great content that will incite action, engagement and provide an ongoing and consistent communication mechanism.  Great social media strategy invites your market to be part of your brand and make them feel that they are helping the business grow.

So what does this basically mean? A great strategy must include:

  • Talking to the right audience
    • Who is your target audience: The better you know this, the easier the entire social media strategy becomes. Being vague about who you are targeting will cause your online presence to suffer.
  • Talking about your brand
    • What are your key messages?
    • Why will your community care?
    • What’s in it for your community?
    • Are you just selling to you community or building a relationship?
  • Talking about things that they are interested in
    • What content will you be creating?
    • Why is this relevant to your business and your audience?
    • How are you making their lives better?
  • Achieving desired outcomes
    • What are your digital objectives?
    • What are you business objectives?
    • How to these work together?

Why is it important to have a strategy rather than just feeding posts here and there?

When working well, your social media strategy is a symphony of planned content that meets community and business objectives. Understanding what your market wants, how they respond and ultimately what triggers them to purchase is the goal. Without strategy, planning and clear objectives, you simply won’t win.

In simple terms: poor social media looks for quick sales, great social media looks to build customers for life.

It’s worth remembering that your customers join you on social media because they are interested in your brand.  This is a privilege; you get the chance to communicate with every one of your customers daily.  So, don’t you think it is best to use this privilege and make sure you add value to the lives of your customers?  If you don’t, you are one click away from losing them forever.

So don’t feed post, plan, manage and respect your customers.

How many posts is too many? What’s the average amount of posts you should do a day?

Social-Media-PeopleThere is no ‘one size fits all’ and this is why having a strategic foundation is so important.

The answer is simple – the optimum amount for posts for every community is the number that shows the greatest amount of engagement, love and interaction wit your brand. How do you do this? Analysis!! Every single community is different and should be treated as such.

As a business or brand owner, you have to understand analysis and the simple metrics of social media.  Once you understand this, social media becomes a fun (and addictive) daily game.

The daily game includes the variables:

–               How many posts per day

–               How many posts lead to sales

–               How many people converse/ interact with my brand

–               How many friends/fans do I have

–               Where are my customers?

–               What angers my community

You can choose to do as much or as little analysis as you like on social media.  It’s not difficult once you understand it, but the rewards include a greater insight into your customers and how/ why they behave in a certain way.

Many retailers link up their facebook/twitter/instagram accounts, but this also means that they double up on images/news across channels, which can be annoying for followers of all three. Can you explain each of the these channels and what kind of content they should post/share on each?

Facebook is the ‘sign post’ of the digital world. It is the platform that (almost) everyone understands how to use and the one that can point your community to other platforms and key brand targets (ie: website).

It is often the first point of contact between your business and your customer (even before your website) and a tool that should be used to connect with your customer and bring them into you community.

Twitter is a digital platform that allows your brand to connect with businesses, brands and people as never before. In 140 characters, your business opens to door to communicate with the ‘outside’ and connect with them in an unobtrusive and often unique manner.

Your twitter presence should be one the offers insight into your business, and thought behind what you do. For the fashion industry, it is a great tool to get to many, very very quickly.

Instagram is an image-based daily blog for your business. It functions by people and business, uploading images from their lives and adding a filter to the image to make is look ‘retro’.

social-media-advertising-platformsFor fashion brands, this platform is great to connect with the customer by offering them a ‘behind the velvet rope’ insight into your business. This includes images of behind the scenes, inside the office, sneak peeks of ranges and general personality of the brand.

As to ‘what sort of content should be on each platform’, this must be linked to your strategy. There is no one answer, or a right or wrong until you know what you are trying to achieve and how you are strategically going to do it.

There has always been a lot of focus on how many facebook likes or twitter followers you have, but do they really ‘like’ you? How do you know your customers/fans are actually engaging with you and reading your content?

The only way to know what is working and what your community likes and wants, is to monitor every platform you are on (and not on).

My business monitors our client accounts 24 hours a day. We look at what comments are being made and respond to them, we see what posts and content gets the greatest result, we look at international trends and competition research to see what is getting high traction and achieving the desired results.

We then go back to our client strategy, and update this to ensure that the community is ‘liking’ what they are seeing and will continue to engage with the brand on a higher level.

The only way to know what fans and followers mean to you brand is to monitor them, analyze them and then implement your findings (and repeat weekly).

It’s a full time job to ensure that the strategy you have developed is achieving your business objectives by providing information to your audience in a manner that they will respond to and continue to come back to your brand again and again.

Hopefully, you will enjoy seeing how it all works at Fashion Exposed this year.  We look forward to seeing you.

BOOK NOW  for DIGITAL EXPOSED: Social Media 101

This practical seminar will demystify social media and to help you understand the full capabilities of each channel. Join Elana Harari from The Digital Aviary and learn how to develop a social media strategy, what to consider before setting up accounts, what content to share, how to build a fan base, and other practical take-aways. 

For more information or to book this FREE seminar, visit australianshoefair.com

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