Social Media Strategy 101: Know Your Brand, Know Your Audience

07/09/2015 01:15 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2016

If your company has yet to be active on social media it's about time to get out from under your rock and make some changes. The number of platforms offered today to help increase your company's visibility and sales has dramatically increased. If your company has decided to join the ranks across social media, you'd better be sure you have a strategic plan. While some platforms may be more relevant to your business than others, don't rule out any until you have thoroughly devised a strategy for whom you wish to market to. A common struggle both small and large companies face is not being able to correctly identify the specific uses and audiences for the various social media platforms.

The issue that arises time and time again is truly knowing how you want to represent your brand and who to identify as your target audience. Take a look at what social media strategist, Matthew Moroni from global communications agency Digitas LBI had to say on how both small and large companies can improve their social media strategy:

1. What is the most common mistake you see larger companies make on Social Media?

I've often seen companies/brands using social platforms as a dumping ground for content they've published on other communication channels, often word for word. Doing so shows a lack of strategy and clear objectives for the respective channel.
A press release might be suited for a brand's .com page, but it doesn't't mean that it will resonate with their audience on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. A 140-character post written for Twitter may engage a brand's fans, but that same post should not be copy/pasted to all owned channels. For example, depending on the brand's audience, a post on Facebook might be better suited to increase product awareness while one focused on business-to-business networking could be better executed on LinkedIn.
Brands who conduct the proper research to understand how their target audience acts on social media will see the benefits. They'll learn what their current and prospective customers expect from brands, how they seek out information and even how they purchase. Time and money are easily overlooked when it comes to executing a strategy on social media, but doing so can certainly be worth the effort.

2. What is the most common mistake you see small companies make on Social Media?
Small companies often lack a solid purpose on social media, and a scattered presence usually follows. Who are they on social media? How do they communicate their brand? What do they hope to achieve? Is it awareness, increased product knowledge, purchase consideration? A scattered, inconsistent presence could give off a false perception of the brand, and a mixed understanding of what the brand sells or offers.

3. What is a common misperception people have about the different uses for Social Media channels?
It seems that people and brands can fall into a trap, thinking that by simply publishing some form of content to social channels, it's going to generate engagement. Better yet, throw on a few hashtags and watch it 'go viral.' The opposite is often true -- these random posts might garner a few likes here and there from spammy ghost accounts, but are they really driving brand value? Are they meeting a set objective of increasing awareness, expressing brand intent or driving brand image? Likely not.
Brand success on social media requires, amongst other factors, a set strategy, a defined purpose, and dedicated resources. Without them, your 140-character Tweets and "Like this if..." Facebooks posts will drift into the news feed abyss. Stand out from the feed and give your audiences something worth liking, sharing, and commenting on. Provide them value and see what happens!

4. Is there one specific Social Media platform you recommend to increase your company's visibility?
Ultimately, this depends on who you are as a brand, what you communicate, what you sell or what type of service you offer. No social media platform, whether the current 'buzz' or not (Meerkat and Periscope, anyone?), will work magic for your company's visibility unless you understand how the platform works, what its users like, what they don't, and what they want to see (or not) from brands on social media.
If you're looking to announce your brand for the first time, or even to revamp your presence, social media advertisements can be quite effective as long as you're not spamming your audience. For example, brands can create advertisements that are triggered when users express a need, use a particular phrase, or live in a specific area. In doing so, brands can communicate their brand, the value they provide, and hopefully, gain a new fan. Note: there's a fine line between helpful and annoying. Don't waste your money on impressions if it's going to tarnish your brand image in the process.

As one can see, there are several factors that should be put into consideration when devising a social media strategy. If you use social media correctly, you can build a powerful connection with potential customers and further learn how to not only engage with your audience but enhance your brand's image. Why stall your social media marketing efforts any further? Get the ball rolling!