Taking over social media: developing a strategy
Where once a company’s existence was based on a phone book, today most companies have to appear on social media to exist, so to speak. Many companies have commendably included various social media channels as a part of their communication strategy. Social media has become a norm in the company’s online communication and marketing. The starting points for choosing social media channels vary. On the other hand, the companies often do not revise their choices, even though the channel’s user category may have changed significantly in years.
This blog series has two parts: the first part deals with social media strategy and the second part focuses on development and analyses of social media posts. The second blog post will be published in June.
Choosing social media channels
The choice of social media depends entirely on the company, brand, industry, and resources. However, the choice of social media platform of platforms always starts with customers. What kind of customers segments does the customer base consist of? Which social media channels my customers use? How do my clients want to hear about my company?
According to Statistics Finland survey, 88% of Finns have used the Internet in 2018. Compared to Europe, Finns are very active Internet users, as just 76% of people aged 16-74 are active Internet users at the European level. In Finland, almost everyone under 55 years of age uses the Internet, but at the same time, every second person over the age of 75 has never used the Internet. The most common device to use the Internet is mobile phone and the second is a laptop. The use of tablets is less common, however, on average every second Finn owns a tablet.
The most used social media platform is WhatsApp. Facebook comes second, Messenger – third and Instagram – fourth. Figure 1 shows the division of social media channels used by Finns.
Figure 1 Use of social media by Finns
However, before the company chooses the most appropriate social media channels, it is important to check not only the channels’ popularity but also the profiles of the company’s customers. For example, the age range and the gender of customers are major influencing factors when choosing social media channels. Table 2 shows data compiled by Statistics Finland’s on the use of social media services by sex and age.
Developing a social media strategy
Social media strategy is an important part of the company’s brand communication. The company should have a clear vision of social media communication. What kind of information does the company want to communicate about itself, its image, services or products? What is the tone of communication?
The social media strategy is built in six steps:
- Defining customer segments
- Channel selection
- Setting goals
- Creating a sales pipeline
- Investigate the competition
- Develop year clock to support posts
When customer segments are defined and the appropriate social media channels have been selected, it’s time to focus on goals. What does the company want to achieve with social media communication? Upkeeping social media channels always require resources, so it should also have clear goals, such as sales growth, brand development or recruiting new employees. When goal directions are clear, it is important to set concrete goals, for example, the reachability of posts, the number of followers, website traffic from different social media channels or the number of potential customers.
If (and most often when) the goal is to increase sales, a sales pipeline should also be built. How does the customer journey go from the online publication to purchase event? Also, it is important to investigate the competition. By no means should a competitor’s strategy be copied, but the company should follow how competitors handle social media and how your own company’s social media communication can stand out.
Last but not least is developing the year clock to support posts. I will address this issue further in the second part of the blog series, which focuses on the development of social media posts. With the help of social media year clock, you can make your social media communication systematic and in line with the brand. Also, analysis of posts is a part of a year clock: don’t just publish but follow up and analyze publication’s effectiveness.
Case: Lidl’s sneakers
Let’s take a German retail chain Lidl as an example. The retail chain has had a hilarious and humorous approach to communications and marketing. When Lidl started in Finland, it encountered prejudices in certain target groups about the functionality of the concept, from the length of the checkout line to the domestic nature of the products. Lidl faced prejudice by producing a series of five videos that sought to correct misconceptions. The excerpt from the videos was playfully self-ironic, and the videos ended with a male voice statement, “Järki käteen ja ostoksille.”
Lidl’s humoristic approach has continued over the years, and in the spring of 2020, we’ve been able to witness Lidl’s sneaker craze, which started on April Fool’s Day. The in Lidl logo colours, which went on sale in Finland on Thursday, April 23, 2020, were sold out in minutes in the online store. Within the first hour, the sneakers had also been sold out in shops. In the Tori service, there were 80,000 searches related to Lidl’s sneakers on the same afternoon, and these 15-euro sneakers were traded at an average price of 120 euros. Figure 2 shows these hot drop sneakers.
Figure 2 Lidl’s sneakers
Lidl’s sneakers have also heated several social media channels. When it comes to the goal of social media, where every user can act as a communicator, content producer, and recipient of information, Lidl’s campaign is simply fantastic. Lidl’s campaign has received a huge amount of free advertising as consumers dreamed of sneakers, criticized the selling price (both original and second hand) and discussed the limitations of the coronavirus in relation to Lidl’s sneaker rush.
It is worth investing in developing a social media strategy, as it is an important part of a company’s communication and marketing. Developing, maintaining, and putting into practice a strategy requires long-term work, but at its best, it bears fruit to a large extent in acquiring new customers and maintaining old customer relationships.
EntreFox project manager
Turku University of Applied Sciences
Mainonnan eettisen neuvoston lausunto 2/2011 Lidlin tv-mainoksista, 2.5.2011. https://kauppakamari.fi/statement-archive/men-lausunto-22011-lidlin-tv-mainoksista/
Tilastokeskus, 22.11.2017. Väestön tieto-ja viestintätekniikan käyttö 2017. https://www.stat.fi/til/sutivi/2017/13/sutivi_2017_13_2017-11-22_fi.pdf
Yle.fi. 15 euron Lidl-tennarit myytiin loppuun hetkessä – vastuullisuusvaikuttaja: “Hinta viittaa siihen, että niitä on valmistettu todella halvasti”. https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11318805