Being present on social networks is not enough – you need to create an audience and generate traffic.
The emergence of the internet and social networks has marked the end of traditional marketing, which companies and brands previously used to approach consumers vertically. Consumers are now in the habit of finding out about products and companies themselves and are increasingly referring to the reviews of other internet users.
Companies wishing to take advantage of this new trend need to put themselves in consumers’ shoes now more than ever. What is the target market? What information is likely to be of interest to that market? What are people saying about us on the internet and social networks? These are just some of the questions which any company operating online needs to ask.
Offer high-quality information
Whether your company communicates on its official website, on a blog, on social networks or by podcasts or videos, the important factor is to offer relevant information which is of interest to a maximum number of visitors, which can be reposted on social networks, blogs, specialist websites and even by the media, and which can therefore generate traffic. The more relevant the information you post, the more likely it is to be liked or retweeted--in short, re-posted.
The best way to establish credibility with the public is to give them information which has value and which is transparent. If you manufacture stainless steel saucepans, write an article (or produce a podcast, video, etc.) that explains the advantages and disadvantages of this material. Comparisons between products, provided they are genuine, often work very well.
Answer questions from web users
At any one time, millions of web users are searching for answers to practical questions. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and help them make their choice by offering them as much information as possible. In this way, you will pick up a share of the traffic generated by questions from the public, who will be grateful that you have taken the time to answer them. It is better that they find this information on your website or blog than on the websites or blogs of the competition.
- Think about problems. Web users are not only looking for answers to help them make a purchase decision; they are often also looking for solutions to problems. A good way of finding out what the public is concerned about is to enter keywords into search engines, such as “problem”, “how do I” or “why”, followed by a term relating to the sector of interest.
- Stick to the public's searches as closely as possible. Your main website or your blog must necessarily contain statistical tools for analyzing the number of visitors as well as where they come from.
- Talk about money. Product price is an essential piece of information for any potential consumer. Indicate the price of your services or products, even if these are estimates.
- Use the news. News can be an excellent opportunity for increasing your traffic. Keep an eye on what is going on in the world and anything relating to your sector of business and write about or share this information.
- Think global. If your products are aimed at an audience outside the region where your language is spoken, think about having your website translated and providing as much information as possible in the language of your potential customers or partners. Ask professional translators to handle this work.
- Publish a newsletter. A newsletter is an online message sent automatically to a list of e-mail addresses (subscribers). It can be produced on a one-off basis to keep recipients informed about important events, or it can be distributed on a regular basis, and containing links to the latest posts on a blog, website, etc.
- Stand out from the competition. Do not just copy your competitors. Try to anticipate the market by offering new, unusual information. Vary the format and avoid overly learned or top-down styles.
Create an element of surprise
Companies that make the most of the opportunities presented by the internet and social media are those that manage to create an element of surprise which can turn into a buzz. This is the trickiest part of marketing on the internet, but also the most effective. While there is no absolute formula for creating a buzz, a few basic principles do apply.
- Generate emotion. The information most likely to be massively reposted is information that triggers emotions in the recipients.
- Involve the public. Whether you use contests, interactive videos or other methods, try to involve web users in your marketing. If your company produces consumer goods (food, furniture, etc.), you might, for example, organize a design contest for your next product.
- Be responsive and consistent. If you are planning a massive operation to generate a buzz, systematically include all of your online tools. Create a launch video, a Facebook event, tweet about the operation, etc. Be very responsive.
- Maintain some mystery. Arouse the curiosity of the public and media by generating an element of mystery, either by announcing the date on which you will release unusual information, by an ambiguous press release, a countdown, etc. But be careful: the surprise should be equal to the attention generated.
Sources: Réseaux Sociaux et Entreprise: Les Bonnes Pratiques, Christine Balagué and David Fayon, Pearson, 2011; Le Marketing en Ligne, Jon Reed and Christine Balagué, Pearson, 2011.