Social media is a great opportunity for your organization to connect directly with its core audience, but what platforms should you use? With a growing list of social media applications at your fingertips, focusing your brand’s efforts can be challenging. So where should you start and what questions should you clarify before selecting social media platforms for your organization? We asked Project Bionic, one of Seattle’s leading social media firms, to give us insights into the strategic goals and questions that shape how clients actualize their social media plans.

Is your brick and mortar retail brand looking to drive more in-store traffic?

We recommend using Facebook and Instagram. As you may know, Facebook owns Instagram and over the past year has expanded IG’s ad capabilities to drive commerce both online and offline. The results have been solid (especially when compared to other forms of media). However, just posting your services or products isn't enough. You need to find a reason or incentive to get people's attention.

Do you own a brick and mortar business that needs to drive traffic at certain times of day?

There is another cool ad type that Facebook recently created called Local Awareness. This ad allows you to set up a geofence around your business. When a user that fits your target customer specifics enters this geo-fenced area, an ad is served to them inviting them to visit. The action from these ads allows the user to click to get directions, which then opens their native mapping app to begin their journey to your location. If your target is teens, then you could also consider building a Snapchat filter and geo-fencing this around your location. When a Snapchat user is in this geo-fenced area, the filter will pop-up, driving awareness of your business and essentially inviting them in.

Are you hoping to increase sales for your unique product through an eCommerce website?

Social media has proven to be a huge boon for online sales. However, your social choices for e-commerce are far more numerous than brick and mortar. You have Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter. It all depends on your audience. The key is understanding your target customer and then researching if they are on a particular platform. For example, Pinterest continues to engage women - especially in the fashion, beauty, and home design spaces - yet men have been slow to join the Pinterest party. As with all marketing, knowing your target audience is key.

Is your nonprofit looking to boost fundraising efforts?

Storytelling is critical in nonprofit fundraising and social media. Facebook, specifically, lends itself to this form of marketing especially well. Sadly, most nonprofits only post when they are asking for money. This can grind on the audience and make them wonder what happened the last time they donated. Creating a clear plan that allows an extended period of storytelling - what the organization has done over the last 12 months, how you have stewarded donations, and big breakthroughs – will grab the audience’s attention and shine a light on what their donations meant to the world. Or, if they’re new to the nonprofit, it will provide them a clear blueprint towards donating. Now, once you go into the ask, the audience is more apt to donate again and potentially even donate more. As an aside, one critical and often overlooked part of a non-profit’s social success is ensuring that their giving page is mobile-friendly.

Looking to raise money through a crowdfunding campaign?

The most common mistake crowdfunding campaigns make is the belief that they will set up their campaign and people will flock to it. This isn't the "field of dreams." You need to build up a community of support before the launch. This can be on any social network of your choosing. However, remember that sites like Instagram do not allow you to send the community clickable links, so they will have to work to support you. As you build your community look at engagement rates and ensure that, as you get close to the launch, the crowdfunding campaign’s engagement levels are building. Once you launch, you’ll also need other content to keep levels high — don't just post messages and stories asking people to give.

Do you hold an event and are trying to drive attendance and/or ticket sales?

Having worked with events all over the country for the last 7 years, we have a tremendous amount of experience in this arena. The Facebook Ad Center will allow you to target users in a geographical area around your event who have an interest in your event. Organizing a kite festival? Facebook shows that there are more than 500,000 people in the US with an interest in kites. When promoting your event, think about narrowcasting versus broadcasting, especially when it comes to niche events. A smaller target audience is fine if you have the interests of that audience matched to your event.

Are you a B2B brand that has written social media off as only a B2C thing?

Don't! Also, don't feel siloed to only LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is a requirement for all B2B brands, you can often leverage other social platforms to drive your B2B sales goals. We've had clients whose client lists matched at a higher rate on Facebook than LinkedIn. As the attitude toward social has changed in corporate management, the usage of social media has become a normal practice even at work. By combining the powers of both LinkedIn and Facebook, you can quickly empower your sales staff with new ways of attracting and close clients.

Do you have a Yelp or other online review problem?

If the reviews are accurate, well, it might be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are cut out for this. However, if you have garnered these bad reviews and want to correct them, asking your social media community for help can be powerful. However, don't just ask them to go leave you reviews - be creative with how you ask. We've found that posting links to great client reviews on your social profiles can often drive additional positive reviews. Be thoughtful in how you do this and the results can quickly turn around a poor online reputation. Last but not least, get reputation monitoring services setup ASAP. Knowing what is being said about you is almost as important as understanding how your business operates.

Editor's Note

Project Bionic uses data and metrics to guide their platform recommendations for clients. Facebook remains the unrivaled leader in the United States and neither of us are being paid to say so.

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