With a social media engagement strategy, defense contractors can pick the right social media networks and send the right messages on each one to best connect with buyers and influencers.
When I speak to defense contractors, one of the most frequent questions I get is "Which social media networks should we use?"
Because there are numerous and very different social media networks, the short answer is usually something like "it depends," and the long answer is "who are you trying to reach and what reaction do you want them to have?"
Were there just one social media network, it would be a lot easier for defense contractors to use social media. But there is a wide variety of social media networks, and people consume information differently on each one. And they have different expectations for each.
That's why to be effective in social media, defense contractors need to tailor their content for each of the social media platforms.
Developing a social media engagement strategy is a necessity, but one that is sometimes overlooked. When that happens, a type of "content blast" occurs whereby marketers try to push the same content through very different social media channels regardless of how it comes out.
The phenomenon is similar to when Twitter users could autopublish their tweets to LinkedIn. The LinkedIn stream would include incomprehensible tweets and hashtags. It was like watching a foreign film with bad voice dubbing. It didn't really make sense because while the tweets worked on Twitter, they didn't make as much sense on LinkedIn.
For effective social media engagement, defense contractors need to present the right content in the right social media context.
As with so much of smart Internet marketing, social media engagement strategy starts with buyer personas. That's where you develop an archetype of your ideal customer, to include their job descriptions, challenges, aspirations and content consumption habits.
One of the most important aspects of developing a social media engagement strategy to reach your buyer persona is to determine which social media platforms they use. Interviews with your buyer personas are an effective way to learn which social media networks they use. Another research approach is to field a survey and ask.
The point is to find the social media watering holes where your buyer personas congregate rather than expecting them to find you. You want to find the people who you're most interested in and who will be most interested in you. This will help you prioritize the best social media networks on which to focus your marketing efforts.
Once you've found the deepest social media watering holes for your buyer personas, keep in mind that people use their social media networks in different ways.
In a LinkedIn study "The Mindset Divide," it was shown that people gravitate to different social media networks based on what frame of mind they're in. The main divide has to do with either spending time or investing time.
On personal networks like Facebook, people are interesting in connecting on a more personal, informal level. That's where they spend time.
On more professional networks like LinkedIn, however, people are more deliberate, hunting for information that can help them solve problems at work or advance their careers. In that case, they are investing time.
Knowing this helps marketers to match the right types of messages with the appropriate social network. On a more personal network like Facebook, you can be more entertaining or casual. On LinkedIn you can focus more on building their knowledge base.
Each network has its own personality. Here are some considerations for the four biggest:
- LinkedIn - More formal. Great for sharing industry and business-focused content. Keep the conversations focused on work.
- Twitter - Great for building buzz quickly to a lot of people. The content and tone is more informal and requires less of a relationship with the audience to establish a connection. Obviously, however, Twitter is not good for long-form content since you only get 140 characters.
- Google+ - Less active than the others, but great for optimizing for Google search. Also, very important for local search optimization.
- Facebook - Nothing better for putting a human face on a business. The most personal of the big social media networks, Facebook is great for boosting your company's likability. Remember to keep it as visual as possible.