Your customers are already online – find them and figure out where you can fit in with your online marketing activities
Step 2. Find your customers online
Create a presence where a presence already exists. Don’t expect that your customers will automatically come to you once you create an online presence. Use the tools like the ones below to find your customers and competitors. Once you listen to what’s out there, you can learn where your opportunities are and plan your digital marketing and social media engagement strategy accordingly. Ultimately this will help you build your credibility as an expert and build relationships. When you are an expert and people trust you, you can influence the conversations, opinions and behavior in this space. This is essentially the social engagement strategy I recommend at it’s most basic: Listen – Learn – Engage – Influence. I highly recommend Brian Solis’ book Engage, which solely focuses on engagement (obviously) and follows this general strategic pattern.
What are the top sites and blogs for your industry or subject matter? Follow the RSS feeds and keep up with what’s trending. Use Google Alerts to follow topics of importance, and check Technorati for the top blogs on relevant topics. These are free resources you can use to see what else is out there for your customer. Who is doing it right? Where are the gaps you can fill? Are there companies doing well in this space you can partner with?
For B2B digital marketing, start with LinkedIn Groups and join the groups your customers and competitors would join. This is a topic for a whole other blog, but LinkedIn Groups is the most benecial B2B social medium to get involved with. Groups are a great place to learn what is trending, what people are talking about and where you can contribute to the conversation.
Do your customers use Facebook? I’ll answer that for you – YES! You need to be there engaging with them. Create a business or brand page and create a Facebook places listing (directory listing, particularly for local businesses) for each of your physical locations. Facebook will play an important part in your digital marketing strategy, as the vast majority of Americans are on Facebook today and they do follow and engage with brands and businesses there.
Are they on Twitter? Yes! Find them using tools like Twellow for local tweeps, Klout and Tweet Grader to find out who the influencers are on your subject matter or geographic area, Tweetdeck to follow your relevant hashtags (#keyword). These hashtags will play a role later in developing your digital marketing strategy content grid. You want to be known as a topic expert – so identify the topics and people already trending. It’s also important to know Twitter users are more influential than Facebook users in their social groups when it comes to brands. They are also more likely to follow a brand with an intent to purchase.
Check social bookmarking sites, like StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious and Reddit to follow relevant topic links/bookmarks (and note where you can fit your site/blog/tools into the picture). Follow the relevant influencers to see what moves them.
Find relevant YouTube.com videos and channels. Start to get a sense of where in the process videos make sense for the customers. What types of videos on your relevant topics get the most likes, favorites and comments? YouTube is the top place consumers (even B2B) search for videos, so it should fit into your digital marketing strategy somewhere.
Find mobile apps for your industry or subject matter. What is getting the most downloads and best ratings? What types of information and tools are you customers looking for on the go? Is there an idea that hasn’t been developed you could run with? Is there a popular mobile app that you can get plugged into? Mobile MUST be a part of your digital strategy, as recent estimates put an average of seven mobile devices in the hands of each American by 2020. If nothing else, your site must be optimized for mobile viewing.
The Bottom Line: Don’t expect the Web to revolve around you. Go to your customers where they are, and join the conversation in a polite, useful and genuine way with your digital marketing activities.
Watch for tomorrow’s post on Step 3: Create a content planning grid.