8 Jan 2018

Traditional media channels can develop lasting relationships that deliver on investment and brand trust – many messages simply cannot be conveyed in 280 characters or in a slick-looking infographic. However, as the internet grows and establishes its own business highway, building an online presence through various channels can offer further rewards and ROI – declining readership of newspapers is challenging us all to adapt to keep in touch with our key audiences. With near-full internet access and smartphone ownership across Ireland, the stance of companies to not ‘do social media’ is becoming increasingly untenable. Irish businesses are blossoming into this space – last year, 62% of Irish SMEs had a presence on social media according to IEDR.

Indeed, this investment in maintaining a social media platform is now almost a necessity for any business looking to thrive. With 22% of Irish people spending between one to three hours on social media every day there really is no excuse for not investing in having a thriving social media presence. It’s not simply about just being on social media though, it’s being where your target market is and sharing content that resonates – it’s smart engagement.

What’s trending?

The smartphone has changed how we work, how we play and how we relax. Greater accessibility to the internet has enabled greater connection to consumers and customers and increasing opportunities for your message to reach your audience.

Understanding the online social landscape isn’t as daunting as it would seem, just as any other stakeholder audit will show, knowing your audience is crucial to staying relevant to your customer. Recent statistics on social media released by Ipsos MRBI are revealing: Facebook commands 64% of Ireland’s social network account owners with Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram at 28%, 27% and 27% respectively. Knowing the trends of where people network, building a relationship with your audience has never been as easy.

And businesses are beginning to accommodate these new consumer habits. Earlier this month, the headline “The Future of Banking is in the Palm of Your Hand” featured on Forbes, highlighting the power of social media for online payments, tapping into the developments in FinTech and the rise in social media facilitated payments. As more people turn to convenient, mobile technologies to conduct and manage various aspects of their lives and transactions, so too it is important to be present where people spend more and more of their time – on social platforms.

Setting a Game Plan

For companies who haven’t invested in their presence online, starting from scratch can seem daunting. However, with some forethought and planning, building a social media presence to communicate your company’s message can be straightforward and easy.

Take the time to know the regulations in your field and ensure all levels of your company are abreast of your policies for offline and online communications. Provision for time to engage with social media – a common mistake is to create a company account but fail to be responsive to the direct engagement with customers it allows. Once you have the logistics cared for, the next stage is to develop a digital strategy.

Content, Consistency, Authenticity

Know your audience and what they do online, and then define your social media strategy, including your goals, key content themes, content and escalation plan. The three principles for a good digital strategy are Content, Consistency and Authenticity and should underpin everything you do online. When creating content for social media, think of the platform, your audience and the objective of each post. Social media allows you to engage directly with your audience so what do you want to tell them? Do you want them to respond to your post or visit your website? Twitter, for example, allows just 280 characters per post. Can you clearly convey your company message in a pithy statement? Continue to ask yourself questions on the purpose of each post and be strategic in what you share.

Consistency is another tenet of an effective digital strategy. What tone and message are you projecting? Ensure each post and campaign reflects this. If you decide to establish your company on multiple platforms, ensure branding is the same across each platform.

And finally, be true to your company and your brand. Social media is a powerful vehicle for brands and companies. Being present online is another forum for engagement. Whether you want to share a company milestone, connect with up-and-coming graduates, or market your new product through social media, understanding your audience, your own objectives and your company message will ensure that you are staying true to the company brand.

Using the tools available to you and understanding your customers will allow you to develop and push your brand into more avenues for consumption and exposure. Here at Hanover we work with companies across FS, Healthcare, Education and Tech advising on the full suite of communications strategy, including Digital Strategy. As well as looking to established channels for communications, let 2018 be the year your digital strategy is launched and consolidated.