Social media marketing has enormous potential when it comes to your return on investment (ROI). It’s affordable (technically free if you go the organic route), scalable, and can be utilized by almost any business. There’s just one problem; more and more companies are realizing this, so the market’s been flooded with competition in almost every industry.
To the entrepreneur or marketer from the outside looking in, wondering how to emerge as a new player or revitalize a stagnant campaign, this idea can be intimidating. With so many other players already capitalizing on your audience, how can you manage to build a positive ROI? The secret is to differentiate yourself. Buy how can you do that?
Step 1. Choose a Niche Audience
Your first job is to focus on a niche audience, and be as specific as possible here. Entering any industry with the intention of targeting “everyone” is going to put you in league with about a thousand other companies who had the same idea. Instead, cater to a very specific demographic, and serve some very specific needs. For example, instead of targeting “marketing professionals,” target owners of small-sized marketing firms. Instead of targeting “taco enthusiasts,” target frugal college students who like tacos.
Step 2. Focus on One Platform
Most companies that adopt a new social media campaign think in broad terms, claiming profiles on every platform and attempting to manage them all at once. There are a few problems with this; the first and most important is that it inherently drives you to produce similar content for every platform, even though each platform has different quirks, advantages, and disadvantages.
This isn’t necessarily the case if you have enough resources to truly invest in each platform, but for most companies, it’s better to choose one niche platform and use that as the center point of your campaign. For example, if most of your content is going to be visual, focus on Instagram, and only use the other platforms as support. It will help you develop more targeted content and rise up as a unique organization.
Step 3. Craft a Unique Brand Voice
Next, you’ll need to create a unique brand voice for yourself. Think about the type of personality you want to exhibit; do you want to be playful, or professional? Do you want to be formal or informal? Do you want to showcase a youthful energy, or the wisdom of age?
These are human qualities that your brand needs to exhibit; simply by exhibiting different qualities than your contemporaries, you’ll help yourself stand out in the field. Just remember that it takes time and consistency for these brand voice standards to establish your identity.
Step 4. Create Content That Nobody Else Is Creating
If you want a differentiated social campaign, you’ll need to create and syndicate content that nobody else is distributing. These are just a few ideas to get you started:
· Original topics. These are hard to come by, but try to find novel topics that nobody else has discovered. Original research works particularly well here.
· New mediums. Here, you can take other bits of information and transform them into something new, like producing an infographic from research you’ve accumulated elsewhere.
· Strong opinions. Take a firm stance on a debatable topic — you’ll stand apart and simultaneously generate more visibility for yourself.
· Depth. Dive deeper into a topic that hasn’t already been tapped. Think more research, more multimedia, and more angles of exploration.
Step 5. Make Your Voice Heard in Your Industry
You’ll also want to establish authority by making your voice heard in the industry. You can do this in several ways, but the most important is to engage with other influencers in your industry, such as corporate or personal brands that have developed a reputation for themselves.
Find conversations that these brands have started, and plug yourself into them, stating your opinions and sparking debate. By playing devil’s advocate and establishing an alternative stance, you’ll differentiate yourself.
Another way to be heard is to branch out through guest posting, which is the process of contributing to external publications to reach a new audience with your content.
Step 6. Tap the Power of Individuals
Don’t forget that “social” media is all about socialization, and no matter how many brands you see rocking their social media strategies, the best approaches still occur on a personal level. There are two ways to take advantage of this. The first is by reaching out to more followers and potential followers on an individual level; acknowledge them when they comment about your brand, answer their questions, or even reach out to them directly for their thoughts on a given topic.
The second is through the use of personal brands, which you can set up as designated representatives of your company, or merely extensions of your corporate brand. Either way, you can use personal brands to share your company’s content, reach out to more people, and have more conversations with influencers. People trust people more than they trust brands, so it’s almost always a valuable move to get more personal brands on your side.
These strategies can, cumulatively, make your social media presence more unique, even in a crowded niche. Some of them require compromises, and some of them will certainly work better for you than others, but if you remain committed to differentiation, eventually you’ll settle on an identity and a pattern that works for you and your audience.