This is the fourth post in a new series in which we explore a variety of essential skills for using digital, social, and visual media. We’ll present the information in ways that you can share directly with your students, and we hope this information will enhance your lectures and class discussions.
The AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) and similar approaches have been successful with marketing and sales messages for decades, but in the social media landscape, consumers are more apt to look for product information from other consumers, not the companies marketing those products. Consequently, your emphasis should shift to encouraging and participating in online conversations. Follow these guidelines:
- Facilitate community building. Give customers and other audiences an opportunity to connect with you and one another, such as on your Facebook page or through members-only online forums.
- Listen at least as much as you talk. Listening is just as essential for online conversations as it is for in-person conversations.
- Initiate and respond to conversations within the community. Through content on your website, blog posts, social network profiles and messages, newsletters, and other tools, make sure you provide the information customers need to evaluate your products and services. Use an objective, conversational style; people in social networks want useful information, not “advertising speak.”
- Provide information people want. This information can include industry-insider news, in-depth technical guides to using your products, answers to questions posted on community Q&A sites, and general advice on product selection and usage. This strategy of content marketing is a great way to build customer relationships by providing value-added information.
- Identify and support your champions. In marketing, champions are enthusiastic fans of your company and its products. Champions are so enthusiastic they help spread your message through their social media accounts and other outlets, defend you against detractors, and help other customers use your products.
- Be real. Social media audiences respond positively to companies that are open and conversational about themselves, their products, and subjects of shared interest. In contrast, if a company is serving its stakeholders poorly with shoddy products, bad customer service, or unethical behavior, an attempt to improve its reputation by adopting social media without fixing the underlying problems is likely to fail as soon as audiences see through the superficial attempt to “be social.”
- Integrate conventional marketing and sales strategies at the right time and in the right places. AIDA and similar approaches are still valid for specific communication tasks, such as conventional advertising and the product promotion pages on your website.
Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 358–359. Social media communication is also addressed in our titles Excellence in Business Communication, Chapter 8, and Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 6.