New companies emerging in any industry today knows that they need a social media strategy. But what about established industry leaders that have been able to coast on long-standing brand recognition? These companies have been realizing over the last five years or so that their customers not only prefer to be communicated with via social media, but expect it.

Word of mouth has always been one of the strongest, most effective tactics for marketers, and that mouthpiece has now become digital. This has spurred a noticeable investment in more complex social marketing strategies for larger companies. In fact, a recent report from Elizabeth Shaw, Research Director at Gartner for Marketers looked at use cases from Toyota and IBM and how they utilized social marketing for market expansion.

Toyota’s use case focused on their launch of the Prius in the Australian market in 2016. As a result of the company’s purchase of a variety of targeted social ads, Toyota reported that the campaign reached 7.6 million people (about 69 percent of which were their target audience) and resulted in a 13 point increase in ad awareness as well as a 41 percent increase in Prius test drives.

Shaw’s recommendation based on the details of this use case read, “Clearly define which stage of the buying journey your campaign will affect and define the four key factors of a strong social marketing campaign: A target audience, the social networks on which to engage that audience, the actions that audience should take to drive business outcomes, and how to measure success.”

With regards to IBM’s use case, the company was focused on boosting internal advocacy and utilizing their own team to drive social media traction. They did so through the creation of an internal online hub that easily generated about six pieces of shareable content a day for IBM employees to share across their personal networks. With about 1000 employees participating, this social marketing tactic was able to drive 120 million digital impressions and 141,000 clicks directly to campaign content.

This use case was a perfect example of using a knowledgeable, engaged community that’s already in place to drive results. Who would be bigger advocates for a company than its employees? Company success, digital or otherwise, behooves them.

“Start with a pilot phase and invite a subset of employees to participate,” stated Shaw, regarding IBM’s use case. “Encourage feedback regarding what works and what doesn’t via online surveys or a dedicated point of contact.”

It appears that you can teach an old dog new tricks, or at least teach older companies how to really harness the power of new communication channels.

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