Integrated marketing was a little slow getting off the ground, but it has taken off and flown in the last few years. In short, integrated marketing is the practice of unifying your marketing message across all of your channels. The idea is that no matter where your customers are interacting with your brand, they’re seeing the same imagery, the same voice, the same differentiators, and the same campaigns.
One of the kings of the integrated marketing game is Southwest Airlines. Think about what Southwest’s message is: Transfarency. Sure, it’s a made-up word, but it’s a made-up word that they own, repeat, and print on every surface. Whether it’s a magazine ad, a website banner, or the napkin under your cup of ginger ale when you’re already on the plane, Southwest’s message is consistent. That’s the goal.
Social media is one of the most useful tools in your toolbox for putting out a consistent message into the world. Potential customers have to interact with your brand about half a dozen times before they make the final decision to purchase, and several of those touchpoints will be on social media.
Social media is where they see recommendations from your existing customers. It’s where they see paid ads. It’s where they see articles mentioning you or published by you. The fact is that people in the 21st century spend a good amount of their day on social media, so you need to be there too. Here’s how to do it.
Consistent Branding is Everything
Part of the reason that integrated marketing is so effective is that it’s consistent — you don’t know which of your channels your potential customers will interact with, and you don’t know in what order they’ll see them. With integrated marketing, you don’t have to. No matter where your message is seen, it will convey the same ideas.
That’s not as easy as simply using the same profile picture on every social network — it’s about the personality that your brand puts forward. First, you’ll need to decide what you’re trying to tell the world. Talk internally about what makes you unique, what offerings you want to focus on, and the kind of problems you’re trying to solve. If everyone is working from the same foundation, it’ll help create a united front.
Next, you have to decide how you’re going to put your message out there. Imagine two competitors: Mercedes and Jaguar. Both are targeting the same group — people who have $100,000 to spend on a luxury sedan — but they do it in very different ways. Mercedes talks about engineering, stately elegance, and quiet restraint. Jaguar is bold, brash, brightly colored, and disruptive. Your tone when you talk about your product will depend who you’re talking to and how you want to come off, but it has to be consistent.
Finally, there’s the visual element. Your logos, colors, fonts, and photos should be the same across every channel you use so that your customers recognize you instantly.
Choose Your Channels Wisely
The next step is to make sure you’re in the right place — and the right place isn’t necessarily every channel you can think of. Instagram and Pinterest aren’t going to do you much good if your brand doesn’t have a visual component, for example.
You’ll also want to consider where your customers are. The demographics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and so on are not the same, though they do overlap a little. There’s no reason to dedicate any energy to a channel if your customers aren’t going to see it.
Finally, consider your resources. On Facebook, you can get away with posting a few times a week and answering community questions and messages about once a day. On Twitter, you need to post several times a day and answer questions within a few hours. The demands of different social networks are different, so make sure you don’t start an account on a channel unless you can do it right.
Recycle Your Content
The best way to make sure that your content looks the same on all channels? Use the same content! No, we don’t mean exactly the same thing, but a lot of your content can be repurposed to fit different channels. A long video that lives on your website can be turned into a short animation or a collection of bite-size clips for Facebook and Instagram. An infographic can be turned into an animation. A long whitepaper can be broken into smaller blog posts. Get creative with the content you have to maximize its reach.
Track and Test Everything
There’s no reason that you need to pick one approach and stick with it. Most social media networks allow A/B testing — showing half of your audience one version of a post and the other half another version and seeing which one is more popular. Once you find a good version of a post, tweak it a little and test it again. Track the data from all the tests you run and your marketing will be humming along in no time.
Remember, there’s no perfect solution. Every brand has a slightly different product, audience, customer base, and goals. So get out there, start testing, and find the plan that’s right for you!