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Nothing changes as fast as social media. Think of Twitter, which is now suddenly called X. Or Threads, which in July this year was one of the fastest-growing social networks ever. This makes it difficult for companies to identify the target groups relevant to them, let alone to put in place an effective online marketing strategy. Our online marketing specialist Patrick Oeij explains how to go about it.

Many companies struggle to achieve good results with their online strategy. Should they advertise more, optimise their website or tap into other social channels? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Furthermore, there are countless methods and channels to achieve the desired goal. The big challenge lies in finding the right mix. As far as I am concerned, everything starts with the question: what exactly do you want to achieve? And then you have to look for your target groups and shape your strategy based on their information needs. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done

Avoid inside-out thinking
Where most companies go wrong is by thinking inside-out. They think mainly from the perspective of their own brand, the great product they sell and how to maximise awareness of that. That is their first mistake: because potential customers are not necessarily looking for your company or product. They are looking for a solution to a problem, they want to innovate, work more efficiently, you name it. So you will have to start thinking differently, namely from the perspective of your target groups. What do they need and how can you, as a brand, help them do that?

Mapping social networks
The next challenge is which social networks you use as an organisation. Here, too, you need to make choices. There is no point in creating accounts on every possible network without a clear strategy behind it. You first need to find out which channels your target groups are on. Is it a C-level target group that is primarily found on LinkedIn? Are they perhaps managers who are active on Facebook and Instagram for both work and private purposes? Or are they open source developers who are mainly active on Mastodon or Reddit? With the standard advertising tools of social networks like LinkedIn, X/Twitter and Facebook, you can get a pretty good idea of your potential target groups. There are also specialised online services like Sparktoro that allow you to do so platform-independently.

Content versus advertising
Once you know where your target groups are, you can start determining whether you want to focus mainly on sharing content and interacting with your target audience, or whether you want to advertise, or a mix of both. Again, this depends on your goals, and of course your budget. LinkedIn, for example, is a very powerful platform for reaching business audiences, but it is unfortunately also quite expensive. Facebook is more affordable in that respect, and has the added advantage that you can also advertise on other Meta-services like Instagram (and later perhaps Threads). Twitter also used to be very popular for advertisers, but since Elon Musk took over the company and christened it X, advertisers (and many users of the platform) have quit en masse. Apart from the platform and the chosen strategy, creativity and in-depth knowledge of your target audience is crucial, both for organic content sharing and ads. Only then can you find the right connection with your target audience.

Where will it go?
It is hard to say whether a new platform like Threads is going to be ‘the next best thing’ for online marketing. Also unclear is the future of X, which Musk says is slowly being transformed into ‘the everything app’. According to him, X should become a kind of Western counterpart to China’s WeChat, a social network and chat app that can also be used to send money to others, shop, take out loans, pay bills, order taxis and much more. So potentially, both Threads and X are interesting for the future, but for now, I would advise most businesses to go for LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.
Ultimately, online marketing is not something you just do on the side. At least not if you want to get concrete results from it. It requires a very targeted focus on your target audience, a well thought-out strategy and, above all, an approach that matches your specific business objectives. Do you have any questions about this? Send me a message with your question, and I will try to answer it as best I can and perhaps even adress it in a subsequent article.