Six ways to use social media marketing to gain competitive advantage

By: Chris Street

Date: 17 August 2011

There’s been much said for – and against – social media marketing as a way to gain competitive advantage in recent months.

On the one hand, the cynics and traditional marketers are rebuking the multitude of evidence being presented online, highlighting how effectively social media marketing can deliver new clients.

Many businesses focus on what their direct competitors are doing on social media platforms. I think this is pointless. The main focus needs to be the value they are giving to their audience. An audience that is engaged, commenting and sharing.

This, in effect, becomes the most powerful sales tool on the Planet for your business – via genuine social media engagement. And it can lead – over time – to a business dominating its niche online. It’s social media marketing in its purest form. But how to do it?

My top six tips on how to use social media marketing for competitive advantage are:

  1. Be genuine: Ignore your direct competitors and move your social media conversations forward in a way that clearly highlights the unique benefits of working with your business. Your competitors are not your concern – your audience is.
  2. Be honest: Clients love honesty. It gives them further confirmation of why they are doing business with you and not a competitor. If you focus on honesty, and highlight this via social media engagement, more clients will come your way.
  3. Be open: Too many agencies and social media bods are closed. I always find something useful and interesting from my client meetings, because they are also open and interested in social media marketing. This openness can deliver competitive wins.
  4. Be lateral, not literal: At a time when many are taking themselves too seriously on social media, remember this – your lateral way of thinking, creating, delivering and presenting your solutions will open doors for you. Step away from the herd.
  5. Be interested: Taking an interest in others on social media platforms is the first step in the “know me, like me, trust me, do business with me” business model. If you’re interested in others, you may well find these examples turning into client wins.
  6. Be brave: Don’t be afraid to be genuine, brave, and true to yourself on social media platforms. I’ve had a few battles online before, and I’ll probably have a few more, too. Maintain your purpose and passion amidst the challenge of less able folk.

Bonus tip: Do the unexpected – like this extra tip. There are enough boring, mundane, anodyne, sterile, formulaic conversations happening already on social media platforms in the name of business. Make your social media marketing different.

Chris Street is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and is the founder of Bristol Editor.

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