By Howard Scott, Digital Marketing Director At Sequence Digital

Targeting customers through social media has become more and more prolific over recent years, and household brands through to much smaller start-up companies are using tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and YouTube to successfully target their customers.

However, it is vital that when selecting the social media tools you intend to use to target your audience, you are selected the correct ones. For example, Twitter, Facebook and Linked-in users all have very different demographic profiles, so there is no point using a tool like Facebook to reach a target audience of professionals aged 40+, when statistics show that around over 80% of UK Facebook users are under 40*.

Once you've decided which social media tool or tools you are going to use to get your message across, decide how you're going to approach it carefully. What are you saying and to whom?

There have been numerous examples of major brands attempting to conduct social media campaigns or stunts, which have badly backfired and resulted in a consumer backlash, and ridicule aplenty.

No brand can afford that kind of damage, no matter how large or small.

Always have the consumer at the centre of any social media activity, and think as they would. Innovation for the sake of innovation, i.e. using social media marketing in order to be an early innovator, impresses no-one but your peers.

Add value for your consumer, and always think of how they will gain from your activity. For example, a Facebook page which offers discounts and information about your product or service is innovative and helpful, and is likely to increase brand awareness virally.

Be different and do try to make sure that your social media campaign is one that will get people talking,, and one they will remember. No matter how simple.

And last, but by no means least, encourage your consumers to engage with you through social media activity. Simply talking at them by posting regular updates and messages to whichever platform you use, sends out the wrong message entirely.

If you can actively encourage consumers to get involved in these campaigns, for example by posting suggestions for new products ideas as part of a competition, they will feel that they have some ownership of the brand, and this is vital.

Social media is all about engagement and interaction, and is not a passive process, so if you are going to embrace it, ensure you do it correctly.

Consumers engaging with each other through social media and sharing brand opinion has a favourable reaction, not only because these consumers feel they have ownership of the process, but also because they are more likely to relate to others' opinions about the brand as they seem more 'real' than direct marketing messages.

Social media is a valuable marketing tool and addition to the marketing mix if used correctly, and don't forget that many mobile phones today have powerful interactivity and will be linked to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in etc. Take advantage of this trend by developing a downloadable application, which can be done a relatively low budget and connects you directly with your consumer. Just remember that an app needs to add value for your consumer, including useful information and updates which will make life easier and cement their relationship with your brand.

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