Gone are the days where social media was strictly for teenagers, MySpace, and sharing videos of cats (although the latter is still great and very important). Social media is now a global platform for pretty much anything, from sharing opinions and articles to finding employment and starting crowdfunders.
Using social media can shape your brand image, develop brand awareness, and build on your relationship with existing customers whilst attracting new ones. A platform for communicating with your target market, there’s a high chance the people you’re looking to attract are already on social media. In 2016, it was estimated that there are more than 2.3 billion active social media users per month, which is an incredible 1/3 of the world population. Social media gives you the opportunity to tap into markets that would be otherwise inaccessible with traditional media.
Content over Adverts
No one moves faster than someone hitting the ‘Skip Ad’ button on YouTube videos. People don’t like adverts – and with soaring numbers of people using AdBlock technology, watching Netflix, and recording TV programmes - enabling them to fast forward through the adverts, audiences need to be targeted so subtlety that they don’t even realise they’re being marketed to. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provide the perfect arena to establish a following by providing regular, engaging copy and attractive, visual content.
Social media plans are now an essential (if not the most important) element of any successful marketing strategy. With more than 95% of marketers harnessing the benefits of social media, establishing an online presence is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase brand recognition and awareness. The chances of reaching prospective customers via social media platforms are way higher than other advertising and marketing methods, as the benefits of social platforms are that you can market to a specific target audience who are way more likely to not only engage with your content, but to purchase what you’re selling.
Humanising Your Brand
‘Humanising’ your brand, giving your brand a voice and a personality, helps to establish a level of trust between you and the consumer. Being open and transparent is key in developing a relatable persona that people can believe in, as audiences respond better to companies that don’t appear to be another faceless corporation. If consumers see you as remote and unreachable, it makes it hard for them to trust both your brand and your products. Why would a faceless, robotic business care about the customer? One of the best ways to dissolve this façade is through social media.
Asserting yourself as a brand that is approachable, relatable, and reachable can be achieved through developing an online presence that is the perfect balance between personality and professionalism. It’s not the company that has a face, it’s the people that represent it, so regularly posting content about your team – sharing their stories, birthdays, what they’ve been up to etc., not only shows that you care about your team, but that there are genuine, relatable humans behind the brand.
The laid-back structure of social media allows you to relax a bit in terms of how you present yourself. Speak like an actual person, use emoji’s or slang if it fits with your brand personality. Be complex, have depth, and don’t be afraid to show emotion. When you’re creating your strategy think of your company as a character, what they like and don’t like, how they communicate, their hobbies and interests, their sense of humour. This makes it easy to reference back to when you’re creating content or communicating with customers, as if you have a specific character in mind then it’s easier to craft realistic responses that flow naturally with your brand persona.
Standing out is what will give you your personality, so it’s beneficial to take a side and have an opinion on current affairs now and again. Whether it be popular culture or politics, anything you put out there has the potential to offend or cause controversy, (especially if it’s political, so you may want to be careful with this one) however, participating in this calibre of online conversation adds to your personality. Personality simultaneously sets us apart whilst making us similar.
Authenticity is Key
Social media can catapult you into the same league as bigger and more established businesses. Creating an online presence can give you great competitive advantage as it allows you to be a ‘fly on the wall’ of what your audience thinks about both yours and your competitors’ services. Keeping on top of what’s trending and joining the conversation can further your presence, so it’s important to live in the moment as much as possible. Scheduling tools can be great to post promotional fodder when you’re busy, however, too much, no matter how well thought out, can make your brand lose its authenticity.
Images and videos are better for catching people’s attention, even better when they have an emotional appeal. Inspiring your consumers’ emotions can trigger a response within them that subconsciously creates a closeness with your brand. It has been scientifically proven that we make all of our decisions using our emotions over our rationality, and consumers who follow brands on social media naturally feel more connected to them. Don’t overdo it though, if all your content is blatantly trying to evoke emotion, you’ll look false.
Transparency is key with the content you’re putting on social media, if customers think you are being dishonest or exaggerating anything, you’ll very quickly lose trust and your reputation will be hard to rebuild without a very open and embarrassing apology – especially if you’re a small brand without a safety net of millions of loyal brand users to fall back on.
Social media can transform even the smallest brands into the biggest through an organic following, which means that small start-ups with little to no marketing budgets can still achieve an impressive growth, all you need to know is how to engage your audience and have a degree of creativity. Whatever you do don’t be background noise, it’s important to keep track of what your competitors are doing so that you can see what’s working or to jump onto new trends, however, you need to be original too. Offer useful, interesting information, great visuals, and punchy content. Static, uninspired posts will go totally unnoticed and blend into the background.
The free exposure that begins to develop once you have a following is invaluable. People will tag you, share you, geotag your location, and show friends. It can disappoint people if they see a product/service online and the company hasn’t been tagged or has no social media at all. A quick browse of your Instagram gives them an idea of what your company is and what your brand is about.
Importance of Feedback
Having your team personally respond to comments, even if it’s just a ‘thank you’ here and there with the person’s name, shows that you appreciate everyone’s feedback and that every customer counts. Keeping on top of your feedback is a great way to go about your reputation management – staying active and responding regularly to customers shows not only that you’re available, but that you care about your audience. Responding quickly and positively will increase the likelihood of them recommending you to someone else.
Social media is an amazing tool to stay connected to your audience and gives you the opportunity to adjust quickly and accordingly to feedback. Sometimes companies get it wrong, even big ones like Snapchat. Snapchat had a huge redesign where they completely changed the user experience, and the feedback was a disaster. The dramatic change of the platform prompted thousands of people to delete their Snapchat apps, and even after being flooded with complaints and demands to revert it back, they didn’t listen. Kylie Jenner singlehandedly wiped a shocking $1.3 billion off Snapchat’s stock market value after tweeting that she didn’t use it anymore, and Snapchat continues to lose thousands of daily users as it refused to adjust to the feedback from those who made it so popular in the first place. Listen to your audience!
Quality over Quantity
It’s important to keep your socials active, however, if you’re bombarding your audience with low-quality posts throughout the day then you’re going to lose followers. People don’t like to feel as if they’re being overwhelmed by a brand, it just feels intrusive, desperate, and ingenuine. If you want to put a lot of content out then make sure it’s evenly spaced out (Hootsuite can schedule this for you) and unique, interesting, or emotive.
User-generated content is great for building up customer trust and increasing your site engagement. Encourage your followers to tag you in their posts or send you content of them using your products or services. Using UGC on your page not only shows how much real customers enjoy your brand, but shows that you genuinely care about them and their reviews too. Social media is an incredible tool for showing you have a human side and that there are real people behind the face of the company, so don’t be afraid to have fun with it!