It has never been easier for brands to directly engage with their customers, new and potential alike, than in the age of social media. Just over 50% of the global population uses social media, with the average person holding 8.6 social media accounts in 2020.
At its core, social media connects people to one another. As a marketing tool, social media helps brands connect with and target current and potential customers. Nearly 92% of U.S. marketers in companies with more than 100 employees use social media as part of their marketing strategy, according to Statista. But just because it’s easier to engage with customers does not mean that engagement is always easy. Your social media strategy has a lot of variables to balance and goals to meet to be effective.
Amid all the digital noise, how can brands make their content and channels stand out? Beyond the usual elements of understanding the nuances of each platform, posting consistently, and finding the right hashtags, an effective social media strategy should authentically communicate your brand’s story.
Humanize Your Brand
People join social media to engage with others, to stay informed, and to be inspired. So, get to know your audience. Understand their wants, needs, and expectations and then build a specific social media strategy around those points. Know that audiences across different platforms may have different needs. Leverage industry data and trends and your performance across channels for a baseline of what your customers respond to and need.
But don’t just guess at what your customers want; allow them to speak for themselves and tell you what they expect from your brand and how their overall experience can be improved. Ask questions on a live stream, share polls and surveys, and listen to their comments and questions. Having a Q&A session with the social media manager that gives your customers a face behind the posts can further humanize your brand. Your customers will feel included in the brand’s overall story and you’ll be able to tailor your social media experience directly to what the customer wants and expects.
Consumers today react positively to transparent, genuine, and raw marketing campaigns. It’s ok for videos to not be perfectly polished, professionally-edited pieces. Instead, share a quick story of office life, show some behind-the-scenes of making your products, and make your content casual. Staged perfectionism does not work — and often, customers can see through that, anyway.
Just as you aim to humanize your brand, add some personalization to your outreach to humanize your individual customers. Don’t just copy and paste automated messages when replying to comments or DMs. When responding to an inquiry, start by addressing the questioner directly, such as “Hi Jen!” or “That’s great feedback, Jen, thank you! We will pass this to the rest of our team.” Good brands remember people and treat them as individuals who are all part of the same community.
Build a Raging Online Community
Yes, the keyword there is raging. The ideal scenario of any social media strategy is to have your brand’s supporters become your mouthpiece to boast about you on your behalf and do free advertising for you. To work toward that ideal, you need a raging online community that is in love with your products and services and who are willing to become brand ambassadors of their own accord.
This community can be fostered by taking your brand beyond simply a sales and revenue focus. Remain true to your values and brand voice, communicate honestly, and take responsibility for your actions.
Create a strong relationship between your brand and your followers.
Partner with influencers who can share your brand story from a different angle and leverage their own community followings. Put together a brand ambassador program to reward loyal customers. A strong community relies on constant day-to-day communication from a solid social media team that replies to DMs, posts, comments, tags, and reposts. Your team should also be open to receiving honest feedback from it’s most loyal followers.
Offer value to your customers.
This means value beyond simply selling and promoting your products and services. Value can come from sharing knowledge about your industry, tips and tricks, and inspiring quotes, for example. Avoid aggressive sales posts. Share resources and knowledge that will empower others.
Remember when you asked your customers what they needed? A product that specifically addresses a customer’s needs offers tremendous value. This new product can be branded around a social media campaign that lets customers know your company worked hard to address their specific concerns. This shows your brand listens and cares about your customers.
Share attention-grabbing content.
While content is an important element of your social media strategy, this point comes last for a reason. Often, brands tend to put content first, but without conveying real values and maintaining a strong relationship, good content alone will not carry your social media strategy.
Don’t post just for the likes. Skip shocking and click-bait content. Post real brand updates that adhere to your brand’s values and the likes and engagement will come organically over time. Share original images and videos that showcase your team, while updating your followers on the day-to-day office shenanigans (whether remote or in-person) to show off what makes your team and company great. This builds a sense of familiarity and shows your company culture. Plus people trust other people more than they trust companies: ResearchGate reports that photos that feature faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments on Instagram. Sharing original content shows customers who your brand really is, so don’t copy the competition. You can be inspired by what your competitors are doing, but ensure your individual pieces align with your own brand story.
Additionally, incorporate user-generated content into your strategy. Businesswire found that consumers are 2.4 times more likely to consider UGC authentic compared to brand-generated content. This further contributes to your raging online community, as people love to see themselves acknowledged by the brands they care about.
By building a raging online community, you can tap into the best type of social advertising around. While paid social media advertising like Facebook and Instagram ads help support your revenue goals and influencers diversify your content, word-of-mouth advertising and peer reviews go a long way into boosting your brand’s reputation. Nothing can top authentic, organic, unfiltered content from a trusted peer or friend.
Putting Together Your Social Media Strategy
Social media is a strong tool to have in your marketing portfolio. The diversity of channels and experiences social media offers, as well as the ability to meaningfully engage with customers and authentically share your brand’s journey, is crucial to your overall growth strategy.
NetElixir’s social media experts can help you create and execute your social media strategy and create a holistic plan that unifies your paid and organic social media approach. Contact NetElixir now.
For extra insights, download our 10 best practices to optimize your organic social media guide to ensure your channels have a strong foundation for growth!