When it comes to social media in 2015, it is a genuine surprise to come across someone who states they don’t have a Facebook account, that they don’t understand the purpose of Instagram or even worse, they wouldn’t even know how to ‘Twitter’. In this case they might as well revert back to a Nokia 3310 or smoke signals for a reliant form of communication. Granted, in the grand scheme of life, no you don’t need 500 friends on Facebook, a verification tick on Twitter nor to Instagram your every meal so it seems acceptable(ish) to not be using social media in 2015. However as a business in need of building its presence, increasing awareness, reaching current and potential customers and maintaining those relationships, social media really is a pretty much a necessity.
We often find with clients that social media can be the victim of neglect. With social channels it can seem that there is no immediate return on investment and therefore its role is perhaps devalued as part of a brands marketing strategy. This is quite the error. If an audience is all tied together and active on one social channel, then why are businesses ignoring that audience?
The Importance of Social Media in Business
Without stating the obvious or at the risk of sounding patronising, having your brand on social media means you can create brand noise, build relationships, communicate brand services or products and connect with your customers. That’s our basis, but without strategy and purpose you’re going to find frustration when you are not seeing any return.
Using social channels isn’t just about tweeting every Jack and Sally about products. You need to demonstrate persona, innovation and individuality. SocialBro interviewed River Islands Social Media and Marketing Editor Emma Goble who highlighted the mass success of River Islands Social strategy leading to gaining over 3 million fans. Emma states:
Goble: “A few years ago we were all about acquisition and fan growth for our accounts, but now that we’ve achieved over 3.3 million fans and followers across social media we’ve turned our attention towards driving traffic and revenue KPIs, getting good engagement rates, communicating our brand messages to the customer and improving brand awareness.
I don’t think there’s much point in growing your audience if your engagement is low, and the audience isn’t highly relevant to your brand. We’ve got a really great community, so now it’s important to be confident with that audience and make sure we’re producing content that’s super engaging to them while also converting people into customers.”
River Island provides a classic example of how a business should be using social to gain following and to be engaging for customers. Another brand to take a look at is Innocent Drinks; masters of Twitter with their quick and witty campaigns that aren’t just about pushing drinks but staying relevant and relatable. These are the kind of strategies that catch your audience’s attention and make social history.
— innocent drinks (@innocent) March 9, 2015
Remember, this is your opportunity to directly talk to your customer base. You can seize this as a chance to put a personality and a human voice to your brand and therefore become relatable.
One Size Does Not Fit All
With an ever growing market of social networks, it easy to get lost in trying to please all. With such a choice in channels it may seem that the obvious solution is to utilize all. However, as our subtitle suggests, one size does not fit all, nor does every social channel serve the same purpose. As a brand selling apparel, you wouldn’t be flaunting your best dresses on LinkedIn just like as a solicitor you wouldn’t necessarily be putting all of your efforts into Facebook. You need to establish where your audience is and how to engage them. See social as your chance to outshine your competitors, expose your potential and to get creative. If you are a brand with visual as an advantage, merge yourself into platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. If you’re B2B, use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to build your authoritative and leading tone, promote your on site content and in turn you are building yourself as a strong brand. Remember, if you’re sharing content of interest, you’re increasing chances of engagement which in turn contributes to improving your sites social visibility. Your audience want to be engaged with, not spoken at. With utmost importance, regardless of whether you are B2C or B2B, consistency must be priority. You must use the same brand tone and strategy with every social channel in order to carry your brand across all platforms. Tweeting products but Facebooking memes unrelated to your brand offers confusion and damages the strength of your brands voice online. However this does not mean that the same schedule of updates has to be used for every channel. Consistent posting on your Facebook page could be seen as spammy and may irritate your customers whereas consistent posting on Twitter (lets say 4-5 times a day) keeps up with your audience. It’s all about consideration, thought out strategy and balance.
Scaleable Social Strategy
The beauty of using social media to compliment your marketing campaigns is that it is down to you what role you want it to play. What is important to consider if you want to ensure it provides value are defined KPIs; whether it’s driving traffic to your site, creating exposure for a product launch or onsite content, understanding what you wish to gain with social can help put forward a strategy. Focusing on paid social for example, PushON often offer client’s scalable strategies if they wish to use paid social to support a campaign. These strategies are based on low to high budgets in order to suit the specific needs of a client. Paid social campaigns are a great way to specifically target audience as well as boost results. It offers a more tailored role to a campaign. Social strategies are always scalable in their role of supporting campaigns. For example Three have introduced free roaming costs abroad and have cleverly used social media as a the main focus and driver of their campaign, jumping on social trends that are relevant and used by their audience
Three have merged social media as a main player in supporting their campaign. This is an example of social media playing a dominant and upscaled role in a marketing campaign.
The point we’re making here is that yes, not everyone has the biggest budget to spare on marketing through social media but it can be tailored in its role in your campaign. Whether it supports your organic activities, is used to target new and specific audiences or becomes to focal point of your campaign, social media offers new possibilities to your business and all budgets.
Seeing social as a platform to promote yourself and engage with your customer base is a great starting strategy. But if you really want to win at social you need to get creative. From harnessing your audiences content to enforcing hashtag campaigns, there are so many innovative and stand out ways to become a social success.
Looking back at River Island, Sophie highlights how they encouraged customers to tweet and Instagram photos using their specific hashtag and other users can buy the clothes in the image.
“We now have a shoppable gallery online where people can upload Tweets and Instagram photos that use the hashtag. People can click on the picture that they like and buy the clothes in it”
This type of smart social selling is giving your customers a more exciting and relatable journey in purchasing. Similarly, in the travel sector, social media is playing huge roles in transforming the way customers are searching and booking holidays. Conrad Hotels for example have harnessed Like2Buy allowing customers to click on photos on their Instagram that lead straight to a reservation page. Not only is this standing out to customers but it has people talking across the globe about Conrad Hotels.
Social media in business should never be treated as a minority marketing channel. Social Media is an opportunity for businesses that has never existed before. When there are everyday examples from the likes of Innocent drinks, Oreo, River Island and more who dominate social success with smart strategies that get people talking, it would be silly to not join in on the fun and to deny yourself the exposure. Harnessing this channel of highly engaged followers who could eventually drive leads or sales to your business is invaluable.