Brand interactions have changed due to rise in the use of social channels. We can see consumer reviews on Yelp and scan social media to gain other consumers’ opinions—plus influencers are playing an increasing role in how consumers interact with brands.
Reaching people, understanding their needs and pain points, and interacting with them has never been easier (and harder), especially with about 3.2 billion social media users worldwide—around 42% of the population. And here’s another number that might surprise you: the average time a person spends on social media per day is 2 hours and 22 minutes.
But what about potential customers? Yes, they are well represented in this data.
Statistics show that 54% of social browsers use social media to research products. More buyers are continually looking for reviews and recommendations through social media networks. That’s why it’s crucial to have a prominent online presence on multiple social media platforms. The key is to figure out the social media platforms your target market is using more frequently and how to make the most out of them.
1. Understand Your Audience
Your customers aren’t all the same; they’re of different ages, genders, cultures, opinions, and even generations. Emarketer broke down social media usage by generation, and the results looked like this:
90.4% of millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of baby boomers are active social media users.
With such massive diversity on social media, you must address the specific needs and problems of your user segments—and that’s not possible without understanding your audience and how it looks for answers and solutions to its problems. So, an excellent way to connect is telling your audience how you can help. Because if you talk with people, not at them, they will tune in to your vision and want to connect with your brand promise regardless of their generation.
Make sure you have a niche and well-defined message. Deliver content around your subject matter and stick to it. It can be a challenge when you first start because you are throwing everything up against the wall, but it’s worth making the effort.
2. Determine your edge and understand what customers need
Instead of selecting the competitors you're better than, distinguish the customers for whom you're the only answer. Find out what differentiates you in markets filled with imitation and replication, whatever you bring to the market as your competitive edge or advantage.
You’d be amazed at how many businesses and entrepreneurs admit they don’t have the slightest idea what their customers’ deepest desires and most agonizing problems are—and more than 90% of companies get it wrong, according to Jaynie L. Smith, the co-author of Relevant Selling and CEO of Smart Advantage.
How do you define your edge and understand your customers’ deepest needs?
1. Identify your guaranteed home-run consumer.
There are customers out there who are considerably influenced by what you do and for whom you make a significant difference—so much so that you're the only option they see or consider. If you don't know who that customer is, get clear on that before moving on.
2. Perfectly describe the problem you fix for this ideal customer.
Often, you're going to be the ideal vendor, not only because of who these customers are, but because of their current obstacles and difficulties. Are you best when they are rapidly evolving, shrinking, restructuring, or going international? You need to understand exactly what problem it is you solve.
3. Declare your market.
Once you know who's your ideal consumer, what problems you solve, and what help you present, be ready to declare it blatantly and proudly.
3. Incite word-of-mouth marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) was around long before the internet, social media, TVs, and all forms of modern marketing. It is considered an organic way of spreading information that uses elements of viral marketing, but spreads by more natural channels.
One reason WOMM is so important is because it’s a free form of advertisement or promotion. It’s shared by customers and triggered by an event the customer experiences—something beyond what’s expected.
While about 62% of consumers search online for reviews and information before purchasing a product, a staggering 90% believe brand recommendations from friends.
How can you make sure your recommendations are glowingly positive? This can be achieved in part by managing your online presence—ensuring you keep in touch with your audience through social media platforms by responding to messages, comments, or mentions. Almost three of four consumers (71%) who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to their family and friends. Interacting with customers through social media platforms shows them you care, which can go a long way in terms of establishing positive relationships with them. So, don’t ignore your followers; instead, try to get back to them promptly.
Of course, you also need to offer a stellar product or service, since people only praise or recommend something they like. You need to keep your current customers fully satisfied, which will encourage them to endorse and support your brand.
As some consumer issues are inevitable, resolve them as soon as possible to prevent customers from becoming disappointed and ultimately misrepresenting your product, service, or brand. Learn how to integrate relationship marketing to help with engaging and satisfying customers. And remember, a good word-of-mouth strategy starts with having highly satisfied customers.
4. Engage With Influencers
This ties strongly with the previous point, as influencer marketing is considered a type of word-of-mouth marketing strategy. And the huge role influencers play these days—not only in the field of marketing, but elsewhere—makes them invaluable as endorsers of your brand. As social media becomes an integrated part in everyone's lives, influencer marketing has blown up. People are turning to their favorite Twitter personalities, Instagram models, and YouTube channels for advice and recommendations on purchasing decisions.
Social media has allowed ordinary people to build their brands through inciting content and huge follower engagement. And these new influencers are more relatable than traditional celebrities—70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities and 6 in 10 teens follow advice from influencers over celebrities.
Since more and more people join social media channels every day, organizations have begun to realize they can benefit from using these platforms for marketing. Brands are increasingly depending on social media platforms for their marketing, for a very good reason: 49% of consumers claim they depend on influencer recommendations on social media to help them make their purchasing decisions. This means if consumers feel confident in the recommendation from an influencer, they’ll be more likely to purchase the product. This social media statistic makes it evident how brands can piggyback on the power of influencers to reach out to their customers.
In 2018, only 39% of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budget, but the 2019 statistics showed a drastic change:
Another statistic shows that in 2019, 19% of marketers spent between $1,000 to $10,000 annually on influencer marketing, while 18% spent $100,000 to $500,000. And, 7% of companies planned to invest over a million dollars on influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing won’t be going anywhere; it will only keep on growing. While it might not be the right thing for every company or brand, you’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you test it.
5. Create A Community, Not A Campaign: The Power of Conversation
Brands tend to broadcast their content and advertise. Of course, paid media has a role in creating awareness and delivering a consumable message, since it’s difficult to get heard organically. But think about how companies start out. Usually it’s through word-of-mouth
and referrals. People work with people, so don’t forget to connect with the communities you sell into.
Consumers nowadays can choose what they want to engage with more than ever. They can ignore brands on their social media feeds or block ads they don’t want to see, which is why creating a community around your brand is imperative for building your audience, getting more leads, and growing your business.
According to a survey by OnBrand, 70% of marketers say building an audience is more important than direct sales. Building a community and a following will augment your ability to convert followers into customers over time because selling to your entourage of loyal fans is way easier than selling to strangers who happen to see your ad on the web.
How can you actually build a community that consumers want to be associated with and a part of?
Build authority online
You can’t have an influential business without developing authority online. Instead of spending time searching for new clients, they’ll come in crowds if you’re an authority in your industry. Build authority for your business by sharing your knowledge through a YouTube channel or blog posts.
Being an authority in your industry is not only about your number of followers; it’s also about trust and credibility. If you provide helpful and valuable information to people that help them solve a problem or teach them how to do something, they’ll fully trust you, and your community will be full of devoted followers who will hang on your every word.
Create social groups
You can build a really strong relationship with your audience by creating groups to increase engagement and market your product.
You can start discussions in the group to see exactly what your audience is looking for and what issues members are trying to solve while offering valuable advice to them. They’ll feel like a part of an exclusive group where they can find a wealth of information.
If you attract a bunch of members with similar goals and interests, engagement will be quite high. You’ll have a ton of people engaging in discussions and sharing opinions and tips, and that creates a group your members will want to engage with every single day.
Newsletters are a very effective way to build relationships and create a community around your brand. Hopefully you’ve been building your email list; if you haven’t, you should. Everyone loves to feel special, so by sending newsletters to your subscribers, it makes them feel like they’re getting exclusive information. And if you’re able to provide them with educational and entertaining content in a weekly/monthly newsletter, they’ll be counting the days to receive the next one.
Spark a connection in the channels where your customers hang out and connect with them on the issues that are important to them. Be human and authentic by sharing things that happen in the course of your business. Join a conversation without advertising.
6. Know Repetition Is Your Friend
It isn’t only acceptable to repeat social media posts; it’s also necessary to reach your audience. When we talk about social media content, it turns out many marketers are met with challenges. It’s not uncommon to work strenuously on a killer piece of content and then share it on social media to the ear-splitting silence.
When this happens, most marketers and content creators throw in the towel and move on to the next piece of content. The good news is, there's a better and less painful approach to social media content. If you want to increase engagement, reach leads, and gain traffic, you’ve got to master the art of repeating posts.
It's obvious your followers aren’t online 24/7, and even when they are, they don't necessarily see your posts due to low organic reach and competition. If you're on Twitter, increasing the chance of your followers seeing/engaging with your post is even more significant considering the average half-life of a tweet is just 30 minutes! And if you’re on Facebook, you probably know Facebook pages' organic reach has regularly decreased over the last few years, dropping from 16% to 6.5%.
But what if I sound too spammy?
When social media posts are repeated with moderation, it’s unlikely to be regarded as spam, even if a follower sees a post more than once, which is quite unlikely. And. if they do, so what. The key is to provide benefit or interest in your content so your followers value you sharing it with them. On the other hand, repeating the same content every hour will undoubtedly annoy even your most forgiving followers, no matter how interesting it might be.
Using a scheduling tool enables you to identify and avoid any possible overlap, congestion, or saturation. Moreover, you should take your own social media habits into account. How often do you think is too much for you? This will give you a good sense of what to avoid.
The types of social media posts you can repeat can include:
● Regular promotions or events
● Content with still-relevant links
● Evergreen and timeless content
● Popular posts
● Big news
● Content with high value
● Content for different time zones
7. Use Brand Storytelling
The essence of every business and the core it is built on is a promise to offer consumers resolutions, better results, or better experiences. But how can you connect with potential customers, and how can you persuade them your brand has the answers and solutions they seek?
The answer is simple: Create relatable and compelling content; more precisely, create a story that's beneficial for your brand and the consumer.
Storytelling is a content marketing tool you can use to deliver your brand's message. It’s a powerful content marketing strategy that helps you build relationships. If you share a story consumers can instantly relate to, they’ll take the time to listen to your message and learn about the advantages of using your brand.
If you’re just starting out and you want your voice to be heard, brand storytelling is a must. Wonder what makes it that important? Here are some numbers.
Storytelling does more than increase your brand favorability in your audience’s eyes, it can also be memorable up to 22 times more than facts. Our neural activity increases up to 5 times when listening to a story.
In addition, storytelling lights up the brain’s sensory cortex, which makes listeners hear, feel, taste, and even smell the story you’re telling. A great example of this is a 2013 ad run in India as part of a promotional campaign. In it, Google tells the story of two friends who’ve been separated as a result of the India-Pakistan partition and brought back together after six decades thanks to Google Search.
Social media marketing can be hard work. However, it’s impossible to ignore its benefits. If you don’t take it seriously, you’ll surely miss out on customers, leads, online recognition, and sales.
To be successful, we must:
- Understand your audience
- Determine your edge
- Know what customers need
- Incite word-of-mouth marketing
- Engage with influencers
- Create a community through conversation
- Embrace repetition as your friend
- Use brand storytelling
When your audience is your top priority, and you use these best practices, you’ll be well on your way to creating an engaged audience and establishing your brand’s presence across all your social channels.