While the technological landscape of our times is too dynamic to stop and fixate on one trend, social media marketing is one of the themes that are here to stay. When it comes to marketing your business, social media is like the elephant in the room which you just simply cannot ignore. With a reach of 4.33 billion active users and counting, it can do absolute wonders for your marketing strategy, if leveraged right.
Moreover, the marketing landscape has been totally transformed in the wake of COVID-19. McKinsey’s research indicates a jump from 15 percent to 45 percent in online consumer spending in a span of five months in the US alone. Companies have, likewise, responded with most of them moving to digital channels in large numbers.
So how can you use social media to keep up with the digital pace?
Focus on your Branding
Branding, put simply, is a set of techniques designed to generate cultural relevance. Ask yourself this, how relatable is your brand story to your audience? Can they connect to your brand based on your branding? Does it make them feel comfortable, does it excite them, does it remind them of a happy time?
In a Harvard Business Review article, Douglas Holt, the world’s leading expert on cultural approaches to branding, strategy and innovation writes,
“Iconic brands are cultural innovators: They leapfrog the conventions of their categories to champion new ideologies that are meaningful to customers. As a result, they enjoy intense customer loyalty and superior sales and profits, and garner loads of free media coverage. In business, few achievements are more prized than creating an iconic brand.”
Nurture your Target Audience
Gone are the days when brands could get away with shouting their messages at their audience. Social media has now empowered the masses to scroll and block ads. It is now more important than ever to nurture your audience to get your business rolling.
Tell your brand story in a way people would want to consume it. Build relationships through consumer engagement. Provide valuable content, such as how-to videos or “behind-the-scenes” reels. Podcasts are also witnessing exponential popularity and so are shows, live streaming and video communications via social media stories.
While it’s understandable that traffic and conversion are the ultimate goals, a brand cannot retain its audience if it doesn’t use social media channels to engage its audience and build loyalty.
Choose the Right Platform for Your Business
Forbes Communications Council advises considering the nature of your business before deciding the social media platform to market your business on. Business-to-business (B2B) companies benefit from LinkedIn by making connections with prospective clients whereas, for Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, Facebook and Instagram remain the prime drivers of visibility and traction.
It is worth mentioning that each social media platform has distinct features, which marketers must evaluate in order to decide which one’s the best. Instagram Reels, for example, is an on-platform feature whose popularity is expected to boom in 2021.
- Keep Engagement High
While the ongoing pandemic has crippled social life, it has opened many new doors of opportunities for businesses as well. As per the Forbes Expert Panel, the past year has witnessed a meteoric rise in social media commerce and the same trend continues in the current year. People are tuning in to their preferred channels for their shopping needs and rewarding the brands that are focused on two-way communication. If you manage to ride this tide, the pie is all yours to eat.
- Be Personal
As per Jeremy Harris from University of Nebraska, you cannot engage your audience without having an effective social media engagement strategy which prioritizes relationship and conversation over reach. You have to listen carefully to your consumers and talk about what they are talking about, in the same language and idiom.
This is where the trusted brand representation comes from, and it goes far deeper than that. For example, a brand representation which goes for “exploitative” hashtags cannot hold up in the competition for long, because people understand exploitation just as well, and they are quick to switch. Only “meaningful” hashtags, posts, stories and even product designing and packaging have the potential to turn around the game. Social media customer service and support is also a critical area.
Make it your priority to respond or watch somebody else cultivate trust in your customer and take your share.
- Capitalize on Trends
Social media trends come and go but some are here to stay for long. Social listening, for example, is one such trend that is helping brands keep an eye on what people are saying about them.
According to research, 60% of consumers want to hear back within 60 minutes of posting an online complaint. If they don’t receive a response, they ditch the brand. To truly benefit from social listening, you need to employ a service or tool that specializes in it. A few of the best include Hootsuite Insights, Brandwatch, Mention, ReviewTrackers, Talkwalker, and TrackReddit.
Local targeting is another social media trend that is making local brands more discoverable. Brands geo-tag their posts which Facebook, Twitter and Instagram algorithms later use to target audiences in a specific locality through their IP addresses.
So how can you get locally generated information? You can use Nuwber to get geographical and other information about your customer to give a personal touch during your sales calls/social media sales pitch.
Talking about the weather of the exact place they’re in, or addressing a community-specific problem when talking to them will give them a sense of belongingness with your business and expect meaningful conversations from them in return. Thus, you can use it to not only get to know your audience better but also catch scammers and thieves.
Influencer marketing, virtual and augmented reality, live streaming and user-generated content are other important upcoming trends that brands need to look out for.
- Endorse Celebrities/Influencers
One of the strongest social media marketing trends that have remained in the past couple of years is influencer marketing, and there are just as many ways of doing it right as there are otherwise.
Julianne Fraser, an expert on influencer marketing halo effect, outlines seven successful influencer marketing strategies featured in Forbes. These strategies include deciding at the outset whether or not influencer marketing is relevant to your brand, defining the desired “influence”, crafting a creative message to pierce through the social noise, curating the right partners and their right volume, measuring return on investment (ROI) and establishing a relationship roadmap.
She cautions against moving too fast while chalking up a marketing strategy and picking influencers because it has significant chances of backfiring.
With the changing marketing landscapes, there is no longer a question of ‘if’ you’d like to use Social Media to promote your business, it’s ‘how’ to use it. Social media has become an absolute necessity for almost every business, and one that has nearly made conventional marketing strategies a story of bygone days.
Jonathan Durante, a Forbes Council member, boils it all down to three simple principles to keep in mind while marketing your business on social: hyper-targeting customers based on exact demographics, building an audience and tracking ROI – do this and you are a happy company with super-happy consumers.