Business is more transparent today than ever before. A company must relate to its clientele, or today’s fickle audience will find their entertainment elsewhere. This can be a struggle for businesses, who struggle just to figure out how to engage customers through social media:
Source: Marketing Charts
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a mystery. There are certain things which can help attract online users. More importantly, certain tried techniques increase content sharability and brand awareness in meaningful social circles. If you want to make your social media campaign work, take some notes, because the following techniques are real revenue-builders:
Listen. Frasier Crane from the eponymous show Frasier had a catchphrase every media marketer should adopt: “I’m listening.” For every person writing social media posts for your company, there are thousands of customers voicing their concerns, complaints, gratitude, and personal experiences. Companies used to spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars investigating consumer behavior. Now you have consumers telling you exactly what they think. Use that knowledge to learn what is important to them, so your future posts add real value to conversations trending on Facebook and Twitter.
Quality. Like anything else, quality over quantity. Nothing causes people to hide your posts and unfollow your feed faster than trite posts or a company trying too hard to fit in.
Be Patient. “Going viral” is a ubiquitous term, one that makes the internet appear magical. Many business owners and new marketers think virality is a given provided content is created using a mystical formula. In some cases this might be true. But consider this: just as many people are rich because of the lottery. In reality, forging a strong social media voice takes time. Lots of time, rolled up sleeves, and probably a few missteps.
Market Influencers Matter. Key to your business strategy are the amateur industry experts. These are the bloggers who try every vacuum, visit every restaurant, and test-play every popular video game. People follow them for a reason: they take it upon themselves to stay informed, yet appear less biased than the formal company social media feeds. Identifying these conversation stakeholders is key to a successful strategy.
Set Examples for Customers. Bethesda, a video game company, is releasing the fourth installment of its Fallout series, an intensely successful game with a huge fanbase. Its in-game currency are bottlecaps instead of traditional currency. So when a fan mailed the company more than 2,000 bottlecaps, Bethesda publicly announced the fan would receive an exclusive, free copy of the game. This led to a huge wave of approval from fans and garnered the attention of gamers unfamiliar with the franchise. While virality is not guaranteed, it behooves you to identify important opportunities like these.
Share Diverse Content. Use images, videos, and other multi-media content as much as possible. Why? Customers are far more likely to share that content. Images increase retweets on Twitter by more than 150%. It is also wise to share the same pieces across multiple channels, sometimes multiple times. You never know who missed out the first time around.
Why the Misaligned Message is a Death Sentence
How do you know if your message aligns with your brand? Many times, not even the best marketers can tell you if this is happening without some trial and error. Everyone knows of the big hit Starbucks took when it delivered its unsuccessful #RaceTogether campaign. Not every social media campaign succeeds, but one of the main reasons cited for the #RaceTogether campaign’s failure was brand misalignment.
While the campaign itself was well-intentioned, Starbucks was never a company associated with racial inequality. Even more telling, its employees were untrained to deal with racial issues voiced by their customers, causing much confusion and trepidation.
What you can learn from Starbuck’s mistake is this: a campaign needs to go hand-in-hand with the brand. Inconsistent social media personalities are bad enough, but when a company-wide push seems off-kilter from the company’s normal behavior, the clientele wonders what that company truly stands for.
Companies with Great Ideas
On the flip side, a successful social media campaign builds loyalists. People love getting involved ground-floor on a campaign that is about to explode, so they can say “I was there when it started.” Here are some notable examples:
Samuel Adams. One of the largest labels in the United States, Samuel Adams decided to pull a prank on April Fool’s Day that wound up going viral. They announced a new line of beer crafted with a secret ingredient: helium. Accompanied by fake marketing videos, this led to a sharp increase in sales as public perception of the company sweetened.
Honda. Utilizing the hashtag “Cheerance,” Honda advertised a big summer blowout sale in August of 2014. They donated a hundred grand to brain research and supported their efforts with a video by YouTube celebrity Andrew Hales. In addition to their digital marketing, Honda held fun events in major cities across the US and hired extra help to speak directly with fans across all social media channels. The result of their hard work? Honda garnered nearly 9,000 new Facebook likes and more than 4,500 Twitter followers.
Hyatt. Going after the business professional crowd, Hyatt used LinkedIn to share business information, provide updates on its hotels, and share customer stories from all over the world. They used the hashtag “InAHyattWorld” and produced exclusive content aimed at their biggest demographics, resulting in a major sales increase.
Blendertec. Do you remember the popular video series “Will It Blend?” If so, you are one of more than 50 million people that watched their videos. The company shredded iPads, toys, and other ridiculous things that made these one of the highest-shared advertising videos on YouTube. This stunt led to a breathtaking 700% increase in sales.