According to the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, language was developed mainly because of the intrinsic need to indulge in ‘gossip’. While other animals can use language as a means of communication and tell each other “There is a tiger that side”, humans with their language can also explain what the tiger looks like and how they had spotted one at a wildlife sanctuary some time ago. This is the basic reason behind the success of social media platforms.
People love to be updated about what is happening around, and there is immense curiosity about what is going on in other people’s lives. Almost all of us have two personas now – The real one and the virtual one. And businesses are also not far away from the phenomenon. Businesses and companies are treated as individuals on social media and hence they need to behave accordingly.
Here are the top reasons why businesses NEED to be on social media in the first place:
1. Customer Service
The most convenient channel for consumers to reach any company today is through social media. No wonder most companies’ Twitter handles and Facebook pages are full of rants and complaints. However, a lot of businesses smartly use this to build relationships with customers by humanizing their responses and giving witty replies.
2. Social Listening
Today, people talk about everything under the sun on social media. There are several advanced tools available to track and decipher conversations on the internet to derive meaningful insights and interpretations. These can help businesses gather valuable consumer insights, which can cover a far larger number of people and geographies than traditional methods like market visits.
An excellent example is how Barclay’s quickly made changes to their app “Pingit”, based on social listening. The app was allowed for only 18+ years of age, which sounds just perfect. However, when they tracked the consumer responses in real time, they found that both teenagers and their parents were unhappy as parents were not able to transfer money to them. Hence, in the same week of the launch, the app was made available to 16+ years old ones. Such a quick turnaround was possible, thanks to the company’s agility.
3. Brand Awareness
Social media is a marvellous platform to spread the word about the brand. When content goes viral, a person completely unaware about the brand comes to know about it through connections talking about it. The Zero Moment of Truth is no longer a new phenomenon now and has almost replaced the First Moment of Truth now. In earlier days, the first moment of truth was the time when the consumer made the first physical contact with the product. Now, a consumer has a perception about the product, even before seeing the product in the store, as they have been exposed to the brand through social media. Hence, it is extremely important for brands to build a positive image on social media.
Not only does it work as a channel for creating brand awareness, social media works as a great medium to drive direct sales as well. For visual brands in particular, like apparel and home décor, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook help drive inspiration and sales as well. There are a lot of interesting formats available in advertising to drive conversions. Formats like carousels can help showcase multiple products in one go and Instagram stories are engaging, as well as give the user an option to swipe up and buy the product.
5. Engage with Content
Content used to be the king, now the conversation is. And any content that can drive great conversation is the winner. The best part about the digital medium is that the same content can be tweaked differently for four different members of the same house, as they will consume it on their personal devices. This personalization of content is one of the biggest USP’s of social media. Of course, it is not as easy as it seems. It takes a great amount of effort to build the right kind of content, tailored perfectly for the audiences. If done right, content can be quite effective to build a positive perception of the brand and drive the point home.
These were some of the business problems that brands can solve through social media marketing. However, how to build the right strategy for social media?
Below is an outline of how to get that thinking right:
1. Define your target audience
Yes, that is anyways the first step of any marketing campaign. Defining your audience clearly helps you decide the platforms you should be present on in the first place, and how you would be using those platforms. They say that Twitter is the tea party on the internet, Instagram is the travel and food diary, Facebook is the news broadcast medium and Pinterest symbolizes ambition and inspiration.
Hence, chances are that your audience might not be equally active across all platforms, and you should focus more time and energy on the ones that make more business sense for you.
2. Define what you want to drive through social media
Again, this could be different for different platforms. It is important to define if you want to use a channel for driving conversions, traffic to your website, create awareness or any other objective. This clarity of thought will really help you build the right content and choose the suitable format and effectively measure success.
3. Do not shy away from experimentation
Iteration and trying out different messages and formats are important to drive great results. Make good use of A/B testing with test groups to see what is working well and tweak your messaging accordingly. Real-time analysis of campaigns can help you optimize metrics on the go to ensure the best results.
The key is to understand how social media marketing is going to address your business objectives for the figure out the best channels to reach the target audience. It need not always be an elaborate storytelling approach, it can be a simple one-line message and still drive great results. It is all about knowing what you really want!