Almost half of the world’s population is now active on some form of social network. The opportunity for your socially-sharable content to reach a large and relevant audience is gargantuan. But it also means that the way your brand interacts with its audience carries a lot of weight.
Without a presence on social media, a brand is not competitive. While each platform provides direct engagement with the target consumer, profitability off the back of social media is often at the forefront of a company’s KPIs. There are myriad ways to use social media to your brand’s advantage and you’re going to run through four of them in this post.
1. News and trendjacking
Not only does social media now outpace print newspapers as a news source in the United States, but it is the most popular way for 18-29 year-olds to consume news.
Social media allows users to not only get up-to-the-second news alerts, but instantly comment their opinion, presenting the perfect spot to keep up with trending topics and the running commentary surrounding them. Once popular topics relating to your brand have been identified, either relevant content can be created in the hope of gaining traction or you can join in with a simple response to the conversations if time is of the essence.
Twitter is an extremely useful news platform due to its unending stream of Tweets and various tools and features:
- Tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to track keywords and conversations from Twitter that relate to your industry in a clear format. BuzzSumo can also be useful to discover what sort of content is trending across social media channels beyond Twitter, based on the number of shares and engagements.
- Monitor the trending topics on Twitter for the latest conversations. To take a more focused approach on specific topics, use the Twitter “lists” feature to create a curated feed of specialists in the field specific to certain trending topics to observe and engage with.
Reddit, which has been called ‘the front page of the internet’, is also a go-to source for inspiration, giving you an insight into niche topics through the thousands of subreddits on offer.
Subreddits like explainlikeimfive and askreddit demonstrate questions people are asking about the world, which may relate to your brand’s specialist topic. By adding Reddit to your daily news roundup, you may be able to spot trends in what people are asking to then plan content around this.
Trendjacking is a marketing technique that involves a brand riding the wave of a social media trend to gain awareness. With quick reactions and the right thought and research, newsjacking or trendjacking, can be useful tool to stay in the minds of your followers and reach out to those outside of your typical target audience.
When Apple released its new – and very expensive – Mac Pro, which looked rather like a cheese grater, Ikea noticed the comparisons across social media and were quick to jump on it. A simple asset showing a grater with the tagline “Designed for apples” managed to turn another brand’s product launch into press for themselves, earning thousands of shares online and a host of articles in authoritative publications.
2. Boost brand awareness by posting regularly
Trying to grow your brand without an audience engaging in your content is futile. It doesn’t take a genius to know that gaining this audience means producing content that is interesting enough to be shared naturally amongst your fans. But the thing that can bolster this even more? Posting engaging content frequently.
A consistent stream of posts will keep your content fresh in your audience’s mind. As the likes and comments roll in, you’ll begin to gauge what engages your audience and what doesn’t, so you can begin making more of what is more likely to get shared, therefore boosting your audience.
Understanding the kind of content that will help get your posts shared widely requires keeping up to date with the latest social developments as well as your audience. Here are a few tips about how you can do this:
- Look out for industry reports, analysis and roundups such as the Social Media Examiner’s yearly Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report and We Are Social’s global digital report to name a few. Also, browse sites like Digital Trends as well as tech pages of big news sites.
- Play with formats: create videos, Instagram stories, open questions, polls, quizzes, memes (even some newsjacking). Buffer’s data-backed social media content trends for 2019 is a good place to get started, as is Hootsuite’s list of things to try on social this year. With so many options available, there’s no excuses for not shaking up your online presence and trying something new.
- Use social analytics to understand what and when to post based on positive feedback from your audience. These insight can then be built into your ever-evolving social strategy.
Case study: Tentree
Clothing company Tentree leveraged the environmental and social awareness of their existing audience by creating an Instagram campaign on becoming “the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet”.
To celebrate ‘Earth Day’, they promised to plant 500,000 trees in Indonesia if an Instagram post reached 5 million likes – an optimistic target for an account that had less than half that number of followers. But, thanks to enthusiasm for the cause, the campaign snowballed in popularity, reaching over 15 million likes and increasing their website hits by 200%.
The campaign shows how targeting the passionately held beliefs of an existing follower base can jumpstart action.
3. Engage, engage, engage
Social media platforms provide the best way for brands and consumers to engage with one another, which naturally increases customer loyalty.
Sprout Social found that 76% of customers would buy from one brand over a competitor when they feel connected to them and 78% of consumers want brands to use social to help people connect with one another.
These numbers demonstrate the need for brands to humanise their content to avoid one-way conversations and lack of genuine interaction, which can seem robotic to consumers. Making a real effort to understand your consumer’s needs through transparency and empathy will create a stronger, more loyal and appreciative community.
But how do you do this? Here’s my top tips:
- Spend time where your customers and potential customers are to help you understand them better and get into their feeds. Using social listening tools lets you easily track conversations online that don’t directly mention your social handles, preventing complaints from getting out of hand and even identifying potential brand advocates.
- Be as helpful and sincere as possible, while sticking to your brand’s tone of voice.
- Respond to comments publicly even if it’s asking them to message you privately, as this shows that you’re listening and resolving concerns.
- Consistent conversations will see relationships with consumers grow.
Netflix does this brilliantly, constantly engaging with fans on Twitter, replying with relevant, relatable and funny GIFs, memes or images from the shows.
4. Earn credibility among other businesses
In a 2017 survey by Sprout Social, it was found that 42% of people are more likely to purchase if a brand provided informative content. People are keen to learn new things via social media, and therefore sharing educational content can help to build a reputation as a thought leader in your field among customers and fellow industry professionals. Your brand can earn this credibility by:
- Using sites like Quora, the question and answer forum, which boasts over 300m unique monthly visitors. Here, you can answer questions relating to your industry to start being seen as an authority, while once again building an understanding of what questions people in your field are asking.
- Consider podcasting. This medium suits our current always-on culture allowing podcast listeners to take in the discussions and tips of experts via a simple download. Uploads can be regular and edited to be packed with useful insights for every episode. A few social media podcasts I recommend are ‘The Science of Social Media’ by Buffer, ‘Social Minds’ by Social Chain and ‘Social Media Marketing’ with Michael Stelzner by Social Media Examiner.
We recently released Builtvisible’s complete guide to outreach, full of tips and tactics to earn content the visibility it deserves. Offering this for free enabled us to strengthen our reputation in this area of expertise, reaching out to our current audience, outreach beginners and content strategists.
A staple element of strategy
A recent industry report found that more than 70% of marketers who have been branding through social media for more than 12 months said that it improved sales and over two thirds said it generated new leads.
If done right, increased exposure of quality content will drive more people to your profiles, your website and your work. By listening, researching and understanding what works for your brand through data insight and experimentation, staying up to date with news and social trends and progression, providing genuine value to people, and building a strong online reputation, your brand will stand in good stead to boost sales.
But more importantly, you’ll have a solid bank of quality social media content to share with the world.