One of the core opportunities for brands and businesses to utilize social media marketing is to engage directly with their current and potential customers. While brand awareness is a first link in a business’ social marketing value chain, the ability to connect directly with a consumer to draw them closer gives the brand the opportunity to drive consumer advocacy, engagement, and feedback. How are brands outlining social engagement with customers today? What are the best practices they need to use to ensure positive consumer response?
Direct Social Engagement | Engagement by Consumer Type
Finding and publishing meaningful content for social sharing can be a daunting task. What kind of content are people looking for? What are the best practices for social engagement?Altimeter Group published an “Engagement Pyramid” and accompanying tactics for marketing to different social consumers in the marketplace. They hypothesize that in social networks, 90% of people are audience members, 9% are editors (create content), and 1% are curators (heavily involved in online communities). Their recommendations for social engagement at all the levels of the pyramid are included in the SlideShare presentation below.
Direct Social Engagement | Should You Use the Same Brand Messaging on Social Media?
Your social voice should be your brand’s voice (reflecting brand identity, values), but on a personal level. A social voice should be just that…social (rather than just messaging/promotion-oriented).The social voice, and the content and communications that are published socially, should reflect the pillars of the brand (the company’s/brand’s values) as well as the topics and flow of conversation from people using the brand’s products. For instance, an organic food product’s social voice should include content and comments about the organic lifestyle, organic recipes, sustainable farming, and other key pillars and topics that support the brand’s identity. This kind of content will attract the audience most likely to buy the brand’s products and create an opening for “Watchers” to become “Sharers” and even “Commenters” (in Altimeter’s terms).The content shared on social media by the brand should enable target customers to identify and develop brand affinity and advocacy. Even brands with commodity products (e.g. gasoline) can engage with consumers based upon their brand’s pillars; for instance, an oil company can engage with consumers about conservation, ecology, etc. Just make sure that the social voice is a true reflection of corporate values; social consumers want to see authenticity in the brand’s social voice.
Direct Social Engagement | Brand Affinity and Brand Trust
People buy from the brands they like, use, and admire. If they find those brands on the social web, it’s an opportunity for the brand to get closer to the consumer.When engaging consumers who may not have a relationship with the brand, a business should use a light touch first and then let the consumer set the pace of social engagement and communications. For instance, a brand can comment on a consumer’s Twitter status update and follow that person. If the consumer follows back, and even sends a comment back, it’s a great first step. Brands shouldn’t try to sell at first touch, they should let the consumer investigate the brand. Just following that person will introduce the brand to the consumer.Most brands hope to drive new contacts to their website; social media (and content sharing) helps people find the brand, and the website explains what benefits the brand offers. Make sure that the website is clear, provides great content and value, and supports the brand’s social identity. Make sure links from the brand’s social pages (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) are directed towards appropriate pages on the brand’s website.
Direct Social Engagement | Ask for Permission, Don’t Overstep Boundaries
Strictly adhering to the communication preferences of the consumer helps you keep that consumer engaged and develops trust.The “ask” should not be done at first touch; however, asking at various junctures on the brand’s website, Facebook page, on landing pages, etc. is desirable and acceptable.Remember: Date first before thinking of marriage!
Direct Social Engagement | Measuring Value
There’s pressure from management to have measurable, tangible results from social engagement. In fact, some within corporate leadership still don’t see the value and are afraid of seeing the negative comments that are being posted about them. Remember that the comments are happening whether or not your company is listening; social engagement is an opportunity to receive feedback from customers and to turn negative consumer experiences into positive outcomes. But you can’t do that if you’re not listening to and engaging with social consumers.The value can be measured like other media–impressions, clicks, and even commerce. The use cases are there but the business needs to commit to moving forward with social marketing in order to prove the value.
How are you engaging with consumers? What value has it brought to your company? We’d love to hear from you!