In the last decade, social media has exponentially grown to such a point that it is no longer just a way to cultivate connections with family and friends. It is now a key part of every successful business model. Failing to plan a social media strategy for your brand development is a marketing disaster. Regardless of your personal thoughts about social media, it now forms an integral part of how your target audience will engage with your brand.
In the same way that social media platforms have continued to evolve in recent years, so too have social media trends. Furthermore, each year, with advances in technology and the manner in which consumers absorb information, marketers have to continually adapt to stay ahead of the curve.
Social media brand engagement is one such trend that business are turning to. The relationship between brands and consumers has never been so interlinked. More and more people are tagging brands in their posts and comments. For some it may be for recognition and endorsement from an established well-known brand. For others it may be to create awareness and to get their point across. People are also using social media as the default channel for customer support. Long gone are the days of picking up the phone or sending an email. This has now been replaced with a tagged post or a DM (direct message). When it comes to building brand engagement, it is important that these messages, comments and tags are acknowledged and receive a response.
Make no mistake, nurturing a brand/customer relationship is a fine art.
Effective brand engagement across multiple social media platforms not only helps to increase brand awareness but it also builds customer loyalty.
The following are a selection of just a few best practices to help you to effectively engage with your audience:
Frequent posting of quality content is key. Depending on your particular brand, your posts may be creative, insightful, humorous or cutting-edge. To remain at the top of your followers’ newsfeed, you must consistently post quality content. To start with, aim for 3 to 5 posts per week. Your end goal should be 1 to 3 posts per day. Don’t overdo it. Finding good quality content is hard work. You also don’t want to spam your followers.
Regardless of the social media platform, studies have shown that the use of images in a post greatly increases the interaction rate. Not only do images capture attention and draw viewers to your post but visual content also aids with information retention.
You are the voice of the brand. You may represent a business but your followers don’t want to feel that they are being spoon-fed a constant flow of corporate press releases. Be personal, be friendly and be consistent with your brand identity. To effectively build this relationship, your followers need to feel that they are forming a personal bond with your brand.
For smaller businesses you may be able keep an eye on all your individual social media accounts. Be mindful that missing an important post or tag could have a detrimental impact on all your hard work. There are numerous social media marketing platforms and apps that allow you to monitor all of your channels from one location. This provides a streamlined way to track any social media traffic pertaining to your brand.
Your audience don’t just want a soap box to stand on. They also don’t want to feel like they are stood in front of your corporate megaphone. They have something to say about your brand. Listen to them. Understand the point they are trying to get across and address their concerns if necessary. This is about building a one-to-one relationship and not about just selling your product.
Your replies and feedback need to be timely. There is no point getting back to someone once the ship has sailed. You may be receiving a compliment or constructive criticism. It may even be an angry rant. Either way, chances are this ‘conversation’ is in the public domain. A prompt reply not only acknowledges their original post but also reinforces that what they have to say about your brand is important to you.
Like any effective marketing strategy, social media brand engagement is not a one-time activity. It has to be an ongoing process.
Once you design your logo and corporate identity, develop an impactful responsive website that conveys your core values and you register any and all social media channels that you feel suits your brand, then your work has just begun.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results as quickly as you would like. Well-established brands have spent a lot of time (and money) on building their online relationships. Hopefully the tips above will point you in the right direction and also give you the stepping stones you need to start engaging with your followers.