Business, How To, Marketing, News, Social Media

Beyond Marketing: How Brands Can Use Social Media To Delight Audiences

Illustration of a crowd of people representing social media marketing

70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends and family after a positive experience with the brand on social media.

Social media marketing and advertising are truly potent when it comes to making more sales and growing your customer base. However, a lot of brands make the mistake of viewing social media only as a source of leads or sales.

This is a mistake because before being a platform where you can show ads to targeted individuals, these platforms were meant for socialization. From a user’s perspective, social media platforms are used for socialization. If your brand is using these platforms to just sell, you are missing out on the real benefits of social media.

Many entrepreneurs and business decision-makers don’t think about other social media activities because they think that they will not have any influence over the bottom line of their business.

However, that is far from the truth. Engaging your audiences on social media, even when they are not willing to make a purchase, delivers several benefits that can be connected to a revenue boost.

Here are a few examples:

  • As mentioned earlier, studies show that positive social media experiences can boost word-of-mouth referrals. These referrals have a direct impact on your sales numbers.
  • Social media activities designed to engage your audience give you a chance to build a loyal tribe for your brand. Remember, brand loyalty may or may not be quantifiable, but it can be directly responsible for long-term growth.
  • When done right, social media engagement activities will get your audience talking about your brand within their content. This will create intrigue for prospects that may not yet be a part of your targeted audience and compel them to check your brand out.
  • Consistent social media engagement activities allow your brand to improve top-of-the-mind brand recall value. This means, whenever a potential customer is ready to purchase something that you offer, your brand will be the first that they think of.

If you want your brand to experience similar benefits on social media, you must start looking beyond these platforms’ ability to get you, new customers. Instead, you must tap into their potential to delight existing customers and audiences into becoming advocates of your brand.

How can you do that? Here are a few ideas:

Do More Research

For any of your customer and/or audience delight efforts to work, you must first ensure you know what your audience will appreciate. This advice is not limited to social media. Thorough audience research is the foundation of any successful marketing strategy.

Many brands start their social media marketing efforts, backed by a sizable advertising budget, with the hope that they will be able to build a loyal social media following quickly.

However, it doesn’t work like that. “Follower ads” may help you gain a few followers in the beginning but you cannot buy engagement, and having an unengaged following on social media is just as good as having no social media followers.

Long-term social media growth, building a loyal and engaged following for your brand, delivering products and marketing messages that convert browsers into customers and customers into advocates- all that demands in-depth customer research.

The web is filled to the brim with tips, tricks, and hacks that will help you save money and time on creating ads, producing content, on outreach, but you will rarely find such advice dedicated to customer research. This is because good marketers know the importance of research in creating marketing communication that resonates with people that keep the lights on (paying customers).

So, before you start establishing a social media presence before you start selling your products or service, spend some time listening. Find out who your ideal audience is, which platforms they prefer, what their problems are, and what makes them take action. Understand their pain points and motivation.

Social listening tools will help you tap in on relevant public conversations on different social media networks. Falcon.io, HootSuite, and Buffer are just a few examples of incredibly powerful social listening tools that you can use to get started with your customer research.

Bonus Tip: Researching the preferences of your customers and audience will not just enable you to target the right social media platform, it will also inform you about the industry publications that your audience love and follow. Using this information you can do more targeted blogger outreach that complements your activity on social media, essentially creating a 360-degree experience for your customers.

Moreover, if you combine this data with data from your rank tracker, you can further slim down your outreach efforts to blogs whose backlink will deliver a substantial impact on your rankings.

Invest In Hype

Building hype around an upcoming event or a product launch, or even around your brand if it’s not already present on social media has emerged as a great strategy.

Social media hype is the reason behind a variety of success stories ranging from heartwarming to bizarre. From making the photo of an egg the most-liked Instagram post to raising awareness about prostate cancer with the No Shave November challenge, social media hype is real and it’s impactful.

If you too, perfect the ability to create hype around your product and event launches, you can ensure that your followers:

  • Always have something to look forward to (relevant to your brand)
  • Routinely feel like they are a part of a community and participating in creating hype around the next big social media trend

Some tried and tested ways to create hype on social media are:

  • Influencer collaborations: Get influencers to create hype around an upcoming event or product before its reveal. Keep in mind that this kind of promotion will not benefit from a single post by a few influencers. Instead, try to secure collaborations that include multiple content deliverables and even possibly extend beyond the launch of your event/product/brand.
  • Creating Intrigue With Content: Just like you will expect from an influencer creating hype, your brand handles should also publish content dedicated to creating interest in the upcoming launch. It is a great idea to supplement this hype with content on your website. This way you can let your website visitors participate in the hype and become a part of your brand’s social media tribe.
  • Contest: Contests work incredibly well when it comes to creating hype on social media. Contests can be associated with a hashtag dedicated to the upcoming launch and can involve individuals producing content to qualify as participants. 

If you can back this content with a little bit of paid promotion, you can expect some truly great engagement and participation numbers. As a result of this, more people will come to know about the contest and the upcoming launch, further fuelling the hype.

Your efforts of creating hype will not always deliver the same kind of results. However, if you are consistent with your efforts of boosting social media engagement, you can expect more and more people to get “hyped” by your upcoming launches.

Invest In Authentic Influencer Partnerships

Almost every piece of content that talks about social media marketing mention influencer marketing somewhere. A survey found that 65% of influencer marketing budgets saw a boost last year. This was up from 39% back in 2018.

With that said, when not done right, influencer marketing can be a surprisingly disappointing undertaking.

Another survey, conducted this year, revealed that 58% of social media users don’t ever plan to buy an influencer-promoted product, and they have a good reason behind this decision.

See, it isn’t that modern social media users don’t like influencers because if they didn’t, there would not be any influencers. Modern social media users also don’t particularly dislike brands in general.

However, they do dislike being sold to on a platform they use to socialize. Modern social media users can spot an unaligned or forced brand-influencer partnership from miles away and are willing to go the extra mile to avoid such content.

When you do influencer marketing right, that is, with creative and engaging content and the right influencers, everybody involved wins.

The influencer gets to produce and share great content that helps them strengthen the loyalty of their following.

The influencer’s audience gets access to content that they love.

Your brand enjoys exposure to an untapped chunk of your target audience.

So, how do you do influencer marketing the correct way? While there isn’t a definitive guide on the subject, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure the influencer has real followers. Selling fake social media followers is big business these days. So big that a few months ago it was revealed that most mega-influencers have large numbers of fake followers. Over 40% of audiences of famous “Instagram celebrities” like Kim Kardashian and pop celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry are fake Instagram accounts.

While you may not have plans to work with such big names, it is still highly probable that you may come across influencer profiles with fake followers.

While there are certain telltale signs of fake influencer profiles such as a sudden, unexplainable, and unusual spike in their follower count, or an unusual follower-engagement ratio. A low follower-engagement ratio may or may not be a sign of fake followers, but it is a definite sign of an unengaged audience.

Social Media Influencer FollowersImage Source: sproutsocial.com 

Similarly, analyzing the quality of the comments on an influencers’ profile is also a great way to gauge whether or not they have genuine followers. If the majority of the comments are similar to the ones in the screenshot above, it is safe to assume that they are posted by bots.

  • Understand and establish brand-influencer alignment. The term refers to the practice of researching to ensure your partnership with an influencer will not feel forced or scripted. To ensure the same, brands must ensure that the influencer is targeting an audience that has similar attributes to the audience that you are targeting.

Moreover, it is also critical to ensure that the influencer you are planning to work with is someone that would genuinely use your product or service if they were not an influencer. If an influencer consistently produces content about luxury travel, and your brand enables budget travel, their audience or messaging is probably not aligned with your brand.

  • Make sure the influencers’ tone resonates with your brand. Every brand has a personality and a tone that they use in their messaging. Similarly, every influencer has a tone that they use in their content. 

Some are fun and peppy, others are inspiring, and some others simply inform. You need to gauge the tone used by different influencers when you research them. This way, you will be able to find an influencer whose personality matches the personality of your brand.

  • Give influencers creative freedom. When planning to partner with an influencer, you will have certain ideas of what the partnership should entail, and the influencers you will approach will also expect to get these details.

However, many brands take this further by developing entire scripts that they ask influencers to act out, taking away all the creative freedom from them. In most cases, this results in an inauthentic partnership that hurts your brand image, and the personal brand image of the influencer.

Instead, talk to the influencers you choose in terms of deliverables. Educate them about your product and what you want to achieve with a partnership with them and let them take the charge of producing content.

Remember that you are engaging an influencer to reach out to, and foster interest within their audience. They know what kind of content their audience likes. Give them the freedom to do what they are good at.

Make Support Available On Social Media

Offering customer service on social media is a low-cost way to delight your customers with prompt support on a platform that they use every day. Thanks to these attributes, offering customer service on social media is becoming more and more common for brands. Forrester predicts that by the end of this year, digital customer service interactions will increase by a whopping 40%.

Your competition is probably already offering support on social media. 59% of brands reply to Tweets concerning them in a matter of just 15 minutes.

Here are a few tips to get you started with providing customer service on social media platforms:

  • Be careful while choosing channels for customer support. Chances are that your different buyer personas use a mix of several social media channels. This can make the choice of choosing the channel where you provide support a bit confusing. While Twitter may seem like the popular choice for brands to offer support, it doesn’t have to be your choice if your audience is not present on Twitter. Instead, choose a platform where the major percentage of your primary audience hangs out.
  • Have dedicated branded social media handles for providing support. Give the control of this account to your customer support team as they would be able to handle customer queries much more efficiently than your marketing team.
  • Be proactive with providing self-service answers to common queries. Over time, you will probably be able to notice certain customer queries that are asked by a lot of customers. If this happens, treat this as a sign to add that question to your self-service portal or webpage. Another great idea is to create templates that answer the commonly asked questions. These will enable your customer service reps to ensure they are delivering quick responses to customer queries.
  • Know when to take conversations private. Solving customer queries in a publically visible conversation adds to your brand’s credibility and perceived dependability. However, remember that all conversations cannot be held on a public platform. Instances where a customer may have to share their booking ID or other personal details should be addressed in private messages. It is important that your support staff realizes the same and can decide which conversations should not be made public.
  • Use social listening tools to identify indirect customer service opportunities. When you start tracking the conversations around your brand, you may come across instances when a dissatisfied customer isn’t complaining to you but is complaining about your product or service. Social listening tools will enable you to get notified about such conversations so you can address them before they start hurting your brand’s image and perception.

Create A Community

Creating a group for your customers is a great idea to further delight them on social media platforms. These groups can be used for a variety of delightful activities such as:

  • Helping customers connect with other like-minded individuals that also love your product or service.
  • Providing quick and detailed answers to customer queries on a platform where only your other customers can see the question and the answer. This way, you can stop worrying about privacy issues and show your customers that you take customer service seriously.
  • Create exclusive events, training, or webinars to help your customers achieve more success with your product or service. Such undertakings will ensure that your customers are not using the group only for support queries but the Instagram thing that they can engage with.
  • Introduce special upselling offers and discounts to customers present in the group.
  • Collect direct and honest feedback from customers and use the information to improve your product or service.
  • Inform customers about updates and the addition of new features to your product or service. The same group can also be used to teach your customers how they can use the new features to their advantage.

Online communities thrive even more if they connect people that have something in common (besides being your customers). For instance, if you offer web design in Auckland, you can and may effectively develop websites for people across the world. However, chances are that a lot of your customers are local businesses from your area. So, you can create an exclusive community for them that they can use to connect with and benefit from each other.

The primary objective of creating such a group is not to further delight your paying customers. Let’s face it, you don’t really need a group to do most of the things that are mentioned above. However, making these ‘delighters’ available only through the group will add an element of exclusivity to your service or product. It will make your paying customers feel special and will create intrigue within your prospects.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, I would like to remind you that social media activities don’t have to be mutually exclusive to your regular marketing and advertising on social media. Instead, both can benefit from each other.

For instance, you can use your exclusive online community as an additional feature to make your product or service more desirable in your marketing posts or videos.

How is your brand currently using social media to delight customers? How has the experience been? What challenges have you faced? Tell me (and everyone else reading this article) all about them in the comment section below.


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How to Incorporate Influencers Into Your PR Strategy

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