Let’s think pre-COVID times: You throw a party at your house. Lots of people show up. But if they all just sit there, not talking, or laughing, or connecting with each other, it really isn’t a great party. What makes it a success—and most memorable for guests—is engagement. It’s the same with social media: It doesn’t matter how many followers you have; the measure of social media success is an engaged audience, not merely a big one.
Here are a few ideas that you can employ to tweak your current social media effort to inspire a more engaged brand following:
Refine your plan. Research shows that more than 85% of Gen Z discover new products through social media, and that 9 out of 10 Millennials use social media daily (Bluecore). Clearly, social has to be part of your marketing program. But which channels should you focus on?
Start by studying how you can maximize social for marketing and advertising: Where do your customers spend their time? Which functions do they use? Being on multiple social platforms is great, but you don’t have to be on all of them. Choose carefully those channels that resonate with your audience/customers and then curate your branded content. Be sure that you are engaging, not selling: Think conversation not broadcast and watch the connections happen in an organic way.
Use #hashtags. Did you realize that 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded? According to an Omnicore study, posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement—and they also reinforce brand awareness. By simply asking your customers to post about their recent purchase or experience and use a branded hashtag, you can extend your reach to their followers. The use of branded hashtags for specific campaigns and ads can also help you find user-generated content easier. With these, you can turn your loyal customers into brand ambassadors, which in turn, can boost your brand exposure and trust among their peers and followers.
In addition to engaging customers, hashtags can also be used to gauge the pulse of your consumers, which makes it easier to formulate a plan for how to best approach them. Monitoring hashtags can also provide insight about how your individual products (or services, or events) are impacting your customers: Which are gaining more traction? Which start strong and fizzle? Use the data to redirect your marketing plan/budget.
Create an online community. We all like to feel included. By creating an online community, you provide your customers a place where they not only feel connected to your brand, but also to other like-minded individuals. These participatory “communities” are like a casual get-togethers, where your customers can interact with each other and create deeper relationships between themselves, and your brand.
According to CMA, 37% of shoppers stick with companies because of online communities. By engaging and including your customer in a community—allowing them to participate in discussions about your brand—you create instant transparency which leads to greater brand trust and reinforces brand loyalty.
That trust leads to a bottom-line boost: A MarTech study revealed that 2 out of 3 brands with online communities experienced a revenue increase thanks to strong community engagement. Aside from boosting retention, online communities can help you better understand the wants and needs of your customers, which allows you to adjust your product/service offerings accordingly.
These are just a few simple ways you can adjust your existing social media marketing plan to better connect and engage with your customers. If you’re interested in discussing your brand’s social media strategy, connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.