Social media is a fantastic opportunity for brands to engage with their customers, and many have already begun to take advantage of this. With so many brands on social media, it can be difficult to compete, especially if your budget and resources are low. However, getting consumer’s attention doesn’t need to be expensive – simply having an interesting conversation online can be a great way to encourage engagement.
In order to get your message across effectively, you need to choose the right platform for your target audience, otherwise you risk being ignored. While Facebook tends to capture the market with its large membership, it isn’t always the right choice. If you are targeting a specific niche, for example, it may well be worth exploring different social avenues. Lifestyle, fashion and food-based businesses tend to have a lot of success on visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, whereas B2B business will have more success building a community on LinkedIn through groups.
If your company has the resources, spread yourself across a number of platforms where your customers are engaging within their communities. For example, many fashion bloggers have an Instagram and Facebook account to increase engagement. Instagram is where bloggers feature their ‘outfit of the day’ while Facebook or Twitter is where they tend to update their readers on their latest fashion posts. For a fashion-based client, then, it would be beneficial to have a presence on both platforms. If a blogger is wearing your brand’s clothing, they are likely to tag you in their post, bringing attention to your brand.
It is important to be as human as possible over social media; after all, you are engaging real people in a real conversation. Measure your tone against conversations that you might have with your friends – if it sounds too formal, it’s probably not suitable for social media. The tone of your conversations with customers and the message you send out can also help to really showcase your brand’s personality.
When it comes to setting your tone, you need to take an open approach and reflect your company’s values and brand image. Think about what sets you apart from the rest of your market, and the culture and ethos of your company. Setting a tone will help to humanise your brand and allow you to take part in natural conversations, making you relatable to your customers.
ASOS Global Social Media Manager, Sedge Beswick explains how the company has fun on social but also positions themselves as an authoritative figure in the fashion world:
“At ASOS we are obsessed with finding out what appeals to our ‘20 something audience’ so we can make sure our tone is truly engaging. We aim to be witty, enthusiastic and sometimes when it comes to fashion advice, authoritative, as this is what our audience responds to.”
Quality over Quantity
The customer should come first in everything you do. If you follow that rule it’s hard to go wrong. It’s easy to over-promote, so make sure that your posts are relatable and the subject of your conversation is timely. At ASOS, for example, they talked about the ten most fashionable bunnies during the Easter weekend. This was topical, encouraged conversation, and also helped to promote their fashion news section. Calls to action also help to entice conversation and get people interested in what your company does.
Mashable recently revealed that visual content tends to be more effective than written content, reporting that “in a study of the top 10 brands on Facebook, users liked photos twice as often as text updates. And they shared videos 12 times more than photo and text posts combined.” Experts are claiming that visual content will have a dominant presence in 2014, as visuals are becoming easier to create, are cost effective and people are more likely to engage with the brand.
This doesn’t mean you should completely ignore written content though. UK mobile provider Tesco Mobile and a customer had a hilarious debate which cleverly ended up involving major UK food brands such as Yorkshire Tea, Jaffa Cakes and Cadbury, see conversation here.
Many top brands are using Twitter as a customer service tool to help meet the demand of customers wanting to get an immediate reply to their problems. Indeed, Business Insider Australia found that “32% of top brands now have dedicated customer service accounts (separate from their main account) on Twitter, compared to only 23% who did so in December 2012.”
On social media everything is transparent so it is important that you address any issues your followers have. If someone is complaining about your brand, take this opportunity to change their perception. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a lot of people forget there is a human replying to them. A simple response can instantly help to diffuse a situation and create a friendlier tone within conversation.
So, the big three:
- Spread yourself across the sites your audience engage with.
- Create content that is interesting; don’t just self-promote.
- Respond personally and in a timely fashion.
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- Engaging Effectively with your Audience: Hot Tips from ASOS - May 19, 2014