Social media matters. And not just for finding cat videos, sharing memes, and staying up-to-date on celebrities’ relationships.
Brands need to have a presence on social. Finding the channels your audience uses and sharing content that interests and informs them is a key part of business’ communications plans.
Similar to a website, social media channels allow brands to communicate with their audience and share information about their brand. Companies should have a knowledgeable staff managing the content and providing prompt responses to followers.
Brands approach social media with all sorts of different strategies and tactics. It’s worthwhile to study some of these examples to inspire future social planning.
Why does social actually matter?
Social media use, both for consumers and for brands, has exploded in recent years.
As of a 2017 report, there were 2.56 billion mobile social media users and one million new active mobile users were joining every day. With this massive number of consumers online, brands can’t afford to ignore them.
Social media offers an accessible channel for connecting with huge populations of people. These channels give brands the opportunity to communicate with their existing base of customers and reach new customers who may have never heard of them without this easy-to-access platform.
Getting consumers to follow corporate channels also has business advantages. Those who follow companies on social media are more likely to do business with them, especially if they have a positive interaction with the brand on social media.
Additionally, positive social engagement can lead to more customers. Seventy-one percent of people who have a positive interaction with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that company to others.
The social media manager
As a result of the expansion of social media use, jobs in social media have also expanded in recent years. CNNMoney’s 100 Best Jobs in America list for 2017 predicted a nine percent increase in 10-year job growth for Social Media Managers, which landed 42 on the list.
Brands need experienced communicators to produce engaging content, manage crises, and interact with customers. A Social Media Manager position often blends the responsibilities of a PR professional, marketer, and customer service representative.
Brands, especially global brands, rely on social media staff to respond to posts from customers with questions, concerns, or complaints. Social platforms allow social staff to directly respond with quick, helpful answers, defusing consumers’ frustrations and building trust in the brand.
Of course, social manager jobs involve communications tasks often associated with marketing and PR. Their job involves building relationships with their audience by posting announcements about the company and interesting content that users will be compelled to engage with, a classic PR responsibility. Additionally, they post information about promotions and their products or services, typical marketing activities.
How are brands succeeding with social media?
Evidently, social media matters to brands and their overall communications plan. So how should brands approach social media? What approaches best resonate with audiences?
Brands have a whole variety of different options for managing social media, often blending multiple approaches to create a successful, interesting account.
Consider these three elements of well-executed social tactics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Good storytelling
If you have a Facebook account, there are some things you can bet on seeing almost every time you log in: someone will be tagged in a meme, you’ll see a cooking video featuring a recipe that is way harder to make than that time lapse video will have you believe, and you’ll see a liked or reposted photo from Humans of New York.
With more than 18 million likes, this page rose to prominence by sharing photos of people accompanied by a personal story in the caption. This page, which initially started as a photography project aiming to capture photos of 10,000 New Yorkers, has expanded to feature stories from people spanning 20 countries.
This page succeeds because its formula is simple and consistent. A variety of themes appear in the stories and the page highlights people from diverse background, fostering a sense of community and understanding. The stories range from sad to inspiring to ordinary, but they all encourage empathy and understanding for a stranger. Thousands of users comment on each post, often relating to the stories or sharing a positive message.
This page illustrates the power of a good story. Your audience doesn’t want to watch or read stats and facts about your company or its products and services. Instead, they want to hear about how you’ve impacted your consumers’ lives.
- Unique brand voice
B2C brands, especially those in the food industry, have changed how brands post and interact with their audiences online, specifically on Twitter.
This approach doesn’t always resonate well; brands are sometimes criticized for imitating internet culture without the authenticity of the average social user.
But when it’s done well, it’s really done well. Turn your attention to the most underrated corporate channel online right now: Pop-Tarts.
In the last month alone, they’ve made a new product announcement that doubled as a dig at IHOP’s recent name change, mocked a customer who dressed their Pop-Tart with Old Bay, and thanked their fans and also their haters for their new Twitter emoji.
Basically, follow them immediately.
Pop-Tarts illustrates why a unique, and in their case snarky, voice works on social media. It fits in among the rest of Twitter’s content and doesn’t feel forced. This approach gets fans to laugh, which stimulates genuine engagement and interest in the brand.
- Beautiful content
Visuals are a key part of content plans, especially on social media. Tweets containing visuals are retweeted 150 percent more than those without, and Facebook posts containing visuals have 2.3 times more engagement than posts lacking visuals.
Visuals are especially important, of course, on Instagram. With one billion active users as of June 2018, it’s important for brands to consider how this platform can contribute to a successful social plan.
One brand producing and reposting excellent content? Starbucks. The global coffee brand has cultivated a feed featuring their drinks, sandwiches, and baked treats.
Each posted photo has a similar filter choice, subject, and perspective, giving the feed a consistent feel. They post similar content on the same day of the week each week, further contributing to the consistent composition of their feed.
As a bonus, they also repost user-generated content often, working to build stronger relationships with their audience.
Regardless of the platforms your brand uses, it’s important to keep these tactics in mind. A well-crafted social strategy, featuring good storytelling, a unique voice, and beautiful visuals is sure to generate positive engagement, brand awareness, and trust with your target audience.