If you are a full time worker, part time business owner, and over the age of 35, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed with the growing number of social media platforms circulating throughout the internet today. After spending years trying to figure out how to use Facebook to build your business, Instagram suddenly emerges as the new social media powerhouse, then Pinterest starts dabbling in e-commerce, and what exactly does Snapchat do besides make silly pictures? Sound familiar? Well you’re not alone! Rest assured, you don’t have to completely start over to be relevant in today’s social media marketing culture. All you need is a little bit of time to evaluate your current plan, look for weaknesses, and then insert any or all of the following tricks below to get your brand back on track and re-ignite your creative energy. The goal of this article is to provide a simple framework for the redistribution of your resources in order to target, the right people, in the right places, with the right materials and promotions. So let’s get started!
In today's technological landscape, choosing the right platform to promote your brand or service could ultimately determine its success or failure. According to Langstedt & Hunt (2017) Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are the most popular social networking sites. (p.316). Many of these platforms are built for a specific purpose and target a select demographic. It is critical that you research the characteristics of each social media platform in order to choose the best outlet to increase your reach, develop engagement, and experience a profitable success.
Developing a social media marketing strategy requires time, finesse, and creativity. Zhu & Chen (2015) discussed that much of the US population utilizes social media to connect with people whereas businesses are simply trying to sell goods and services (p. 335). The key is to develop informative content with a customized message that motivates behavior aimed at satisfying the consumer’s need. It’s a mouthful but incredibly effective at leading consumers to a sale by simply reinforcing how your product or service can solve a consumer’s problem through a variety of stories and images.
Today’s consumers are attracted to images that appeal to an ‘idealized identity’. and successful brands must promote themselves in a way that creates a sense of belonging and exclusivity for its members. Jones (2015) stated that people have an innate need to connect with a community and the psychological forces that contribute to deciding which group they choose are largely related to the idealized rewards of belonging to a specific community (p. 104). Therefore, your brand should represents your image, mission, culture, and exclusivity.
Lorenzon (2013) stated that 80% of social media engagement with businesses is related to customer service inquiries and 65% of people prefer online engagement over call centers (p. 33). Having employees ready to respond to customer inquiry promotes a high level of responsiveness where consumers feel valued, are willing keep the conversation active, and are more likely to promote your products and services online and offline.
Janicke-Bowles, Narayan, and Seng (2018) revealed that there is a positive relationship between image based social media, specifically Instagram, as well as higher levels of life satisfaction and trust for Facebook group members (p. 120). Brands that regularly deliver inspirational experiences will contribute to follower’s overall feelings of well-being, vitality, as well as increase the likelihood of future visits and content sharing.
Changing up the mix of your social media content can include "throw-back' pictures to create nostalgia, posting sneak peek photos about upcoming events or product releases can create buzzworthy content, a question of the week can generate valuable feedback, and sending personalized messages from the CEO helps to humanize the brand and keep it relatable. Dawson (2015) described the importance of storytelling in social media to emphasize shared meaning instead of a sales pitch (p. 56). Consistently experimenting with and generating new social media content will help to reveal the interests of your target audience and generate a sense of FOMO to keep them coming back for more.
“Businesses that do not innovate, die. Even the largest and most established brands must continue to be innovative as there are always newer and more agile start-ups ready to disrupt the marketplace” (Weber, 2013, p. 13). Brands can increase their reach when they ask the question, “what can we do better” or create a contest for making improvements to their current product portfolio. Companies like Starbucks, P&G, and Vitamin Water have all found success by providing a space for customers to provide feedback and suggest changes to their products. Customers feel valued when they know their opinion matters. By encouraging innovation and co-creation, a brand can increase engagement, reach, loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
Whether you’re saying thank you to your first customer online or sharing a picture of your 10,000th customer, sharing thoughtful words and personal images generates sentiment and authenticity. It also provides the opportunity for brand exposure to the 200+ followers of the loyal customer featured in the photo as they are encouraged to share or retweet the post to their personal social media feed. Outside of sharing sentimental content, brands can also initiate consumer sharing behaviors through referral programs, reward points, and content sharing contests on social media. Hefner et al (2016) described the idea of sharing information and resources as a sharing economy. When consumers share thoughts and reviews of purchased products online, other consumers are more likely to use the product as well (p. 197).
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