Social media influencers, as the term implies, are entities that have some sort of influence or persuasive power on online audiences. This is achieved through amplifying content via various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Accounts with large followings are paid to promote brands via their posts on these platforms.
While the concept of brand ambassadors or endorsers is not new, what makes social media amplifiers different is that you don’t have to be rich or famous to become one – you just need to have a substantial audience base. However, a big account is not all it takes. Here’s a short crash course on the world of social media amplification.
What is Social Media Influence?
Social Media influence or amplification takes place when content is shared online within (and across) social media platforms. This includes both paid and unpaid (organic) sharing by stakeholders like your employees, your customers and your online audience. It also includes sharing by influencers such celebrities who may not even use your product or service but are paid to promote your brand online.
Types of Social Media Influence or Amplification
There are many categories and sub-categories of influencers online, but we will look at the three main types of amplification, namely: Social Media Influencers, Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification.
Social Media Influencers
The most well-known type of social media influence is endorsement by celebrities or people who are in the public eye. These include actors, musicians, sports stars, politicians, prominent business people, well-known thought leaders and other public personalities. Notable celebrity influencers include former First Lady Michelle Obama and pop sensation Selena Gomez. But, unlike most traditional brand endorsement, fame alone is not enough to make you a social media influencer. Celebrity or not, you still need a large online audience to your name. Conversely, if you are not well-known but you have a substantial online following, you can earn yourself “celebrity” status on social media purely due to your audience size. Some social media users are even “anonymous” yet get paid to endorse products or services. How is this so? Because it’s all about leveraging off the existing relationship between the influencer and their (sizeable) audience.
Micro-influencers are another type of social media advocacy. These are accounts that may not be huge but have a significant following within a certain industry or niche market. For instance, consider a food blogger that has an audience of a few thousand people. While this may not seem much in comparison to the major players, such a person has the potential to make a tangible impact within a given market. For example, by posting about the quality of food and service at a specific restaurant.
Employee Amplification (also known as Employee Advocacy) is a powerful yet somewhat untapped form of social media influence. It refers to harnessing the endorsement value and online presence of key employees. It starts with positioning your expert staff members as thought-leaders and trusted advisors within their field. The employees then act as passionate and knowledgeable brand ambassadors through their posts on their personal accounts, positioning the business in a positive light. Not only does this boost desired public sentiment for the brand and the employee, but it also promotes extensive organic (free) audience reach through the employee’s personal audience as users are more likely to share content received via their own network than a business page. In fact, statistics show that company-based messaging reach is 561% higher when shared by employees as opposed to the business itself! (www.falcon.io). Click to read more on Employee Amplification.
We all know the importance of customer service, but the growth of social media has now exponentially increased the impact it can have on businesses. Your customers also have the potential to be brand ambassadors and influencers when it comes to your products and services. Brands can make the most of this opportunity by ensuring that positive customer experience is at the core of all business activities. Excellent business offerings, engaging social media content and responsive client-centric service is likely to result in your brand receiving glowing recommendations online. Think about personal experiences – if a business impresses with its quality of service or products, the user is more likely to talk about the experience with friends and family. The same applies to their online community. Only when it comes to social media, its word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Not only is it great for promoting positive brand affinity, it also acts as free advertising through authentic client endorsement.
Implementing an amplification strategy
Navigating the social media influencer landscape can be tricky. Here are some points to keep in mind for a successful campaign:
Creating great customer experience at all touchpoints (through advertising, in-store and especially social media activities) can promote loyalty and affinity for the brand. This then drives customer endorsement online.
Social media posts should be highly customer-centric and hold some sort of value for the user, such as informative, intriguing, attractive and high-quality content. This promotes customer engagement and sharing of the content – resulting in increased organic reach. Content should also be optimised for each platform as well as for mobile viewing to increase engagement and share potential. Responsiveness and personable communication are crucial elements of good customer service as well.
While both Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification are driven by the users’ loyalty and passion for the brand, a little incentive doesn’t hurt. Employees can be incentivised (financially or otherwise) to publish posts about the business on their personal networks. Customers can also be encouraged to engage and share through polls, giveaways and rewards (such as accessing online resources).
Type of Influencer
Choose the type of influencer based on their strengths and how well it meets your objectives. For example, social media advocates like celebrities have extensive reach as well as influence over their audience. Micro-influencers can be highly valuable due to their niche (and usually highly-engaged) audience. Employee advocacy is an excellent way to position the brand and its employees as industry thought-leaders. And your customers can act as (unpaid) brand ambassadors that promote your business through their genuine love for the products and service you offer.
Influencer Vetting & Content
When using the services of an influencer, you need to partner with people that are credible and genuinely resonate with your brand. You also need to do thorough due diligence to ensure that their audience consists of real, engaging human beings (as opposed to a bought audiences or bots). You are, after all, paying them based on the number of people a post from them is estimated to reach.
Also, it’s not as simple as just telling the influencer the product or service to pitch – you need to craft the actual post content in terms of your objective or, at the least, review and approve content prior to publishing. The digital community is a discerning bunch, so make sure your content has a level of authenticity. It’s also imperative that the influencer does not post messaging from competitors or publish contradictory posts (for example, tweeting about how amazing your restaurant’s steak is, and then the very next day mentioning her vegan lifestyle).
Brands can send their employees on courses such as Personal Branding and Employee Amplification training to aid in positioning staff and executives as thought-leaders. Business decision-makers can also be equipped with knowledge regarding online risk mitigation and understanding social media data metrics – both of which are valuable when it comes to social media amplification. Beyond training, there are software systems that can be implemented to assist employees with resources, such as pre-approved content, from the company they work for. This improves efficacy of the content and cuts down on time taken to create content.
While there are pros and cons to social media influencers, the one thing that’s undeniable is the sheer impact it has on the business and consumer landscapes. And whether you “like” it or “unlike” it, it is certainly here to stay 😊.
Social Media 101 assists businesses in driving online influence, whether that be improving customer sentiment or sourcing, vetting and managing macro and micro influencers. We also offer training for: employee amplification, creating content and implementing software tools for an employee advocacy programme. Get in touch if your business needs influence and amplification. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
Firstly, to clarify, a website is important for every organisation, across all business types and industries. But in isolation, a business website is just not enough when it comes to online visibility for brands. Furthermore, a website alone is not able to drive business objectives. Changing consumer behaviour and evolving markets dictate that businesses need a multi-point strategy to succeed in the current landscape. In this article, we explain why a website should not be your only online platform. Instead, we propose an integrated approach, with social media forming a central part of your digital strategy.
WHY A WEBSITE ALONE IS NO LONGER ENOUGH
In a highly competitive environment, the brands that win are those that best meet customer needs and wants. As these change, so should business activities. Recent developments such as millennials entering the market and increased digitisation resulted in a changed consumer base. Characteristics of this evolved market include a change in:
Customer demands: Customers expect brands to be client-focused. These demands include convenience, responsiveness, personalisation, user-value and relevance. Customer experience is based on how well these needs are met.
Purchasing behaviour: Purchasing decisions are increasingly being based on the above-mentioned customer-centric values. As a result, improving customer experience has become a primary business objective globally.
Digitisation: Increasing use of digitisation by both businesses and consumers have changed the commercial landscape. This includes the rising use of e-commerce, mobile, social media and other technologies.
Business Trends: Trends indicate a growth in the customer experience approach, and a decrease in disruptive marketing tactics (such as unsolicited calls and untargeted messaging).
Based on the above, it is evident that a business website alone simply does not satisfy present customer needs or brand objectives. Fortunately, you can overcome these shortfalls by incorporating social media into your business strategy.
SOCIAL MEDIA AS PART OF YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY
In terms of customer satisfaction, market trends, business objectives and overall brand growth, social media offers a wealth of benefits over a website alone. Such customer experience and business benefits provided by social media include:
- Business Visibility & Exposure: Your website being seen depends on users finding it themselves. This means they either have to explicitly search for it, or it needs to show up on search engine results. Even with SEO optimisation, the search phrase used has to match the wording on your website. This means only a small percentage of users will come across your website. And what’s the point of having an awesome website if no one sees it? However, you can use social media to drive traffic to your website. You can even customise posts so each one links to a specified landing page to showcase different elements e.g. a list of your services or your contact page.
- Outbound & Inbound Customer Targeting: Again, as a website relies on inbound traffic, only people actively searching for your brand or product will potentially become customers. Social media, on the other hand, allows you to find and target your core demographic. Messaging is placed in front of your selected audience, even if they have never heard of your brand. In addition, social media targeting uses advanced data and algorithms to determine other users that are likely to be interested in your business offering. This promotes customer growth and could even reveal new untapped customer groups.
- Sales: Social media can be used to drive online sales – both directly via a social platform, as well as by channeling traffic to your website. It can also be used to generate in-store sales through marketing and advertising messages. Studies show that a multiple-touchpoint approach is effective in driving sales, and social media is an integral part of the client journey. It also supports the non-linear way in which content is consumed – its about speaking to the right person at the right time with the right message. Ads on social media play a huge part in influencing purchasing decisions. In fact, statistics show that 90% of shoppers use social media to research products and services as part of purchase decision-making (Sprout.com). In terms of a basic marketing rule of thumb, 6-8 touchpoints are required to convert a sale. Social media speeds up this process, and as a result, can shorten the entire sales cycle for businesses.
- Client-focused approach: Social media is customer-centric by nature, and able to achieve customer experience goals. For example, by communicating directly with clients when it comes to customer service tasks, or publishing value-rich content such as articles or tips. This enhances customer satisfaction and leads to an increase in both sales and client retention.
- Location & Convenience: Social media is where your customers are – and therefore where you should be. It is where consumers research brands, consume content and even make purchases. Customers also prefer to interact with businesses via social media when it comes to queries and customer service requirements. Consumer preference of using mobile devices for online activity makes social media a convenient option as it is highly optimised for mobile.
- Relevant content: Unlike website content which is quite generalised, social media allows you to send targeted information to relevant market segments. For example, marketing your men’s range to men, and women’s range to women. Post links can be used to direct users to the related section of your website instead of them having to navigate. When needed, social media content can be adjusted with ease to ensure constant relevancy. Making changes to website content is a less viable process.
To summarise, a static website alone does little to aid in marketing, customer satisfaction or business goals. On its own, it is just not enough for online visibility. However, by integrating it with social media activities, you can develop a strategy that meets both client demands and brand objectives. Social media also provides data and insight into customer behaviour, promoting informed business decision-making. The convenience, responsiveness and value-rich approach of social media position the business as being client-centric. And as customer behaviour indicates, a positive image boosts brand affinity and, ultimately, sales. Coupled with its advanced marketing and business functionality, social media is vital for brand visibility and growth.
Ready to take your digital strategy to the next level? CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
What is the function of social media when it comes to business? If you answered, “it’s an advertising platform”, you are right….. and wrong. While one key role is marketing, social media is actually equipped to underpin the complete customer journey. In this article, we are going to look at these functions when it comes to sales in particular. Below is an outline of how social media can support your entire sales funnel.
Social Media & Sales Funnel Functions
While specific sales steps vary from business to business, we look at the main considerations that form part of a basic sales funnel:
Social media plays a crucial role when it comes to marketing, but it should not be used as an “online billboard”. Instead, it should be used to educate and inform the audience. Examples are showcasing unique selling points or providing valuable information through article content.
As both the number of consumers and time spent on social media platforms are increasing exponentially, it is the obvious choice when it comes to brand awareness. But it’s not just the sheer audience reach that makes it so powerful for business. It’s the ability to target your core demographic – to an impressive extent. In addition to audience-based targeting, you can also customise your campaign to suit your primary campaign or business objective(s).
Targeted advertising means that your brand is placed in front of selected audiences on their devices (cell phone, tablet, computer) when they are next active on the platform. Which means that you don’t have to rely on the client finding you themselves (via an online search, for example) – you find THEM. How’s that for brand awareness generation?
Stat: 52% of survey respondents had discovered a new retail product on Facebook that they were interested in buying, rising to 78% in the 18-34 year group. (blog.hootsuite.com)
Social media is excellently suited to drive interest in products and services through the type of content published. It allows for displaying aspects of the business that traditional media isn’t able to. This includes real-time updates (e.g. promoting lunch-time special specifically at lunch time), social responsibility projects, online articles, tips and advice. It also supports different media types including images, text and video content that can be used interchangeably and even combined. This keeps the recipient interested and engaged – two key elements to attract and retain audiences.
Well crafted, high-quality content leads to improved brand affinity. Businesses are able to show their “character” and what they are all about. This makes them more personable, and marketing messages sent are likely to be received more favourable. An important factor to remember is that content should be customer-centric. People are interested in brands that are interested in them. And strategic content does just this, while also maintaining brand objectives. Win-win for everyone.
Stat: Today, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. And decision makers consume at least 5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (www.superoffice.com)
Social media is where consumers interact with their friends and family, as well as brands. Many decisions are influenced by the content they are exposed to. This includes actual marketing messages from businesses, as well as what other people are saying about a brand.
The multi-step approach of social media (educate, inform, market) plays a major role when it comes to impacting decision-making. Even in-store purchases are influenced by posts seen on social media first. Customer service via social media also promotes sales as potential clients can get quick, personal feedback to questions or concerns (e.g. stockists, specifications, use etc).
Consistent useful, relevant, well-structured content can position the brand as a thought-leader or trusted advisor in their industry. The use of employee advocacy and social media influencers can also be pivotal in brand positioning. Online influencers, including a brand’s own clients and fans, are forms of word-of-mouth marketing that guide purchasing decisions. Along with great customer service, having excellent content and social media endorsers also contribute to total customer experience.
Stat: 57% of consumers say social media influences their shopping, led by Facebook at 44%. (www.wordstream.com)
And…. action! The above strategies all come together to persuade the user to take action. Social media has built-in options for different call-to-actions. These include driving online-based activities like promoting website traffic or direct purchases, as well as influencing offline actions like in-store visits. CTA messaging also can be customised to suit each businesses’ sales objectives.
Stat: Facebook is the preferred social platform of supermarket shoppers—89% use (www.wordstream.com)
And for those of you who think this is not for you because you have human sales consultants, think again. Social media can also be used for lead generation as well. Different strategies can be employed dependent on your business objectives and market, resulting in high-quality, up-to-date leads that your sales team can use to close the deal.
The best part is that social media provides accurate statistics that provide insight into the performance of activities. This includes actual social media stats (e.g. online conversions), as well as linking a business’s sales figures to social media activities to gauge purchase decision attribution. It gives you a snapshot of which activities result in the highest sales, providing insight for future activities.
Stat: Social media is fast becoming the go-to channel for sales people to find new prospects and reach their sales targets. In fact, 90% of top performing sales people now use social media as part of their sales strategy. (business.linkedin.com)
Social media has the tools, functionality, versatility and ability to support all phases of your sales cycle. When implemented correctly, it has the potential to increase sales results and return on investment. If you do not have the required expertise and resources within your business, consider consulting a social media specialist. It is worth the investment if the result is improved sales figures. Especially since social media strategists don’t just focus on once-off purchases, but on long-term relationships required for customer retention and repeat business.
After all, when it comes to business success, the bottom line is….. well, the bottom line.
Want to give your sales figures a boost? Make the call – contact Social Media 101 now. CLICK HERE to get in touch
Social Media Employee Amplification is one of the three main categories of social media advocacy marketing. The other two categories are influencer marketing and customer endorsement. Influencer marketing relates to promotion by traditional brand ambassadors like celebrities or affluent personalities. More recently, social media accounts with a large follower base have been added as influential entities. Customer endorsement refers to positive public commentary by clients and is considered word-of-mouth marketing.
This article focuses on the third and most intriguing form of advocacy, namely employee amplification. We will explain what this concept means, what the benefits to using it are, and highlight key considerations for implementation.
What is Social Media Employee Amplification?
In short, this approach centres on harnessing the power of your staff as brand ambassadors for your organisation. The process itself involves tapping into the value offered by employees through social media activities. This is done by encouraging staff members to publish or share brand messaging on their personal social media pages. The concept of employee amplification certainly adds a whole new dimension to the term “human resources”…..
“76% of survey participants said they were more likely to trust content shared
by their network (people they know) versus content shared by brands.” (Adweek)
Who should use employee amplification?
Theoretically, any brand could use this technique, regardless of organisation size or business industry. But success of employee amplification hinges on how your staff feel about the brand. Are they passionate about it? Are they proud to be associated with it? Do they believe in the service or product offering? The more loyal an employee is, the more authentic their endorsement will be. No staff member should be forced to publicly support their employer via their personal platforms if they are not keen to do so. Unhappy or unwilling individuals are likely to cause more harm than good.
“79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after
implementing a formal employee advocacy program.
65% reported increased brand recognition.” (Hinge Marketing)
Benefits of Employee Amplification
Reach & Exposure: Earlier is year, Facebook made a change to its algorithm that had a major impact for business pages on the platform (click here to read more). The change meant that users see more posts from their friends rather than business pages, drastically reducing organic reach by brands. Employee amplification means that you can counter-act this change as content shared by staff will not have the same restrictions as posts shared by your business page.
Using business networking platform LinkedIn as part of an Employee Amplification strategy is also a great way to gain exposure via employees’ professional networks. The platform has a viral quality to their algorithms in that every post that a user likes, comments or shares is directed to their contacts timeline. Content shared by users has a generally much wider reaching when compared to a business’s own page.
Organic reach: As mentioned above, posts shared by employees will have organic (free) reach. Such exposure would result in better social media figures that are unlikely to be achieved via any other unpaid method. It is therefore a financially beneficial technique.
Credibility & Engagement: Content shared by a staff member is largely seen by people that know the person thus adding a level of credibility to the message. Posts by network contacts will also have a higher engagement percentage (views, likes, shares, comments) than those sent directly from the brand’s account.
Business & Marketing: Other tangible benefits include increased sales, improved brand awareness and affinity, and a higher level of consumer trust in the brand. Not only do these elements positively impact bottom line objectives, but also support other company activities like recruitment due to favourable positioning.
“Company branded messages reach 561% further when
shared by employees versus branded.” (www.postbeyond.com)
Ways to promote staff support & activity success
Position relevant/key employees as thought leaders and trusted advisors. This not only impacts the brand positively, but also helps elevate employees’ personal brands. For certain companies, this could also lead to more business. For example, a high-level or high-involvement sale often relies heavily on the relationship between sales consultant and potential client. As most people research new acquaintances online, the more impressive; credible and trusted the brand’s employees look, the higher the possibility of closing the deal.
Include value-rich content for users: Centre messaging should on interesting or useful content such as articles or tips. If you need to send out direct marketing posts, incorporate some sort of value for the recipient, such as a great offer or valuable resource.
Craft posts in a way that makes staff want to share it with their audience. Again, valuable and interesting content is key. This includes posts shared directly from the brand’s page, as well as employee-generated content. Visually appealing, good quality content is imperative to encourage staff advocacy.
Make the process as simple as possible. This means providing them with suitable high-quality, correctly sized images. Written content for posts can be provided as well should certain employees prefer a less time-consuming option.
“33% of employees agreed that relevant content would
encourage them to share.” (postbeyond.com)
Employee Amplification Strategy & Risk Mitigation Tips
Start by getting staff trained on social media fundamentals. Training will provide them with a basic knowledge of social media etiquette (such as do’s and don’ts), as well as best practices per platform. This upskills and empowers staff. It also ensures a level of quality when it comes to social media activities. These skills will benefit them in both in their personal and professional capacities.
Have a social media policy in place to mitigate potential risk. This is an imperative requirement that needs to be in place before employee amplification activities start. It provides staff with rules to abide by and sets out company recourse if they fail to do so (including possible legal action). It is best to consult a legal expert knowledgeable on the social media legal landscape for advice.
Implement an internal social media procedure. Structure a plan that includes an approval process so that all content is screened prior to publishing. Each participating employee’s personal accounts should also be screened before they share any company posts. This will prevent the brand from unintentionally associating themselves with undesirable viewpoints that the employee may have on their page (such as prejudicial or controversial content).
Offer employee incentives. While you may be fortunate enough to have staff that are happy to share brand messaging out of sheer loyalty, use incentives as effective motivators. Whether you measure trackable data (e.g. clicks to website) or engagement statistics (such as comments, shares and likes), the choice is yours. You can also have specific rewards for a certain outcome, such as lead generation or recruitment referrals. You are likely to find quite quickly that the value gained from leveraging off staff resources far outweigh the incentive expense.
“31% of high-growth firms have a formalized employee
advocacy program.” (Hinge Marketing)
Social Media Employee Amplification is an under-utilized method that could open up vast opportunities for your organisation. However, it is a technique that requires planning, research and infrastructure before implementation. Statistics clearly reflect that the effort and resources required are a viable investment with attractive returns. In this context, being a statistic is a good thing – so get started now!
Need assistance with employee amplification? We can help with:
- Social media training workshops (employee amplification, personal branding, social media etiquette, how to understand and analyse data)
- Structuring customised social media policy and procedure documents
- Screening employee social media platforms
- Complete content and platform management
- Influencer marketing
…..and much more.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
The economic climate is tough to navigate in general, but when it comes to businesses with a niche market base, there are even more challenges to face.
One major issue is marketing. Most traditional methods are based on advertising to mass audiences, which does not suit brands that service a niche client base only. Such specialist companies have largely come to accept that these kinds of difficulties come with the territory….….
….… but what if there was a solution that could be fully customised to suit each organisation’s unique requirements and objectives? One that is both cost-effective and result-driven?
If this sounds good to you, keep reading – it gets even better…
Challenges Faced by Niche Brands
Organisations that service a very small consumer market are known as “niche” brands. Their small market size could be as a result of a limited consumer demand for their business offering, for instance. A company that offers a highly specialised product or service is an example of such a niche brand. Most business-to-business (B2B) based organisations, as well, fall into this category.
While marketing is important for all businesses, the small consumer bases that these companies service makes it even more crucial to connect to right audiences. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, most advertising methods focus on mass communication to a generalised audience. As only a small percentage of message recipients are relevant to a niche company, the result is excessive wastage of investment and low returns.
Other more targeted options are print ads in industry-specific publications or exhibition stands at trade shows. However, these techniques are expensive and yield poor results. Not to mention they grow increasingly outdated as market trends progress.
The bottom line is that traditional marketing methods have never been effective when it comes to niche audiences. But as market minorities, specialist brands have not had much choice but to use the options available, as unsuitable as they were. Until now…… (I told you this was going to be good)
Social Media as a Marketing Solution for Niche Brands
At this point, you may be thinking, “why the big build-up – everyone knows about social media”. BUT, do you, as a niche brand, fully understand what this type of media offers you?
Let us explain why we are so excited about the capabilities of social media when it comes to niche brands. Arguable, niche brands have the most to gain by transitioning from solely traditional media to social media marketing. This is because such brands experience the most wastage when using mass promotional methods (versus more mainstream brands). The highly customisable nature of social media allows you to substantially reduce wastage, and therefore increase return on investment. But it’s not just a financially beneficial option – it opens up a wealth of information, insight and audience tools that promote overall business growth.
Key social media benefits for Niche Brands
Below, we have listed a few of the core characteristics of social media that make it the ideal solution for niche and B2B brands. We also provide practical examples of how each of these factors can be used for tangible business benefit:
Fully customisable and agile:
Social media offers highly customisable options – meaning that niche companies are able to tailor functions to suit their needs. This relates to a range of factors, including: targeting different audience segments, options regarding spend per message, control over campaign duration and growing a client base.
Targeting on social media supports detailed, multi-level criteria that can be used to streamline audiences. For example, you can specify geographic regions, then restrict to an age group within these areas and further target based on specific interest (such as a sport or activity). The result is a high quality, custom target group.
If you have different audiences within your market, you are able to customised messaging to suit each group. Let’s say your business sells to both end-user customers as well as other businesses. You can advertise a product to B2B clients with technical info and specs, and then promote the same product to consumers with details of where they can purchase.
With a niche market, customer engagement is even more important. These client bases are minority groups sharing something in common, and therefore they relate to each other more in comparison to mass market bases. Common ground could be due to shared interests, knowledge, experience or business activity. Social media allows you to connect with relevant people and tap into their expertise and experience to improve your business. It also gives fans a way to connect to people they relate to, providing an enhanced customer experience.
Billed for actual exposure:
Paid advertising on platforms like Facebook is based on actual message exposure (as opposed to traditional media platforms that cannot provide data in terms of views). This means you only pay for content that appears on a user’s news feed. In addition to the financial benefits, this provides a realistic indication of your online market size based on audience response.
High-involvement: expensive or technical
Some sales are considered high-involvement purchases. This could be due to their pricing or complicated application. Social media campaigns provide a way to market these. For instance, educating the audience on functions and benefits first, and thereafter driving sales. Again, this is a great approach for B2B or technical products. Social media platforms are also a viable and practical way to generate leads for your technical sales team.
Social media is an inexpensive, effective method that provides high returns and measurable results. In a niche market, a well planned and executed platform could give you a competitive edge based on customer loyalty, as well as allow you to tap into new markets. It is definitely a winning option for B2B and niche-based brands.
For more information on how to make social media work for your niche business,
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
How agile is your marketing strategy?
Hmmm, putting you on the spot with this one, are we?
If this is a question you have never asked yourself before, you are not alone. The term “agility” is not generally at the top of the agenda when marketing teams sit down to meet. But we are here to explain why your marketing plan should, in fact, be agile. We will also provide you with information on how to incorporate agility into your existing brand strategy, as well as highlight key benefits of doing so.
Why do marketing strategies need to be agile?
When we talk about agility, we are referring to the adaptability and responsiveness of your marketing activities, content and execution infrastructure. Historically, agility was not a significant factor as marketing was predominantly done using traditional media and methods. This typically entailed one-way communication sent from brand to audience, and content was generally passively consumed.
However, in the current business landscape, being agile is of paramount importance. Consumer use of digital methods – social media in particular – is ever increasing. This means that customer commentary (both positive and negative) is mass and even globally communicated in an instant.
But what does this have to do with your brand?
Well, if you do not have the ability to react or respond at the same speed and with the same level of reach as the general public, you are at a serious disadvantage. Whether in reply to customer demands, taking advantage of a market opportunity, or damage control in terms of negative publicity, agility is required. In fact, in serious cases, being agile could even mean averting potential legal action.
Ok so now that we have emphasised the importance of agility, how do you get your marketing activities to meet these criteria?
The key is to use the very same platform that consumers do – namely social media. And doing so does not mean you have to throw out your current marketing plan. While social media can be used as your sole marketing medium, you can also incorporate it into your existing strategy as part of an integrated solution.
Social Media as an Agile Solution
While plans and objectives differ from business to business, certain key aspects should underpin all agile strategies. Including these factors not only improves marketing activities, but positively impacts the brand as a whole.
Below is a list of a few core features that are characteristic of an agile approach. We explain the importance of each element and demonstrate how social media is ideally suited to support it:
A fundamental factor of agility is the ability to adapt. The need to adapt could arise due to changing organisational, consumer or industry requirements. Such changes may range from relatively small adjustments (like correcting a minor error), to major amendments – such as alternate messaging due to a serious matter (e.g. due to public concern or negative feedback).
Social media marketing, by nature, is highly adaptable. Strategies, while planned and structured, are not set in stone. Instead, messaging is flexible and can be adapted to suit changing needs as they arise. As content is digital-based, changes can be done at little or no cost. This is in contrast with traditional alternatives such as printed promotional material, which incur high costs and wastage if content needs to be adjusted.
The level of control offered by social media is not just limited to content, targeting can also be adjusted. For example, when it comes to Facebook, you are able to change the audience target criteria while a campaign is ongoing. This allows you to speak to different demographics and monitor the results.
Brands need to be responsive to consumers at all times. Although general queries form part of customer service, marketing activities also need to be client-centric. This means developing content in response to preferences and needs as communicated by clients.
The interactive nature of social media supports this function excellently. Client engagement behaviour such as comments, shares and likes indicate how the audience receives each post. By using this insight, the marketing team is able to post more of what the audience wants, thus increasing customer satisfaction. Also, poor engagement rates or negative feedback on certain posts indicate that such content should not be repeated, or there needs to be an alternate approach by marketers.
In the unfortunate and undesirable situation of public backlash or outcry as a result of brand communication, the brand needs to respond quickly and in a manner that diffuses the situation (as opposed to leading to further criticism). It is important to craft the correct response before publishing it – if needed, legal or public relations experts should be consulted.
Rapid Turn-Around Time
Responsiveness and adaptability are only efficient if done with relatively speed. In order to be agile, marketing activities need to have a quick turn-around time.
In comparison to other marketing methods, social media has one of the fastest turn-around times. You can eliminate certain components such as third-party printing companies, or publisher/broadcaster timelines. Posting a message, removing a post or amending an existing one can be done quite quickly when the need arises. As mentioned above, in the case of a sensitive issue or public matter, do not compromise quality for speed of response – always ensure that the best possible response is delivered.
A rapid turn-around time is also especially valuable when it comes to maximising market opportunities. For example, let’s say an area is hit by a sudden hailstorm. A vehicle bodyshop/panelbeater could send out a post that targets people from that area – possibly offering a booking special. This is an example of using agility to make the most of an opportunity through social media.
Agile marketing techniques prioritise factual data as opposed to estimations and assumptions. Most traditional marketing options do not provide accurate statistical information, nor do they support cost-effective market testing.
Social media platforms, on the other hand, offer a wealth of accurate data metrics. This includes not only information on market and consumer behaviour, but also the results of each marketing activity. You are able to run A/B testing via the platform in order to improve future results. Effective use of measurement and reporting tools means that you are able to constantly improve the success rates of marketing activities. Thus not only do you get a higher return on marketing investment, but you also use your marketing budget efficiently.
Goals of agile marketing strategies include a high level of responsiveness in terms of both rate and speed, being adaptable to changing internal or external needs, having a rapid turn-around time and achieving higher success rates when it comes to marketing activities. The technique of crafting content based on audience response is likely to improve customer sentiment, promote brand loyalty and even lead to word-of-mouth marketing.
Social media platforms have the capability to support all these requirements and much, much more. Be proactive and incorporate agility into your brand’s marketing plan – preparation and planning are key to successfully navigating through what may lie in the future.
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