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.
Hiring a social media agency remains unchartered territory for many businesses. What factors are important when it comes to finding the right partnership for your business? What separates a good agency from a great one? How do you know what to look for when choosing a social media agency? We have put together a collection of key aspects to consider when selecting your social media agency. Read on for insight and advice to help guide this critical business decision:
References, recommendations & research
An excellent starting point is checking out an agency’s references. Who are their clients? What services did they provide these clients? Do they have case studies and testimonials? If so, take a look at these case studies and past services, including campaigns (where relevant). This will provide you with insight on whether the agency would be a good fit for your business based on your priority needs. It’s also a great idea to ask your own professional network for recommendations. People often only refer you to a business that they have had a good experience with themselves.
A bit of research on your part is also required. View the agency’s own social media platforms. Ok, so sometimes a business may neglect its own needs somewhat (I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the shoemakers kids go barefoot”). But you should be able to see the type of social media content they put out, the frequency of posts and if content is value-rich (not just salesy). You will also get a feel for the quality of the material they produce in terms of both visual appeal and engagement potential.
Means, motives & opportunities
Ensure that the selected agency has the means and resources to fulfill your business’s requirements. Do they have the internal resources, tools and systems to successfully manage your brand, along with their other clients? When enquiring about their capacity and capability, take into account future needs such as upscaling based on changing business demands. In addition to volume and expansion, well prepared agencies can cater to most, if not all, creative requests. For instance, supporting your entire digital presence and activities e.g. website optimisation, dynamic content, videography, animation etc.
Analyse their business model to find out what motivates their actions. While all agencies exist to make a profit, do they also take a client-first approach? For example, being agile; responsive and adaptable instead of having a rigid service structure. Customer-centric agencies are flexible in matters such providing personalised solutions, being available outside of normal business hours and adjusting in accordance to varying client and market needs. An efficient agency will also continually look for opportunities to boost your brand. Not just when it comes to marketing, but also factors like business growth, increased market share and so forth. This type of above-and-beyond attitude creates a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and the agency.
Expertise, execution & ethics
Social media management is not simply about posting pretty pictures and nice words. It requires practical experience, industry knowledge and in-depth expertise. To be a potential candidate, an agency should have a team of experts, each a specialist in their field AND in social media. This includes graphic designers, copywriters and strategists skilled at creating content for social media. It also extends to the execution of social media activities and campaigns. The implementation of solutions should be done in a highly strategic way, taking into account social media best practices as well as your business and its clients. Skillful agencies understand the various elements such as timing, frequency, algorithms, audiences, design and specific nuances per platform.
The social media landscape can be a minefield if not managed correctly. Partnering with an agency with questionable ethics not only poses a financial risk, but a legal one as well. Not to mention the possibility of serious brand damage at the hands of an ill-equipped agency. This applies to the service they provide to you, as well as how they represent your brand on the public platforms. Consider their level of legal compliance, industry knowledge, business acumen and customer service quality. How to they respond to a negative comment or complaint? Do they have a crisis management plan? Are they knowledgeable about the various social media legal requirements?
ROI, results & reporting
Effective social media management should be result-driven and based on your business objectives. Before committing to an agency, find out what their internal KPIs are. Ask them how they measure the success of activities for their clients. Do they analyse and understand the metrics that matter? (Click to read more about social media metrics). In order for you to track the performance of your social media presence, you need an agency that is able to produce reports showing the relevant data sets. This will determine your return on investment, as well as promote informed business decision-making.
At Social Media 101, our aim is not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them. Consistently and continually. We would love to get to know each other better over a cup of coffee. CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with the Social Media 101 team.
While media platforms have always been used to attract public attention, it’s undeniable that social media has substantially increased the ability to drive publicity. This is great when it comes to desired communication like marketing content or positive messaging. But the problem arises when there is negative or controversial news that businesses would prefer to minimise. Many brands think that the best solution would be to avoid social media altogether. However, a lack of social media presence is not the answer. In fact, it’s likely to be a detrimental choice in the case of negative public fallout. If you are terrified of negative feedback on social media, read on to find out how you can turn a scary scenario into an opportunity.
Lack of Social Media Presence: Business Risks
Even if you are terrified of negative feedback on social media, not having an account does not prevent online commentary. It is actually likely to make things worse for a brand should unwanted publicity occur. Here’s why:
- The conversation happens whether or not you are there: if people want to talk about a brand, the discussion will take place regardless of whether or not social media pages for the brand exist. A brand can trend as a hashtag without having their own active social media accounts. Therefore, avoiding social media does not avert a possible scandal or bad publicity.
- Limited ability to respond: not having an established social media presence limits a business’s ability to respond should the need arise. Social media provides a way to communicate quickly and to reach large audiences. A brand without social media accounts will be at a disadvantage to every other online entity commenting on a matter due to a lack of infrastructure and existing audience.
- No crisis management plan or process: while no one wants to think about their business being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, the reality is that it’s always a possibility. The difference between experiencing or avoiding major brand damage lies in being prepared. Having a crisis management system that includes internal processes, a social media response plan and contact list of advisers (legal, PR, HR, social media experts etc) is imperative.
- Prevention is better than a cure: the best way to protect brand reputation is to have a well-managed social media presence. Experienced social media planning and management aims at mitigating risk on an ongoing basis. This includes the content posted, responses to customers and other communication. And should an unforeseen issue arise, the impact will be minimised as well through the use of a specialist social media agency.
Social Media Risk Mitigation & Effective Management
The key to a positive social media presence lies in doing it properly. Platforms and activities should be managed by a team equipped with the necessary knowledge-based skills. In addition to publishing content in line with social media best practices and business objectives, great customer experience is vital. Customer service has to be responsive, agile and solution-based. When used effectively, feedback (both negative and positive) offer the following benefits:
Opportunity for improvement: Patterns in terms of negative feedback reveal areas that need immediate attention. Taking corrective action results in an improved service offering.
Opportunity to shine: The way that negative feedback or a complaint is handled can have a major impact on customer perception. Impressing an unhappy client by resolving a matter excellently is likely to turn that person into a satisfied ambassador singing praises about the brand.
Research & Business Development: Feedback provides valuable insight into consumer preferences and behaviour. By analysing the correct social media data, businesses can base future plans accordingly, thus maximising success potential and promoting positive business growth.
In a consumer environment fuelled by social media and public commentary, the importance of an online presence is inescapable. The “ostrich” approach (head buried in the sand, ignoring reality) just does not work for businesses. Avoiding social media does not reduce the chance of trending online for all the wrong reasons. It just reduces the brand’s ability to respond. You should not be terrified of negative feedback on social media. The real solution lies in having strategies in place to mitigate potential risk, as well as to effectively manage the situation should a crisis occur. If an organisation does not have the required resources, its best to call in the experts. Either way, effective management of feedback and activities can contribute to valuable business growth and positive brand affinity.
As part of our service offering, Social Media 101 are able to consult with your business with regard to implementing tools and process for crisis management and risk mitigation. Get in touch to find out more. 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
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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