Social media is a nearly unmatched opportunity for companies to reach their customers, both actual and potential ones. It has become an outstanding brand discovery platform that no company should ignore. While some may think that social media is past its peak and is beginning to get stale, that isn’t the case; the amount of people using social media is continuing to grow. For example, Facebook announced in early 2014 that they had passed 1.23 billion monthly active users. It’s a massive channel, and one that companies that have been depending more on paid media as opposed to earned media should capitalize on.
Social media is a free way to engage with your audience. It might take time, and you might not get a rapid return like you would on your paid media, but the organic social media approach is a technique that cannot be easily discounted. So how do you get involved in organic social media? The following questions should be considered.
What Should Your Content Strategy Be?
Your content needs to be engaging, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. If users don’t find your content to be of any interest, they won’t bother with it, or you. Infuse your brand’s personality into this as well, as no one will engage with a spambot-esque company. Your content has to resonate with the user.
A good example of this came last July, when Delta tweeted “Baby got back! We like big jets and we cannot lie, this 737 is ready to fly.” They entertained their followers and experienced a flood of engagement and promotion from this. This shows that your content does not have to be serious and strictly in line with what is expected of a company in your market.
You could also use social media platforms with the aim of coming across as an industry expert and gaining trust. You could talk about your industry as a whole rather than your products and services specifically, so that when someone wants to buy a particular product or service, they will have you in mind as a company that they can trust.
What Conversations Should You Join?
The next step is joining social media conversations organically. Deciding which ones you should join might seem a little tricky, but your keyword research can help with that. If you can naturally join in and interact with your target audience, you’ll make great leaps into taking them from potential customers to actual customers. Furthermore, if for example, soccer is trending worldwide during an event like the World Cup and your brand has anything to do with soccer – from sports equipment to drinks to fitness classes – you should get involved in that conversation. Don’t force your product or service down the audience’s throats; by just giving a good image of your company you will go much further. You shouldn’t treat social media conversations as a selling point, but rather as a good way to generate a buzz about your brand and gain the trust and attention of your audience. It’s a longer organic process rather than a place to pitch a sale.
What Conversations Are Your Competitors Having?
If you can find out what social media conversations your successful competitors are having, you will not only get a great insight into their social strategy, but you will be able to get ideas about how you should engage in social media.
You could also join in. Again, not by pushing your product or service down the audience’s throats, but by just letting them know you exist and are a friendly and engaging brand. It’s not a place to get into petty “we are better than you” arguments with your competition, so keep that in mind; that’s a fast and simple way of ruining your brand’s image. Look at how the market leaders engage with other companies and customers and see what you can take from it.
Who Should You Respond To?
You should also respond to everyone, as you never know where it may lead. A simple thank you can go a long way in social media. You’ll have the potential to expand your brand this way and strengthen relationships. It’s an essential part of a successful social media engagement philosophy. It doesn’t matter if you are Apple or a small-town hardware store – respond to every follower on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube who asks a question or leaves you feedback. On Twitter you might find that those who you engage with will retweet your response to their followers, showing you in good light, or send you a message back. Small compliments can go a long way. Remember, with each response you are engaging with more than just the follower.
Millions of conversations are happening across social media and brands need to be a part of them. Organic social media is an important outlet to pursue in the interaction and connection with your audience. You don’t have to abandon your paid media, but rather develop a strategy to link them together.