A Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media Marketing

phone with facebook displayed split down the middleSocial media is a platform that cannot be escaped. Even if you’re one of the few people who don’t have a social media account, it’s infiltration has spilled over to TV with the use of hashtags, radio with the direct action of “Like us on Facebook!” and in person, what’s your handle?

Marketers and brands have to look at social media two-fold: once as a consumer and once as a potential sales opportunity. This duality can create quite the love/hate relationship with social media marketing because of the sheer amount of consumption per day.

Digital marketers face the challenge to persuade brands about the value of social media. In some cases, certain brands may not be truly convinced that their audience is using social to make buying decisions. Although social media marketing campaigns work far better when complemented by strong SEO and a sound content strategy, even as a standalone option, social media drives traffic, leads, brand awareness, and most importantly, a strong connection with a brand’s audience.

Seeing the Value of Social Media Marketing

The KPIs mentioned above are just the beginning of where the value of social media lies. There are additional branches of this side of marketing that includes reputation management, consumer engagement, and influencer relationships. Let’s break down each of those benefits a little bit more.

Reputation Management

A growing number of people are relying on reviews, from strangers, to make purchasing decisions. If enough people have had a poor experience with your brand and have talked about it online, it will start to chip away at your brand.

How do you regain trust?

A strong reputation management presence is crucial for brands. Take for example the hospitality industry. The guest experience doesn’t begin and end when someone walks through the door. It often lasts far beyond when the guest turns in their keycard.

To ensure you have a strong reputation management strategy, first assess your reputation. Be honest about your current status. TripAdvisor is one top-rated review platform, which can help or hurt your brand. What is your rating now? Where would you like it to be? Once you set a goal, break down how to achieve it.

Your team should work together to address guest concerns. Respond swiftly to each new review. Thank guests who leave kind remarks. Apologize to guests who didn’t have a good experience. Reach out individually to discuss situations that may require more attention or information.

Within any industry, there will inevitably be negative feedback. It’s how you choose to respond to it (and how quickly) that will make the difference.

Consumer Engagement

How much and how often do your customers engage with your brand? How do you track this over time? There’s no definite answer to this, which may be frustrating. The amount your customers engage depends on a variety of factors:

  • Are you a new brand?
  • Are you speaking to the right audience?
  • Are you sending the right message?

These questions cover the basics of why your audience may be engaged or disengaged. However, algorithms, news updates, and certain times of the year (such as during the holidays) may cause shifts, depending on your brand.

Once you’ve recorded this type of data for your audience’s customer profile, refine and update it year after year. For example, if your audience base ranges from 25-40, there are quite a few life changes that occur during those 15 years. Marketers and social media marketers must adapt their messaging. Consumers may switch audience groups over time or become part of more than one.

The more data you can retrieve about who is engaging with your content and brand, the better you can customize campaigns and create unique value.

Influencer Relationships

There are numerous statistics about how often people turn to online reviews, their peers, and other social influencers to make purchasing decisions. It’s no secret that the majority of people are relying on at least one area of influencer marketing to help guide their choices.

However, before brands jump on the influencer marketing bandwagon, they must first assess their audience as discussed above. What does their customer value most? Does it make sense to partner with strong influencers who can share the brand’s content? Or, is it more valuable to create a UGC campaign?

UGC Campaign Ideas

A UGC campaign highlights aspects of your brand that guests or customers enjoy most. Whether it’s an amenity, acknowledgment of a positive experience, or excitement about your brand overall, use user-generated content to your advantage!

Ideas to generate this kind of content may include hosting a contest, competition, or other community-centric, online event that encourages users to share their images. Branded hashtags, DIY videos, or social channel takeovers are all ways that you can get influencers involved in your social media marketing and strategies.

The Future of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a digital service that constantly changes. From platforms to algorithms and competition to audience groups, the “tried and true” eventually evolves. The important part is to continue communicating ways to make meaningful connections.

No matter what new social technology or tactics are introduced, the one thing that remains powerful is how a brand listens to and engages with their audience. Social media is powerful and with power, comes responsibility. When used thoughtfully with specific goals in mind, users who consume your content will have value added to their day.

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