Regardless of whether you love or hate social media, it’s pretty hard to imagine a world without it.
Of the 7.5 billion people on the planet right now, it’s estimated that around 3 billion of them – including you we’d suspect - are active on a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter. That really is a staggering number of users; all looking to stay connected, find inspiration or simply be entertained. We bet you’ve probably got half an eye on your Facebook feed right now, haven’t you?
With numbers like that, it’s difficult to argue against the reach and influence of social platforms. And there’s no sign of their overall popularity waning, either; with Hootsuite reporting a 13% growth in active social users since 2017. In fact, thanks to the ongoing evolution of mobile tech and developing countries improving their digital infrastructure, it’s estimated the number of active social users will only get higher and keep climbing into 2020 and beyond.
For brands and marketers alike, surely this offers a potentially limitless goldmine of opportunities? After all, brands using social platforms for their promotions is of course nothing earth-shatteringly new, so why not jump on board the social bandwagon?
There are of course some pretty compelling reasons why you should…
1. YOU’LL BECOME ENGAGED
Not in the marital sense, obvs, but in the consumer sense; and this is a key component of a successful brand or retail promotion. Regardless of whichever promotional channels you use, social media is purely an engagement channel. So, if you’re looking to build an audience, brand awareness or simply create an impact with your targeted consumers, social is the channel to use.
When a consumer feels they’re being treated more than simply a customer, this is where engagement magic starts to happen. Social platforms help brands achieve this by providing a two-way communication with their audiences that shows they’re listening to their needs and catering for their interests – Getting their hands on awesome products or services is one thing, but now it’s all about offering that ‘personal touch’.
The personal touch that social can offer is what makes consumers feel special, and what better way to understand the thoughts and needs of your consumers than by talking to them directly?
The more a brand engages with its audience with personal, two-way interactions, the easier it becomes to convey awareness and win the attention of new and existing users. Conversely, research has shown that consumers who engage with their preferred brands on social tend to have stronger relationships with those brands compared to consumers who don’t engage with their own favourite brands. Which brings us neatly onto…
2. IT’S YOUR CHANCE TO GUIDE THE CONSUMER ON THEIR JOURNEY
Consumers are savvy, cynical and not to be underestimated. Sure, you’ve got the slick website, the world-renown product, legendary service and neatly organised sales funnel you think represents our customer’s journey, but your average consumer cares not for such things. They’ll still do their research before parting with their hard-earned cash, and social plays a huge part in influencing the buyer’s journey. And this journey is not always as simple as you’d think.
When a consumer looks to make a purchase, their buying journey isn’t a linear one and will often involve a huge number of touch points. Around 70% of this journey is done online; with consumers often using a mix of sources to get the information they need to start making an informed decision – including looking at brand websites, checking out reviews, comparing facts, talking to friends and of course, checking out a company’s social presence, too.
Now, it’s important to mention that just because a consumer starts following your Facebook or Twitter page doesn’t mean they’re going to automatically start buying from you (if only it were that simple!). But having a social presence and demonstrating that you encourage healthy and transparent interactions with your brand builds that strong relationship we mentioned earlier.
Being on social can also give your consumers easy access to the information they seek (especially when tied into a resilient inbound marketing strategy), give a true reflection of your products and services beyond a glossy sales brochure and help guide them into making an informed purchase decision.
3. IT HELPS YOUR SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS
For many of you brand managers out there, a key metric of success is seeing your website or brand appearing on place 1, page 1 of Google (although other search engines are available of course).
Being in that converted #1 spot shows that you’re the big player in your industry, the star of the show, the brand that people will make their first port of call when needing a product or service. But, unless you’re in a particularly niche market or have the resources and authority of some of the top 500 internet domains, it can be a tough task.
Whilst being on social won’t directly rocket your brand up the search engine charts, sharing content from your own website can help search visibility and improve search engine page rankings over time - a theory which was backed up by some research conducted by Hootsuite.
To give yourself the best chance of improving your page rank through social media, it’s best to create high quality content that integrates search terms your ideal audience/s are using to find your products or services. This can be in the form of many things; including blogs, infographics, case studies, useful business information or simply content that your audience will find – yup, you guessed it – engaging!
Sharing on social also has another positive effect as it can also increase your chances of developing an online community where your followers will "like" and "share" your content. If you really master the art of sharing quality content, you’ll also increase the chances of your posts getting onto the radar of key industry influencers. Achieve this, and you may find your content being written about, referenced and back-linked – and this can directly improve your search engine rankings as a result.
If you get really good at your social management and align your social activities with your other marketing efforts, then you could become thought leaders in your industry and recognised as experts – now that’s something not to be sniffed at…
4. YOU CAN INCENTIVISE YOUR AUDIENCES
As much as we’d love to believe that people follow a brand’s page just out of sheer love and admiration, research has shown that a 56% of social users often only follow organisations for the chance to get in on promotions and offers – such as discount vouchers prize competitions – before anyone else; as opposed to just seeing the latest spicy memes…
This is great news for marketers looking to use social in their promotions as the same research also found that 44% of social users have entered competitions or discount promotions run by the organisations they follow; so, it’s clear that if people are following your organisation’s social pages, they’re expecting to get something in return and will often be more engaged with your brand, too.
Running a retail or sales promotion via a social platform is great for three reasons; firstly, it’ll do the job of attracting new users to your account – building an audience and encourage them to buy your products. Secondly, the engagement you create will help generate loyal customers who’ll keep coming back to you over and over again. And last but by no means least, getting consumers directly involved in your promotions creates real impact - and social is a fantastic vehicle to do this effectively.
By sharing fun prize promotions, discount deals or offers unique only to social audiences as a reward for their following, you’ll keep your brand at the front of your follower’s minds.
5. YOU CAN GAIN INVALUABLE CONSUMER AND MARKET INSIGHTS
Having an open line of communication with your consumers isn’t just brilliant from an audience-building and lead generation point of view. It also opens a galaxy of insights direct from your own customers and your wider marketplace, too.
By monitoring the activity on your platforms, you can discover customer interests, opinions and patterns that can help you build a bigger picture of your customer’s needs.
Using social platforms make fantastic complementary research tools to get the inside track on what both your followers and consumers are really thinking about both you and your industry.
Get a large enough following and you can then use a wealth of social audience tools to analyse the demographics of your consumers and help you to segment your audiences, too. This will allow you to see the demographics and groups who engage the most with your posts and comms; allowing you to plan your promotion campaigns more effectively and generate more leads and conversions.
And speaking of highly targeted audiences…
6. IT’S HIGHLY TARGETED AND COST EFFECTIVE
Thanks to people’s love of sharing, social platforms make targeting a particular audience or demographic easier than ever. And we’re not just talking the standard age, location, gender and general interests, either. If you’re taking your first steps into social marketing campaigns, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – as well as the near endless add-on tools available - give marketers access to a simply vast amount of audience data and analysis.
Want to target 22-24 year olds within a certain radius of a particular postcode who like Robot Wars and TOWIE? No problem.
Want to promote your posts to people who’ve visited a certain page on a website? Easy.
Looking to reach just the population of Kidderminster who enjoy Mars bars, impressionist paintings and athletics? Bit of an odd target demographic, but sure, why not?
When you can target consumers on such a granular level and spend as little as just a couple of quid a day to do so, the case for launching a brand promotion campaign on social begins to make more and more sense.
Lastly, the great thing about being on a social platform is that from a monetary point of view, it costs absolutely nothing to post an update, engage with your followers or link to content – making it pretty much one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing out there. Even if you decide to branch out into paid promotions, the relative costs compared to traditional marketing methods can be extremely low; meaning that marketing budgets can be stretched further and for longer.
so, TIME TO GET SHARING?
Using the power of social in your promotions certainly has some real benefits when it comes to building true consumer engagement. Nurture your audience on social effectively and you can create a snowball of engagement that’ll not just create an engaged band of social followers, but also generate leads, sales and that most prized possession in engagement: brand advocates.
It all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, if you’re already firing up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get posting, you may want to hold your horses there as these are just the positive effects of using social with your promotions. You're probably thinking, 'What about the downsides? Surely there's some negatives to social, too?'
And you'd be right.
Brace yourself: this could be a bumpy ride…