Social media has enabled us to remain connected to our families, friends and the world 24/7. It’s also created a feeling of empowerment (and sometimes entitlement) amongst its users. Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter or any other social platform, users now feel they should be able to communicate with companies much the same way as they communicate with their friends. If someone is unhappy with his cable provider, he can send the provider a message. Hated your dinner at that trendy new bistro? Find the chef on Twitter, and tell her your thoughts.
On the plus side, this provides unique opportunities for companies to expand their brands well beyond their products and services. Oreo and Coca-Cola have been known globally for decades because of their cookies and drinks, but now they are also recognized as trend-setting social marketers. Social media gives companies the chance to earn free marketing simply by being good communicators and thinking outside of the box.
However, social media can be a double-edged sword. It’s important to understand how to execute marketing campaigns. Companies can’t simply create posts explaining why they’re great seven times a day. Each individual believes his or her experience is unique, and so it’s essential to find ways to relate to your followers—no matter if you’re a start-up company with 100 page likes or a global brand with millions of views each day. Knowing how to communicate online can be the difference between exponential growth and trying to find a new job.
Whenever posting something to our company’s Facebook page, I put myself in the user’s shoes. Is this something I would share on my own page? If the answer is no then perhaps it needs to be reworked. If your company has 1,000 followers, you know what your initial potential reach could be. However, the more people who share your content, the more people will see your posts. This leads to more page likes, and the cycle continues.
If you want to share an interesting quote or story, add a visual depiction to the post. Using software like Photoshop or Acrobat Standard (or websites like recitethis), you can add those quotes onto a stock image and create something eye-catching for your followers. If you are sharing a news story, make sure to attach a photo that will draw readers’ eyes to your post.
Social media is a conversation. You’re not speaking at your followers, you’re speaking with them. Use Facebook and Twitter to ask questions related to your company. Do you produce running shoes? Ask your followers what their favorite weather to run in is. Are you a local bakery? Ask for favorite flavor combinations to add to your newest creation. Take this a step further by visualizing the question. Whenever I ask our followers a question, I have one of our employees hold up a sign with the question, and then I post the photo. This works three-fold: It generates involvement by users, provides a face to the person they have been emailing and gives them a peek inside our office life. This helps our followers realize we’re real people and not just some faceless organization.
While it’s great to create visual content, the opportunity to increase your following is wasted if your name isn’t somewhere on the piece. If someone shares your photo by copy/pasting it, then their friends won’t know where it came from. However, if you brand your content, people know the company origin and can easily find you.
For every five posts I share on our social media sites, I make sure three are not company related. You don’t need to remind people constantly you are awesome. They already like you (hence the follow). Instead, find relatable content that is shareable to increase your reach. As an example, I work for a library vendor, so I share quotes about reading, technology and libraries in general. This excites both our partners and their patrons.
It’s one thing to retweet a loving message about your product. It’s another to respond to constructive or even rude feedback. By being as open as possible with your followers and answering their questions, you’re giving them a voice and making them feel as if you understand their frustrations. Being a company that “gets social media” creates free ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing that is impossible to recreate, regardless of how good your marketing team is.
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Photo Credit: Lucy Ann Moll
Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive. Based in Cleveland, OverDrive is the world’s leading provider of digital content. Adam runs OverDrive’s Blog, social media, represents the company at trade shows and events and creates marketing and advertising campaigns.