Social Branding Workshop
Fuad Panjali, Erik Ellingson, Chris Stevens, Julia Reagan, Megan Kremer, Jessica De Nova
In today’s marketing strategy, it is critical to incorporate and utilize social media platforms so you can interact and gain user input. It seems like every couple of weeks there is a new platform coming out that people feel the need to use. It is important to follow a few rules and general strategies when using these platforms. In this post, we will discuss how to get likes and traffic, user participation, what not to do on social media, integrating social media platforms together, partnerships, and customer interaction.
How to get ‘likes’/traffic
Before any other interaction can be done on Facebook, companies must first draw traffic to their page and generate likes. This may seem like a simple task, but as a small local company, creating a presence on Facebook is not that simple.
To begin, the customer has to know that the company is actually present on social media. This can be advertised at the business’s location as well as on their website. The use of QR codes are also great ways to link customer’s with the company page. To make sure there is no confusion, all the social media platforms should display the same message. This includes having the same
purpose, target audience, voice, and pictures. This will ensure that the brand image is portrayed successfully.
After generating traffic to the page, the company should then make sure that they create relevant posts that their target audience can relate with. They should also encourage the customer to post by creating Facebook contests, asking their input and always replying back to them. Customer relationship management is the key to having good interaction between the company and their
customers. Also, getting users to share their content is a great way to get their content across to other people that may not know about their page.
As for the quantity, posts should be done consistently to the point that the company is not getting lost on their customers newsfeed. Over posting is something that will lose followers however, people do not want to be ambushed by irrelevant posts.
Getting customers to interact and participate with a brand on social media can be a daunting task that is only made more complicated by the substantially different cultures found on each platform.
Participation by customers is typically made easier at least in the beginning by incentivizing participation through the use of the various features that social media offers such as “checking-in” or uploading photos to a brand’s page. An example of a way that a brand could incentivize consumers to participate is to make an offer such as “First x number of people to check in between time y and time z will receive x percent off of their tab” depending on the nature of the business they may be able to offer something that
doesn’t cost the business either such as “first x number of people that check in tonight will receive a VIP crown to wear for the night” This kind of incentive only works if it is the type of business where such a thing might be looked on as fun such as a bar or a restaurant but not at a funeral home for example.
Another way to get customers to participate through forms of social media that don’t offer photo or check in services may be to hold contests such as Lay’s “Do us a Flavor” Contest where they had consumers make a flavor of Lay’s potato chips and vote on flavors others had made with the top three flavors being produced and sold for a last round of voting.
One thing any brand should be aware of as they work on trying to get consumers to participate through social media is that the anonymity of the internet will always make for those that troll most participation events and attempt to mess with or make fun of the contest.
What not to do on social media
Using social media for marketing is still relatively new for many companies. These companies don’t understand how to properly interact and engage with their clients. Improperly using social media can be just as detrimental as not using social media at all. One mistake companies make, when first using social media is forgetting to learning the culture. Every social media site, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest has their own culture. It’s important for brands to learn the culture and the lingo before engaging. It’s necessary to use the appropriate culture, because people are more likely to respond positively to the brand. For example, Pinterest has a rule that only positive posts and responses are allowed. Many companies use this medium to create connections between the brand and client through common interests, not to sell a product.. A brand would seem rude if they were using this site to solicit their product.
A mistake that many companies do, when using Twitter, is following back every person that follows you. In regards to Twitter it’s more quality over quantity.
One of the biggest problems companies face is how to engage with customers online. Companies that use Facebook fan pages, have difficulties with getting friends to revisit and interact with their brand. Social media sites are not the location to solicited or sell an item. This often comes off as being pushy, which inhibits a brand–customer relationship. Social media is a platform to improve your already existing relationship with a customer. When posting on Facebook or Tweeting, make sure content has an image and a conversation point. Think to yourself, does my post take into consideration: people, objectives, strategies, tools and technology. Some brands post arbitrarily throughout the day. One problem many companies face is using automated Facebook post. Using these can make your brand seem lazy and irrelevant.
When starting to use Social Media, many brands do not get to know their consumers. Before any companies can benefit from social media, they need to know their audience. It’s important to know what times of day they are online and what sort of content they are interested in. People “like” brand pages for many different reasons such as, discounts, social and brand affiliation. The best time of day to post on Facebook is between the hours of 8pm-7am. To keep readers engaged, keep post under 80 Characters.
Integration with other social media platforms
Social media has been on the rise since the mid-2000’s and has become an integral part of marketing strategies for companies. Many companies have not placed an emphasis on social media, but because of the importance of engagement with your customers, companies have begun hiring exclusively for social media managers. Whether it is an employee or owner managing social media, they all face the question of how to use different social media platforms together and how to integrate their efforts. There are many strategies for doing this, but we will cover how to use the different platforms together and also using Hootsuite to manage your suite of platforms.
Facebook is typically the go-to site for social media, although it’s a great base, it’s only the start. Facebook is a central hub great for engaging users, sharing photos, promoting your company, as well as spreading the reach of your company. Twitter is great for quick user interaction and gain be a great feedback tool. Instagram is the picture version of Twitter, allowing you to share pictures of your company quickly. Youtube, Tumblr, and Pinterest are also good content sharing platforms. The key is to tie or integrate these platforms together. It is critical to remember that these platforms each have their unique niche, and content on one platform won’t necessarily make sense on another platform. Previously, the mentality was to combine all platforms so that when you posted to one it synced across the others. This is not a good because users want new and fresh content, not duplicate content. So how to do you integrate them together?
To start, make sure your site has all the links/buttons to these sites, as well as “share/like” buttons for Facebook, and “pin” buttons for Pinterest. Next, establish your Facebook presence and Twitter presence. Make sure on every platform you are providing links to your other social media profiles either in the “About Me” section or where ever the platform allows. Now, depending on your content, the next step is all about content marketing and how to use each platform to your advantage. On your Facebook page, you should post videos from Youtube, links to Instagram or Tweets, and direct content to your website. On Twitter, you can post pictures from Instagram, reach a large audience about contents on your Facebook, or post about your Blog. On your Pinterest, you can drop pins for your newsletter, pictures from your website or Facebook, and other visual stimulating imagery for users to share. The more you can engage different users on different platforms the greater your reach.
Finally, if this seems like a daunting task, you can utilize tools like Hootsuite. These dashboards have pricing plans that allow you to login to all your social media platforms. Then, from one dashboard, you can distribute content, arrange and schedule distribution times and content, see user interaction, and many other great analytic tools for managing your content. Sites like this make managing multiple platforms much easier and can be a valuable asset for companies looking to have a better social media control.
A successful brand partnership not only expands both brands target market and broadens reach; it also has the potential to spark innovation in product and business. Partnering with like minded brands also creates new experiences for current customers and future customers by targeting both parties customer base. If done right these strategic partnerships create innovation by offering something new and unexpected, this also creates opportunities for them to achieve brand objectives outside of the individual brands abilities. Combining the resources of both brands can spearhead innovation – resulting in new product concepts, advertising opportunities, and develop forward thinking ideas.
That being said no two brands can have a successful collaboration if their brand personalities don’t align well. Both should have relatively similar ideals and favorability among their customer base. This does not mean brands should solely partner with other brands that offer a common service or product, instead associate your brand with one that is interesting and surprising. Co-branding with an unexpected partner has the potential to make the brand seem trendier, more distinctive, and more noteworthy.
Another key factor in establishing a successful brand partnership is finding a partner that brings something unique into the mix. A brand partnership is not worth pursuing if both parties do not contribute something that will benefit the other in a symbiotic way. Take for example the partnership between Starbucks and Square. The coffee shop kingpin recently partnered with Square, a company that enables it users to receive payments through an Internet connected smartphone or tablet using a card reader attachment. Square provides an efficient, safe, and customer friendly solution to receiving payments; in turn this positions Starbucks as a tech savvy brand while strengthening their trendy and innovative brand image.
The way a consumer perceives a strategic partnership is vital to its success. The brand must communicate to the consumers why they are working together; this will increase the value of the collaboration and prevent the consumer from coming up with his own conclusions or perceiving it as a negative. Just like people, brands are judge by the company they keep, so they should align themselves with other brands that have growing awareness and have meaningful emotional connections with their customers.
These partnerships should strengthen value proposition, increase media awareness, and bring measurable value to both companies. Strategic partnerships only work if the company has a clear objective for the partnership, this will enable you to better evaluate potential partners and develop a sustainable, long-term relationship with the other brand.
Customer Interaction – Connecting with customers via social media platforms
With so many different social media platforms, it is important to remember that interaction between the company and the customers, is not a one way conversation. Through the use of pictures, statuses, pins, shares, and tweets there are multiple outlets to communicate with customers. Understanding that each platform has its intricacies and benefits is important.
Twitter is a platform that is used for quick and short interactions between customers and companies. This allows for frequent updates and conversations with your customer base. A company can see how a customer in Dallas is enjoying their product as well as a customer in Bangladesh. By having a lot of followers, you can create a tweet and encourage customers to respond and retweet. The use of hashtags on twitter can generate social trends in favor of your business and the message you are trying to spread. It is important to retweet and respond to tweets directed at you so that customers feel that they are valued and their voices are heard.
Facebook is the more prominent of all the social media sites. Companies create pages that their customers can “like” and then interact with. Posting pictures and statuses allow for customers to interact and feel like they are a part of the brand. Responding back to customers who comment on these threads is important because creating a dialogue shows that your company listens to the customer and values their input. Also, by creating posts that encourage feedback or questions, the company can get valuable feedback that they can implement into their business strategy. Encouraging users to share photos and share statuses can broaden the reach of your content and help your company garner more attention.
There are also other social media platforms that are still growing but do benefit companies. Pinterest is a photo sharing platform that is mainly used by women. Using Pinterest can give your company the best platform to show infographics and educational processes. It also allows for users to upload their own photographs, which many people like to do. Encouraging them to upload their own photographs and share them with the community can increase your reach exponentially. Blogs are another smaller social media platform. Blogs allow for some products to be very visible if your company chooses to send them to bloggers for free. Fostering quid pro quo relationships with bloggers in your market can encourage other people to purchase your products and thus increase your company’s visibility.