Social media is one of the most valuable tools that a brand can use. Popular social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram come with built-in audiences. Those platforms’ algorithms also lead their users to content that they like – including potentially appealing brands, products, and services.
Successful social media marketing doesn’t rely on algorithms, though. To amass a following, brands must remain active and vigilant of potential outreach opportunities.
One major advantage of maintaining a social media presence is knowing what’s trending and when. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all take brands’ and users’ location and interests into account when displaying current trends. Popular trends include news, events, and social games (such as hashtag games on Twitter). Thanks to social media, brands can identify similarly-themed trends and use them to reach new consumers. From there, brands can lead those consumers off-platform onto the brand’s website, where they can make a purchase. Posting a promo code or two on social media entices users to make that purchase.
Brands can also use social media platforms and their hashtag systems to inspire users to create user-generated content. User-generated content (or “UGC”) is content that non-affiliated users create at the behest of a brand, frequently as part of a contest. When Calvin Klein launched its #MyCalvins campaign – a campaign that encouraged users to take photos of themselves wearing their Calvin Klein clothing and post the photos under the hashtag #MyCalvins – the brand garnered 200,000 photos and over four million interactions.
Besides outreach, brands must think about engagement. Luckily, social media is designed with fast, easy engagement in mind. The number of likes that a status update, tweet, or image garners provides insight into the audience’s preferences and expectations. To further gauge audience reactions, brands can read their posts’ comment sections. Brands can also search for consumer commentary on their products and services via keywords.
Engagement doubles as an outreach opportunity. One brand that excels at consumer engagement on social media is the fast food chain Wendy’s. Wendy’s caters to demographics of all kinds, especially young people. The chain’s Twitter has become known for fun, sometimes sarcastic tweets about the competition’s quality. For example, take the chain’s response to competitor Steak and Shake’s tweet about the “awkwardness” inherent in suggesting to go to Wendy’s. Wendy’s snarky response received over 100,000 likes and 23,000 retweets.
But Wendy’s didn’t stop there. The chain replied with the same humor to multiple users’ comments on the response. These replies cement Wendy’s as a fun, down-to-Earth business in their target audience’s eyes.
Speaking of engagement, social media is an important tool for crisis management. Gaming and streaming platforms use social media to alert users when the platforms have crashed or need tweaking. Smaller retail chains often post when one of their stores will unexpectedly close due to the weather, a power outage, or another unforeseen problem.
More than 50% of all social media users are more likely to purchase from a brand that they are following on social media. Brands that do not invest in social media or use it effectively will forego a whole audience of consumers and, ultimately, suffer in the long run.