Being social on a social media network seems like a no brainer.  As individuals we have no problem sharing daily activities, achievements, memories or moments that make us smile through pictures, videos or shared experiences. As organizations, however, we can sometimes forget the social part, and instead emphasize the promotional. We do more telling than we do sharing with, or listening to, our target audiences.

 

Know Your Network

Want to get the conversation started, or amplify what you are doing offline? First things first, you need to know what network or networks are best for your organization.  It will depend on who you are, who your target audience is, and what you want them to do that will determine where you should be.  Let’s take a look at the most popular social networks in order of popularity based on unique monthly visitors, and their characteristics.

  • Facebook.  Hands down Facebook is the most popular social networking site across the board. Most users are age 25+, but worldwide they still have 50 million users under the age of 25.  For Facebook users, it is all about them:  their pictures, their stories, their ideas, their worries and concerns.  If you are going to be on Facebook your content has to speak directly to the issues, news and views your target audience is talking about.  How does your product or service address their concerns, get them excited or answer their questions?  Those are the questions you need to answer and the approach you need to take on Facebook.
  • Twitter.  Twitter is all about what is happening right now and the majority of its users are age 18 – 29.  Twitter users want to be part of the conversation that is happening in real time, and when commenting or questioning, expect a response in real time as well. Twitter chats are an effective use of the network in that conversation can be focused and relevant to audience segments.  It also provides access to your organization and its thought leaders online that isn’t typically available offline.
  • Pinterest.  If it is women you are targeting, then Pinterest is the place to be as 80 percent of its users are female. The greatest percentage of its users are 18 -49 and they are there to buy. Pinterest is a planning tool that its users can go back to with direct links to make online purchases whether for an item, an event, a recipe or information. You can segment your audiences with different pin boards, keeping in mind this network relies on visuals in a highly scannable environment.
  • Instagram. As 37 percent of its users are between 18 – 29, Instagram is also known as the “happy hour network.”  Visual marketing is the key and you have to be mobile to play—you cannot post from a desktop browser. It is about creating brand affinity through visual storytelling. Your visual identity takes center stage in the conversation, grounded by either a branded hashtag or connecting your product or service to a trending hashtag.

Give Them Something to Talk About

Now that you know how the most popular social networks are used, and who is using them, it is time to engage. While at the end of the day the ultimate goal is about advancing your brand, social media is where you live it by showcasing your organization’s personality.

  • How To. While the purpose of your product or service may seem obvious, the key here is not simply to tell people about it, but show them how it enhances their life.  Take jewelry as an example.  It is not simply about selling a necklace, but completing an outfit, making a statement or being on trend. The same is true with food. Nutella has created online communities by moving the chocolate hazelnut spread beyond a simple slice of bread. By demonstrating how your product fits into the bigger picture, makes it more personal and relevant to individual users.  It sparks ideas, elicits emotion and creates conversation.
  • Customer Service. If your organization prides itself on its customer service, then social media is where the rubber meets the road.  More and more people are going online to share the good and the bad.  The key is to respond to all comments.  Thank those for sharing the good and demonstrating your mission in action, but also show empathy and give answers to those whose experience with your brand fell short of expectations.
  • User Generated. Let your customers create and share content about your brand for you. The #ShareaCoke campaign quickly comes to mind as an example.  It encouraged Coke drinkers to share photos and stories about when, where and with who they enjoyed a Coke. The campaign not only demonstrates, but creates, community by tapping into consumer feelings about the product.
  • Spotlight People. Behind every successful brand are people. Think of the television ads for Honey Bunches of Oats.  The goal is to sell cereal, but the ad focuses on the people making and packaging the cereal.  Personalize your brand by featuring those who design, build or deliver your product or service.  For an airline it might be the ground crew.  In healthcare, go beyond the white coat and give patients a sense of who their provider is outside the hospital. For a utility it’s the line crew who responds at a moment’s notice when there is an outage.  People relate to people.  Give life to your brand by showcasing the people behind it.
  • Offer an Experience.  Further building on people connecting with people, don’t tell someone what it feels like to complete a marathon, a triathlon or an obstacle course.  Show them.  Put them in the moment.  Connect with their emotions about the thrill of finishing or being defeated, but trying again.  Travel to new places, reunite with family or make possible the impossible.  Through a shared, virtual experience, you can inspire people to rise up, sign up or show up.

Being social on social media is all about the human experience and connecting with people emotionally.  It’s about walking the talk and giving your brand life beyond the product, place or service you offer.  Need help? Let’s connect.  Email Lfanaras@mill-im.com or call 877-873-7445.