April 13, 2012
Published in Atlanta Business Chronicle, Friday, April 13, 2012.
by Teresa Caro, Vice President of Social Marketing, Engauge
Atlanta Business Chronicle has just kicked off Social Madness, a contest recognizing companies that have shown significant increases in their social presence. To complement this initiative, we put together five important steps for companies to grow their social engagement.
Social is taking on a critical role in marketing. In fact, it’s swiftly becoming the connective tissue that binds all channels together. It’s a common link, a real time way to communicate, and an authentic way to generate learnings about an audience. Both B2B and B2C companies have a real opportunity to amplify their CRM efforts within social – by knowing their customers and delivering what they need in a very personal way.
Just be smart and forward thinking about your approach. Don’t fall victim to sweepstakes alone to encourage growth and sharing. It’s a temporary win and doesn’t set you up for future success. Consider what you’ll do well after a campaign is over to nurture relationships.
With that in mind, here are five ways to maximize engagements in social marketing.
1. Know Your Audience
Like any channel of marketing, you have to know your audience, and where and how they spend their time. And social is certainly a huge part of it. A Nielsen report shows that Americans spend nearly 23% of their online time in social.
Understand what your audience wants and will react to favorably. Are they looking for customer service, researching a product purchase, or searching for coupons? Spend the time to understand why people would interact with your brand. Only then, you can find a way to insert yourself in a relevant and timely manner. What white space can you not just own, but also win?
2. Create Smart Content
If you’re going to create content, you have to make it good, make it relevant, and make it “share worthy.”
And by content, we don’t just mean the written word. Content is any experience you invite your audience to participate in or interact with – written, data, visual, or video. This can be as simple as the photography on your website, or as complex as a second screen experience you create for television viewers.
It’s likely you’ll need to experience a bit of a paradigm shift on content. Stop looking at your high-end photos and videos as a sunk cost; it’s an investment in social sharing.
Just don’t forget, succeeding with original content is all about context. What you deliver must be relevant to your audience in the time, space, and mindset they’re in, or they won’t engage.
3. Enable Sharing
We are in an age of “social lazy.” So make sharing frictionless. Enable social sharing on all digital and social content – let people Like, Tweet, Pin, and StumbleUpon.
With the rise of Pinterest, it just got easier to attribute profit to visual content. So put your images to work by making those images “pinnable.” This means that other Pinterest users can easily find their way back to your site, and to purchase. A recent study indicates that 21% of people have purchased a product they’ve found on Pinterest.
While you’re at it, include a social call-to-action in everything you do. Why not offline? Encourage people to take a picture and add a hashtag. You can then curate that content later.
4. Create a Layered Strategy
Define a unique value for every single channel – website, email, mobile, and each social channel. Don’t post something on your website and then push out the exact same message through email, SMS, Twitter, and Facebook. You want people to like you, follow you, opt-in to your email and text messages, and gain incremental value from each channel.
Perhaps you make Twitter your customer service channel and a source of real-time offers. And Facebook and email become sources for unique and exclusive offers and content only available to the most valuable customers. See number one for what makes sense for your brand.
5. Leverage Fans to Extend Reach
When you have passionate fans, they’re excited to share. Use these relationships to drive fan engagement and to extend reach.
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A demonstrates this perfectly. Each year, they hold Cow Appreciation Day, an event where they give back to their fans by offering free sandwiches to those who come into stores dressed as cows. It’s not just free food that gets them in cow print. It’s the brand love, and the opportunity to share.
Naturally, social has become an integral part of driving interest and participation. This past year, customers were invited to scan QR codes to see a video teaser, to download costume start-kits, to use a mobile app to create a digital costume and to share their costumes on Facebook. Social/mobile call-to-actions were everywhere and fans were invited to share with friends and family – extending the reach beyond people who were already fans of the brand.
It’s an excellent example of the power of fan engagement. And a big part of why this year, Chick-fil-A hit five million fans. That’s no small achievement.
An achievement #SocialMadness contestants are going to be driving towards. We only remind you to always be looking beyond the campaign. A media approach to social is fun and glitzy, yet it can’t replace the magic that can happen when social is treated with a dose of relationship marketing. Just remember the fundamentals, and have fun!
Teresa Caro is Vice President of Social Marketing at Engauge, a full-service marketing agency for the digital and social era. She is based out of their Atlanta office.