If you follow the news cycle, the country is depicted as extremely divided. The state of popular and media culture has implications on how brands should interact with social followers and consumers in general.
Today’s audiences, especially the younger demographic, want to know that a brand they support actually cares about them. Social media is best used to connect with people and to authentically communicate what your organization stands for.
It shouldn’t be utilized as a one-way sales platform for advertisers to push products and services. By using it in this manner, you risk being perceived as too sales-focused and detached.
Let’s look at ways brands can use their social presence to build stronger connections, identify better prospects, and better position themselves on social networks.
Be Good And Do Good
Corporate social responsibility works best when the CEO and employees believe in ethical practices and their organization’s mission. Some company’s pay lip service to corporate social responsibility. This can work in your favor and present an opportunity to communicate how your company genuinely gives back because competitors will come across on social media as phony and out of touch.
In February 2021, McKinsey partners voted out its global managing partner for advising a drug manufacturer in a way that exacerbated the U.S. opioid crisis. These kinds of actions significantly tarnish a brand and erodes trust and goodwill with the public.
A 2019 poll by Markstein found that 70% of U.S. consumers want to know what companies they support are doing to address social and environmental issues. And 46% pay close attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when they buy a product. Companies should be ethical even when no one is looking, and business owners should teach employees to do what’s right for stakeholders and customers.
Audiences often turn to social networks because of distrust or disdain for institutions, politicians, or media. Social platforms give them a platform to voice their opinions and to nurture relationships with friends, community members, and businesses they support.
Social followers appreciate it when you truly care for their needs and concerns. The key, then, is to foster a deeper personal connection with fans who support your business. Why not post photos and videos of employees during fun outing events? This would give viewers an idea of the people who supply the products and services they love.
Or why not show photos and videos of your company distributing Covid relief supplies or donating to a local food bank? Or encourage your existing fanbase to support a charity that’s partnered with your organization. Showcasing reality and authenticity is key.
“Establish your authenticity in content. As we worked to build and launch our brand we had a lot of advice about what we should look like or what our voices should be. My co-founder and I had a lot of conversations about what felt right for us, not what fit into a formula or emulated other existing brands. We constantly have discussions about testing new approaches but ensure it feels true to the brand. This has made it simpler to have consistency in content and build relationships with our customers,” says Hillary Cullum, Co-Founder of Berkley Clothing, a maternity activewear brand.
A personal connection means there’s more between your business and customers than financial transactions. Both parties align on a mission, social cause, or lifestyle and trends.
In fashion, beauty, supplements, luxury, and travel industries, strong brands actually sell a lifestyle or trend. Fro example, audiences buy into a certain lifestyle that Starbucks promotes, and that’s why they wait in line for 15-20 minutes. If Starbucks fans are really only buying coffee, they’d just stay home and drink much, much cheaper coffee.
When social followers support your mission or cause, they’ll pay a higher price for goods and services. Because it’d be inappropriate for them to buy at a lower price from unethical rivals.
“Social selling a lifestyle enables a company to achieve higher customer retention rates,” says Ethan Kramer, founder of a New York-based marketing agency of the same name that specializes in emerging social shopping techniques. “That’s important because retention can be five times less expensive than the money it costs to acquire new customers.”
Emerging social shopping techniques such as Facebook Live Shopping and CommentSold enable marketers and online sellers to broadcast real-time videos of products, as well as interact and entertain audience members, most of whom follow a presenter’s professional and personal lives.
“Social selling holds an advantage over traditional selling because brands engage and socialize with viewers of live streams in addition to selling merchandise. I tell clients to sell their personalities and not necessarily products – to sell lifestyles and communities and not necessarily their goods.”
Social selling is more than just closing a prospect and heading to checkout. It’s about knowing audiences whose members are scattered throughout the sales funnel. That means marketers need to invest time and effort in expanding brand awareness, as well as designing a favorable impression through authenticity and responsible business practices.
It means following up on questions and comments left on social pages, forums and group chats. And forming bonds with influencers who collectively have a significant sway over an ecosystem. It’s about building and nurturing an online community so that members wave your flag and support your cause.
In the digital age, attention is synonymous with monetization. Brands don’t have to treat platforms as another sales channel. Social media is designed to connect people with similar interests.