Having spent my teenage years publishing an endless collection of holiday snaps, documenting my every thought and updating those somewhat embarrassing relationship statuses on Facebook, the role of Social Media Executive for an e-cigarette brand did not seem a mean feat.
But oh boy, was I wrong. I soon came to realise that those years of attempting to portray the perfect image of myself on social media carried far fewer obstacles and incredible opportunities than those available to a brand. With the help of social media courses such as Search and Social Media Marketing at the University of Salford, I came to understand the degree to which social media marketing had now become the cornerstone to every company.
A confident person knows their assets and is not afraid to flaunt them. A confident and valuable brand should be no different. Social media marketing is therefore crucial for exposing a brand’s unique selling points and increasing their awareness. Brands have the ability to achieve this across a broad range of social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.
Yet, they must select the most suitable network for their target audience to ensure the ultimate reach. For example, foodies are more likely to follow Instagram accounts such as #EATMCR due to this social media networking application’s ability to post deliciously tempting photos.
Social media marketing crucially creates online communities for consumers. Given the dramatic rate social media has expanded over the past decade, these online communities have now become the cornerstone of every great brand. Thus irrespective of a product’s quality or company’s unique services, consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand actively participating with their customers on social media networks than one failing to perform any social activity.
Social media marketing, in turn, demands for brands to create a fun, dynamic and enjoyable environment for customers not only to communicate with the brand itself but also with fellow consumers. See just how well brands including Taco Bell and Oreo have created a community with their followers on Twitter.
Once a community has been created, brands must ensure that they spark conversations with their followers as part of their social media marketing. Without conversing with their consumers, they are fundamentally undermining the very purpose of social media marketing, to be social.
Conversations firstly help companies to gauge a more thorough understanding of their consumers expectations, wants and needs. Through social media marketing they also open the door for brands to participate in any relevant public conversations to create greater brand associations and the possibility to be recognised via social trends.
Brands want to see greater Return on Investment (ROI) in all marketing strategy implementations and the expectations put on social media marketing are no different. Social media marketing not only offers a worldwide reach promising more exposure to an ever increasing number of daily users, but it additionally provides an infinite number of opportunities for links back to a brand’s website.
Brands may firstly choose to implement links back to themselves on their social media networking sites such as posts directing to a new product they are promoting or linking to a news article relevant to their industry and the brand personality they wish to portray.
By creating this link to your own website, the authority of social media sites is passed back to the brand. Although most social media posts do not help in search engine rankings since they don’t pass the “link juice” due to the rel=”nofollow” default settings, others such as Google+ do. This means that active social engagement has positive synergies with organic search engine optimisation (SEO) too.
Social media marketing may see social networks create sharable, emotional and relevant content to encourage consumers to share and add comments to their posts. This, in turn, can build greater traffic to their website holding far more potential for positive ROI.
Social media marketing must not solely focus on your actions, but also on the social media marketing strategy of your competitors. Marketers must uncover the different brand personalities, products, competitions, associations and methods of interactions other companies in the same sector use on their social media networking sites. Websites such as True Social Metrics and Rival IQ offer the essential tools to analyse this so brands can react accordingly.
What do you think? Do you use social media for brand building? Does it work for you and do you get the ROI you want?