Ten years ago, McKinsey Quarterly published research that found that two-thirds of the touch points during the evaluation part of the buying process involved consumer-driven marketing activities. Even back in 2009, 66% of your marketing was taking place without you. People were beginning to reject the traditional marketing funnel and taking control. Customer-driven content such as online reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, in-store interactions and recollections of past experiences were found to be far more influential.
Over the years, the power of social media and digital channels to influence our purchasing decisions and buying behaviour has changed and grown exponentially, as this infographic shows. The challenge for marketers is increasingly complex and the move from one-way marketing (make advert: show consumer) to two-way marketing (a conversation in all directions: everyone shares their views) has been phenomenal. Through the power of social media, these discussions can often include thousands of people locally and globally.
Be more human
Social media allows us to have a conversation. It also allows us to be more human. To show a spark of our personality. And embody our brand, rather than just pushing messages out. Mark Schaefer picks up on the McKinsey statistic in his 2019 book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. He explains that 80% of customers mistrust advertising, 87% of customers shop around and over half of consumers will either buy or boycott based on their beliefs. He argues that the answer for marketers is to be more human. This is pretty much going back to the way that, historically, we all used to interact when we bought something. We’d chat face to face, ask questions, talk to people we trusted and feedback if the product was rubbish!
Nearly three of every four small businesses plan to invest in social media marketing this year, as reported in the How Small Businesses Use Digital Marketing Channels in 2019 report. And it’s not surprising given the opportunities for savvy marketers to connect, gain real-time consumer insight and use information to optimise their marketing. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is the primary marketing approach for the majority of businesses worldwide, with SEO, content creation and automation the top priorities.
Why is social media relevant to your brand?
Social media marketing is a way of using platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to market to, and start a conversation with, customers. It has a huge effect on brand engagement and sales, with one in four users following brands from which they might make a purchase, and social commerce – shopping on social media – is also expanding. Social media users also spend more money and are more influential than average internet users.
It’s become a very powerful, influential and cost-effective tool in the world of branding and business. It’s revolutionised the way organisations communicate with customers. And, more importantly, the way customers communicate with organisations and other customers. All this change has forced us to put the customer front and centre and provide excellent content, delivered in a way that’s focused on the individual customer journey.
Social media allows us to be helpful, to give advice and tell stories. We can share books, videos, reviews, testimonials, instructions, content, infographics and podcasts: regular, small and relevant interactions that help our customers and help us join the conversation. There’s still a lot to be said about the approach Gary Vaynerchuk describes in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – where he recommends using three entertaining and informative posts to every sales post.
There are lots of well-known brands using social media creatively and to great effect. No matter if you’re a global corporation or a small business in Surrey, you can’t afford to ignore social media. It’s now relatively simple and cost-effective to run a campaign; sharing text, images and video is a powerful tool to grow a network of brand advocates who actively promote your brand, giving an unprecedented level of exposure. Advocates will introduce your brand to new people, create and boost brand awareness, help to increase your sales, and increase consumers’ trust in your brand.
There’s been lots in the news about data privacy, particularly around the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and social media giants say they are addressing this. However, they still hold a vast amount of information about individuals, allowing for highly targeted marketing where you can engage with niche communities interested with a particular element of your product or service.
Facts and figures
- Active social media users globally – 3.484 billion (45% of the world’s population).
- There are 45 million social media users in the UK. This equates to 67% of the entire population.
- In the last month 98% of internet users have visited or used a social network or messaging service.
- Of these, 39 million are mobile social media users – campaigns must be optimised for mobile.
- Every day, the average UK based user spends 1 hour 50 minutes scrolling through social media sites – this spans all ages and locations.
- Interestingly, only 13% of UK internet users use social media for work purposes: this figure is expected to significantly increase.
Source: Avocado Social
Key social media platforms for your business
Instead of using all the channels available, we’re seeing more of the businesses we work with in Surrey selecting specific social media channels for their company. If your brand is consumer-based and very visual, then Instagram is great for building a ‘lifestyle’ following as it’s photography led. Facebook allows you to share more of a variety of content. LinkedIn is a great way to build awareness, thought-leadership and networking opportunities. Twitter encourages conversation.
Brand endorsement has been around for ages, but marketers are now using social media influencers – from celebrities to bloggers and ‘Instapreneurs’ to build their brand. Influencers have made the headlines as they can make considerable amount of money from endorsements and are now obliged to disclose any promotional content. Sometimes they are paid, but often they’ll trial a product or service that’s been supplied for free in return for a blog and social media posts.
Facebook: here you can create simple, regular posts and share relevant content, as well as using Facebook for Business to interact with customers, offer customer support and create adverts. Despite scandals, advertisers are still using Facebook and a massive 71% of UK adults (13+) can be reached with ads on the platform.
Twitter – more than 500 million tweets are sent each day and Twitter is a great way of connecting with large amounts of people. There are 13.6 million users in UK. You can promote tweets and run ads. It’s word based, although you can share visual elements, as well as use hashtags and DMs to build a conversation with customers.
Instagram – highly visual, allowing you to share stills and video. With a business account you can add contact details and call to action buttons. There were 24m users at the beginning of 2019 – 42% of population – and a huge amount of businesses are now using the platform. According to Instagram, 80% of users follow a business or a brand.
LinkedIn – engagement is now at record high levels with 27m profiles in the UK. The platform allows for likes, comments, articles and re-shares. Tools such as Sales Navigator can enhance lead generation possibilities.
Pinterest – allows you to create and curate boards with inspiring visuals. You can promote or buy pins which means people can make purchases directly. Interestingly, pins are valuable because of their shelf life – the average pin is repinned 11 times. And 80% of all pins are repins that can live for seven months… as opposed to seven minutes on Twitter.
YouTube and Vimeo – videos help significantly increase conversion rates for your campaigns and should be a key part of any social media activity. Social media engagements on videos is higher than a photo post. YouTube is the second most popular channel and a great place to host longer form content that people actively choose to view. When asked what content channels marketers plan to add to their marketing efforts in the next 12 months, YouTube topped the list.
Organic versus paid campaigns
As part of your strategy, you can create and share you own and others’ content on your branded pages and encourage potential customers to find you organically. Marketers can also pay to place content in the feeds of highly targeted audiences and both approaches work well together. Paid advertising, usually sending people to a specific landing page, can have a dramatic impact on campaign results. It’s important to make sure goals are identified from the outset – whether it’s raising brand awareness, connecting with target audience, direct selling, gaining traffic, creating new leads, research or providing customer support.
Making sense of digital
If you’re a business in Surrey looking to ramp up your social media focus, trying to keep up can be overwhelming. However, once you’ve developed great, relevant and highly targeted content for your individual audiences, there are many tools that can help you. We partner with SharpSpring, which provides a powerful, affordable marketing automation tool that helps reduce the time it takes to manage your social media accounts.
As the Social Media Today’s State of Marketing Automation Report 2019 says: ‘Many marketers still have significant concerns about automation — especially given the wider industry push to incorporate more human connection and personalisation in order to improve response. In reality, these shifts go hand-in-hand when used the right way, but a delicate balance is required.’
Our team agrees and according to the survey, social media post scheduling is the element felt most suitable for automation ‘without reducing overall effectiveness or audience connection’, followed by email marketing and social media advertising. It’s important, of course, that you proactively interact with the people who respond to your content. We also use it for scheduling out workflows with emails; written in a conversational and human way and highly personalised based on the information we have and the content they’re interested in.
Capturing the moment
Back in the 1990s when I was a student, I was invited to join a market research group about a new flavour of crisps. I think I was paid £5 and I remember there were free digestive biscuits on offer. Today’s students might not get quite the same invite: social media means the whole world is a focus group that can make or break your brand. So it’s important that what you say, matches up to what you do and it’s our job as digital experts to help communicate that, while embracing the next phase of digital transformation and our increasing ability to personalise content. As the decade old McKinsey report said: ‘If marketing has one goal, it’s to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.’
If you’d like to find out more about capturing those moments and creating a social media content strategy that reinforces your brand, please get in touch below.