Sally’s feeling…Social! Developing Brand Relationships via Social Media

Content marketing is largely possible due to the digital, mobile and fluid marketplace. If you consider how society has evolved over the past decade with the increasing popularity of the Internet and smartphones, it is no wonder that marketing would change as well. In the past, individuals received news and information through a daily newspaper, the nightly news, conversations with friends, radio shows, and possibly paid advertisements. They chose businesses based on word of mouth and perhaps a coupon or flyer for a particular brand that would come to their mailbox or based on a telephone call that came to their home. These days, it is more of a friend’s status update or a Google review..”Feeling excited after my awesome manicure at Nails R Us. It was so relaxing and amazing.” Someone reading this may then consider trying this nail salon out.

Not only are consumers constantly plugged in, they are experiencing information overload. In one of my IMC classes, I learned that consumers like choices, but they do not like too many of them. At times, in order to avoid sensory overload, they simply detach from a situation rather than try to determine which of the options presented is truly the best. I vividly remember experiencing this myself over the summer when I went shopping at a DSW outlet. The aisles were filled with shoe after shoe stretching out across a warehouse-sized space. My cousin and I meandered down each aisle systematically, but it was all just too much. By the time you finished aisle three, you forgot which shoes you liked on aisle one. At one point, I ended up with a teetering shoe tower, and my cousin ended up forcing me to try each pair on as I went.

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I think about the teetering shoe tower and compare it to consumers as they comb their Facebook News Feeds or the Internet in the morning before work or on a short news break trying in vain to tease out what is important. What are the stories of the day? Consumers have gotten too smart for spam, and direct sales pitches are often Unliked or scrolled past. People want convenience as well as quality. They want information that interests them delivered to them right where they are –on social media, on blogs, on news websites. They want to see what is important to them based on their previously expressed preferences and receive a personalized online shopping experience. Whenever possible, it is important to personalize the marketing message. Everyone likes to see his/her name. One of the most cost effective yet brilliant marketing strategies is to reach out to customers on their birthdays with an email message if postage is too costly. People will remember you for this and appreciate your brand all the more for celebrating their special day.

In this particular aspect, marketers are living in the golden age! As Steve Raddick mentioned in his INTEGRATE 2015 Conference presentation, people are hungry for good quality content. And, it is our job to feed it to them. In my opinion, social media and email marketing campaigns are two of the most powerful tactics in the business right now because they are so relevant. Most milennials check social media at least once a day, and many of you check multiple times per day, and they often use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms as a “Go To” source for finding recommendations for products and services. Often, people become aware of a business online, either through an ad or from a friend’s post. Then, they achieve social interest or the idea that people whom I trust think this product may be valuable, so maybe it is worth consideration. After consideration comes social influence. How many others value this same product or service? In this way, social media helps to drive a potential customer  to make a decision to buy the product or service.

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A few helpful notes about Facebook:

  • Keeping your posts below 250 characters can get you 60% more engagement than you might otherwise see. You can even get up to 66% more engagement if you cut it down to less than 80 characters.
  • Emoticons help people feel connected and help to generate engagement
  • Compelling, creative content convinces consumers to call, come by, or change companies. Use tactics such as alliteration (case in point), metaphors and word illustrations to make even the most mundane of sentences more interesting.
  • Vivid imagery can be used in partnership with strong text to increase engagement
  • Stay relevant and don’t be afraid to address the hot button issues

For example, the topic of childhood vaccinations is extremely controversial right now. There is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there. I work as the PR Manager of a pediatric practice, and  it is my company’s obligation to ensure that our parents are appropriately informed according to the best practices and latest research available. Therefore, in the Spring we tackled a vaccine each week via social media and posted infographics on our Facebook page explaining the reason for each vaccine, the benefits and the potential side effects. This Fall, we plan to post detailed information about the Flu Shot and why it is important for each person to be vaccinated.

Question For You: Why do you follow a business on social media? What kinds of content do you like, and which type of content would make you unfollow the page? Let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter.