The value of social media as a marketing tool has already been well-documented. Everyone knows by now that any brand worth its salt needs to at least have a presence on Facebook. What people aren’t clear on, however, is what exactly that presence entails.
The issue, as it were, is that businesses don’t take the time to learn what makes social networks unique. They treat Facebook as just another advertising platform, Twitter as a tool for rapid-fire sales, and Instagram as a product showcase.
And that’s a problem. Not just because that’s not what social media is meant to be used for, but because audience attitudes towards sales-focused content have shifted.
Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to. They don’t want to be bombarded with marketing pitches, harassed with product information, and flooded with cold calls. Many of them have spent their entire lives dealing with that kind of thing — and at this point, it’s little more than digital white noise.
Consider, for instance, that as reported by online publication The Drum, a recent study by consulting firm Kantar found that just 14 percent of people trust advertisers. The Spring update to the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer, which measures consumer trust in business and government, meanwhile, found that only 32 percent of people believe businesses are putting people before profits. Taken together, these two studies paint a very clear picture.
People do not trust any business they view as overly profit-driven. And that means that if you use social media as little more than an additional sales platform, your audience is just going to lump you in with every other brand they dislike and don’t trust. So what’s the alternative?
Instead of focusing on your business’s bottom line and trying to drive sales, focus on your brand’s relationship with its audience. Instead of spending all your time talking about your products, think about what your audience might actually be interested in seeing. In short, instead of using your social channels as ad platforms, leverage them for engagement.
Ask yourself the following questions.
- What content do my followers typically engage with the most? What sort of stuff do they share?
- Why do people follow my brand on social media?
- How are my competitors using social media?
- What sort of personality do I want my brand to present to its audience? What sort of content would best present that personality?
- What type of content can I produce in-house?
- What kind of third-party content do I want to share?
- How frequently should I post, and at what time of day?
- Does my audience differ at all across my social channels?
In short, the most important thing to remember when establishing your business on social media is that at the end of the day, it’s not really about you. It’s about your customers, and how they relate to your brand. Focus on them —their interests, their needs, and their values — and you have an excellent starting point.