Social media isn’t exactly untrodden ground.
It’s been 16 years since Facebook was founded. Twitter has existed for 14 years. There is an entire generation of people who have never experienced life without social networks.
With this in mind, it’s somewhat baffling that there are still so many businesses that don’t understand social marketing. Some of them still treat social networks like traditional advertising platforms, talking at their audience rather than engaging them. Others, meanwhile, shamelessly promote their products and brand without much thought for what their audience actually wants.
Neither of these approaches is likely to meet with success, especially as younger audiences grow warier, wearier, and more focused on privacy. Rather than interacting openly with everyone who crosses their path, many users are now focused on smaller, more intimate groups of friends and acquaintances. Brand and digital content strategist Sara Wilson refers to these micro-communities as ‘digital campfires.’
“If social media can feel like a crowded airport terminal where everyone is allowed, but no one feels particularly excited to be there, digital campfires offer a more intimate oasis where smaller groups of people are excited to gather around shared interests,” Wilson explains. “[Marketers] must identify the communities and parts of the culture that their brand fits into. Then, determine the online experiences these audiences seek.”
In other words, unless you want middling results on your social marketing efforts, you cannot simply focus on selling your products. Instead, you need to immerse your audience in your brand. You need to focus on interacting with your customers, brainstorming a unique, creative shared experience that people are excited to be a part of.
In order to do this effectively, there are several questions you need to answer.
- Who is your audience? This includes their average income, country of residence, average age, and general information about their career/industry.
- How does your audience communicate? What sort of language do they use, and what sort of content do they usually engage with?
- What does your audience value? What are their beliefs, and what social causes do they tend to support?
- What are your audience’s hobbies? This may include video games, musical genres, what type of media they consume, and so on.
- Why is your audience interested in your brand?
Spend some time studying your customers. Track down your competitors, and see who’s engaging with their brands. Study, listen, learn, and brainstorm.
Once you’ve taken the time to figure out who your audience is, it’s time to get creative. You might consider partnering with other businesses or brands to create a more immersive experience, as multiple organizations have done with video game publisher Epic Games and their title Fortnite. You might consider creating an explorable virtual space or designing a competition or event that spans every one of your marketing channels.
The goal here is to do something that uniquely meshes with the personality of your brand and uniquely resonates with your audience. To engage with and immerse your customers without attempting to sell to them. To cultivate a relationship based on their wants and their needs.
Do it right, and you won’t need to sell to them — they’ll find their way to you themselves.