Marketers are often pegged with questions related to the future of social media such as: Is Facebook still relevant? What’s the next social platform? Which is most powerful: a like, share, retweet, favorite? And, my personal favorite, how can I increase my reach on social media?
While these are all fair questions, attempting to grade the social landscape in this manner is counterproductive and missing the greater point. Social media is about engagement and conversation, not simply reach and frequency, which are traditional Industrial Revolution metrics.
When we think about traditional measurements of advertising, reach and frequency were at the top of everyone’s brief. How many people are watching my commercial? How many people are driving past my billboard on the highway?
A new landscape requires new rules.
When it comes to social media, the consumer is always in control. Millennials have grown up in an age where they have had access to brands at a rate that has never existed before. Today, if a brand is not on social, then does that brand really even exist?
Just having a profile and blasting content through that channel does not build a connection or brand loyalty because your voice will get lost in the noise. You must create differentiation.
Yes, a great brand needs volume to make it known and meaningful. However, if the advertising that is being pushed out does not make sense to the channel used or the audience targeted than it is an uninvited guest. Even if the content is relevant and welcomed – it is still a guest and that is what most brands struggling in the social space forget.
Here are four tips to being the right type of social guest:
1. Don’t Interrupt
The worst kind of dinner guest is the person who does not care what anyone else is saying and will stop at nothing to get his or her point across. No one likes those guests. Just like no one likes those brands.
Today, smart brands are embracing the idea of consumer discovery rather than marketing interruption. Millennial consumers do not have the patience to sit through a minute-long advertisement before the video they want to see on YouTube. The goal for great brands is to be a part of their consumer’s Social Circle, not an interruption.
For Hershey’s TAKE5 Bar, discovery is at the core of the brand’s engagement strategy. Partnerships with major influencers like Nick Kroll (who already shared his love of this candy bar before his partnership with Hershey) have been what set the brand’s social strategy apart from other competitors.
“Millennials are less responsive to mass advertising,” said Dan Mohnshine, Marketing Director of Variety Brands at The Hershey Company. “Our focus is on creating opportunities where millennials can discover TAKE5 on their terms. We have a great product but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. To be successful you have to be a discoverable brand for your millennial audience to seek out and share. We’re driving trial in a new way and pioneering new space for The Hershey Company.”
2. Know Your Audience
There is nothing worse then a joke falling flat at a dinner party. It usually happens because someone at the table is trying to make an impression but does not know his or her audience well enough. This is the same story for brands. Today, a set of rules exists for each social platform and knowing those rules and the audiences that adhere to them is imperative for your brand strategy.
“Millennials are a discerning audience and they trust their friends and what they see online in terms of social proof,” said Shelly Kramer, CEO of Kansas City-based agency V3B.
Snapchat – Be raw
Users on Snapchat are not looking for the perfect shareable moment. Snapchat is a look into real life and is the most selective form of social expression today.
Instagram – Create inspiration
Unlike Snapchat, Instagram is where consumers go to be inspired. They are spending time editing their images and are creating the most aspirational versions of themselves.
Twitter – Be on
Twitter is where consumers go to get information right now. The life expectancy of a tweet that has been retweeted is no more than 18 minutes (tweets that have not been retweeted have a lower life expectancy of only a few minutes) meaning your point must be made, and it must made fast.
Facebook – Be informative
For many younger millennials, Facebook is the Internet. Surfing the web as a past time no longer exists. Instead, modern consumers are scrolling through Facebook to collect their information and stay informed about what is going on in the world.
3. Provide Value
A welcome guest always brings something to the table. Especially in a market that is overwhelmingly crowded, brands must bring value when utilizing social media to connect with a millennial audience. Most often, that value comes in the form of utility or experience
Utility: If there is one thing to know about social media it is this: Useful is the New Cool®. This should be your mantra throughout every planning meeting. If your brand can create something that is useful for consumers you will have the upper hand.
Experience: One in four millennials are more likely to pay money for an experience over a product. That means that the value brands must bring to the table is more than just the product or service they sell. Modern brands serve as a catalyst for introducing a consumer to a new category/activity/experience and must leverage the environment in which they exist to inspire consumers to enter the category and experience the brand.
“In any good content strategy, the goal is provide customers with something that exists long-term beyond the purchase. We want to develop a real rapport, a real relationship. That’s value,” said Eric Tsai, head of acquisition marketing at Joybird, a new custom design luxury furniture manufacturer.
4. Leave When It Gets Awkward
Activation on social media is about understanding your Brand Authority. Your Brand Authority is the framework for creating content strategies and being a part of relevant conversations with consumers based on topics they care about and are willing to share. However, the key is knowing when to be a part of the conversation, when to own the conversation and when to walk away.
This means staying true to your brand. If you are not meant to say bae, don’t. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too. Identify your brand’s voice and stick with it.
“Marketers and brands need to realize that the best strategy, especially as it relates to social channels is to back off,” said Kramer. “The ‘always be selling’ attitude is not what consumers of any generation (not just millennials) are interested in. This particular consumer group is interested in content that is relevant to them, their interests, passions, lifestyles, needs, desires, etc. and when a brand can fit into their lives and streams of consciousness in ways that are unobtrusive and interesting, it’s cool.”