Most information for marketers about social media focuses on execution best practices without regard to the underlying concept that makes social media so valuable, authenticity. Both gut instinct and research reports show that customers value authenticity. Many brands use social media apps but, if you take a deeper look, their content is social only at first glance (a bit like the “Eiffel Tower” located in Las Vegas in the adjacent photo).
It seems obvious from a user perspective that social media should be authentic. After all, the history of social media is all about people trying to make connections with other people. And why would you to on to social media if you didn’t want to get genuine information from real people? There are other channels to get information from the corporate or technical or editorial or other perspectives.
However, there is great pressure on marketers to generate leads but it’s hard to clearly convey the return on investment of social media. Marketers also have too much to do in too short a time period, and, sometimes, even the lack of awareness of social media etiquette because they don’t personally use social media. Because of this, many marketers fall into the trap of creating inauthentic social media for their brands.
We’ve talked about how you can use social media to do behavior retargeting and there is certainly a role for social media to drive leads. However, you still have to do so in a way that helps buyers and doesn’t seem like just another marketing push technique.
For example, there has been a great deal of coverage about how even the historically great Golden State Warriors need to actively market to sell their high-priced tickets. However, as their digital initiatives lead notes, they use Facebook “as it was intended” and that it’s not about “algorithm magic but personalizing the fan’s journey.”
What does that mean from a practical perspective? At a minimum, a brand should know its target audience so well that its social media efforts help buyers (e.g., adhering to the 4-1-1 rule) and it is trusted as a reliable source of information (which can sometimes mean going to find someone more technical). There are also some other important elements of “regular” marketing that you should apply to social media and you need to make sure your marketing transformation addresses these, lest they inadvertently miss the wonderful opportunity social media can provide brands.
Some elements to be aware of are:
- Follow Your Followers – In the same way that you need to track performance data on other marketing channels, you must see what your audience is doing/saying in the social media realm. You should start with looking at responses to posts you put out and see if they are getting the response you hope for (i.e., agreement, sparking a conversation among the audience, etc.). Sadly, few organizations to do. Even fewer listen to what their target audience is saying and thinking generally, to discover what messages might resonate, what unmet needs exists, etc. However, both can be done – and are done by other organizations – using social listening techniques, for example
- Live Your Brand’s Persona – Build internal social media guidelines that spell out what falls within your brand and what does not so that whoever is posting to your social channels has no doubts. This means illustrating both style and substance, such as with examples of how the company addresses itself in posts (i.e., use “we at Marketing Transformed”) and what topics are considered appropriate for the persona to comment on and what are not (i.e., we comment on issues related to marketing technology and techniques but we do not comment on how a specific brand failed miserably in its recent marketing efforts). Be consistent to what your buyers think they’ll be getting when they read your social media posts. If you are supposed to be a company with expertise in file transfers, now is not the time to for the social media accounts to suddenly become sound like experts on how to create peace in the Middle East.
- Speak to Individuals – It’s easier to respond with a thanks to positive posts (and you should, since that shows you’re paying attention to your audience and builds reciprocity) but it’s even more important to address negative feedback. And if you don’t have the solution yet, admit it and express regret or share that you’re working on it or whatever else the case may be. In the same way, look for audience members who are knowledgeable and align to your brand and see if there are ways you can support them in some social media way.
Comments are welcome, especially if you have examples of how your brand ensures that its social media is authentic.