Social media is no longer about pushing specific products or services to your target market. Gone are the days of excessive promotional posts, overly sales-oriented copy, and click-bait headlines. Now, it’s all about authenticity. Simply selling your brand, or claiming that you’re the best, just doesn’t cut it anymore.
It all makes sense when you think about it. Why would anyone want to follow a brand that’s constantly in their face? Now, brands have to ask the question: What else do I have to offer my audience?
This is relevant for most market segments nowadays, but it is especially true for those brands who want to reach Generation Z, a group notorious to marketers for being unreachable. But don’t worry, there’s nothing to fear! This generation and all the others can be responsive to the right content, and become loyal advocates of your brand. All it takes is the right strategy.
Now, if we’re not selling to our audience, what exactly are we doing?
A value-added content strategy is one of the best ways to answer this question. Social media is an amazing place to share content about your products or industry that are informative to whoever it is you want to reach. There are so many things that your audience is curious about, and if you can answer a question that people have, they will thank you for it. Think about topics, questions, or concerns that your customers might be interested in knowing more about. Great post ideas include subjects like tips, facts, FAQ’s, and quotes.
These types of posts add value to your customers’ lives and give potential customers a reason to hit the “follow” button and develop an interest in your services.
Another important step is personalizing your brand.
One great way to build customer loyalty online is through the personalization of your brand. Research indicates that audiences appreciate a “face” to the products or services they’re interested in. This can be achieved through a variety of means, such as:
- Photos and videos of business owners, employees, or customers
- Testimonials from customers
- Behind-the-scenes photos or videos displaying how your products are made, what goes into your services, etc.
- Lifestyle posts
- Funny posts/memes
Tip: Instagram and Facebook stories are also a GREAT place to personally engage your audience. You can easily show behind-the-scenes photos or footage of your employees, store, or anything else that might help you speak directly to your audience. Going live is also a cool option that can really make your brand and your “persona” stand out.
Don’t forget to ENGAGE.
As discussed before, most audiences HATE being sold to. They want to know there’s a real person behind your brand. Engaging DIRECTLY with your followers is a great way to prove that you’re involved and trustworthy. Think of your social media pages as a way to have a TWO-way (not one way!) conversation with your followers.
Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can accomplish this! One of the most obvious ways is by responding to comments… but make sure you’re being authentic! DO NOT rely on generic, one-word replies. When someone takes time out of their day to comment on one of your posts, return the favor! This makes followers feel special; it makes them feel that they’re cared about by your brand, and it will encourage them (and others) to continue engaging with your account. Actively engaging in this way not only helps build brand trust. It also increases your chances of being favored by the social algorithms. Instagram and Facebook algorithms in particular favor those accounts who have a lot of engagement. In other words, more comments between you and your followers = more people reached.
Another way to engage your audience is by asking them questions. Posing questions in posts, whether it be in the image/video or caption, is an excellent way to make your customers feel important. They will also be more comfortable engaging with your brand over time. As conversations start happening more organically, your accounts are bound to grow.
Sharing user-generated content can also be a very effective way to grow a relationship with your following. Re-posting images, videos, or texts from your customers builds social proof with your followers. When one follower sees another’s content on your feed, this legitimizes your business and makes your brand appear MORE trustworthy. However, depending on your industry, obtaining user-generated content can be tricky. Some ideas that encourage followers to post content that you can share include giveaways, hashtags, or promotions.
Now… I know what you’re thinking. All of this sounds great! But what about $$$?
Okay, I know that we said at the beginning that modern audiences don’t like being sold to all the time… The key words here are “all the time.” Of course, it’s important that you still showcase your business’s products, services, and promotions. How else would customers be updated with sales or new products? The trick is to stick with primarily value-added content. [See our related post on Using the ‘Rule of Thirds’ When it Comes to Social Media]
Promotions should be present, but subtle. Keep your promotional posts short and to-the-point. Make sure your tone isn’t too much of a sales pitch, and you should be good to go!
You can also try integrating promotional lines into your less salesy posts. For example, a post answering an FAQ could have a line at the end directing readers to your services if more assistance is required.
Now you should be all ready to say “goodbye” to boring, overdone promotional posts. Or perhaps you might prefer, “good riddance!” As you venture out on your SMM journey, you might just find that you prefer crafting up value-added, personalized, engaging posts over strict promos. You can get more creative, have more fun, and REALLY get to know your customers in the process!