It’s hard to imagine what the past two years would have been like without social media. As Pew research shows, almost a third of adults admit to being online almost all the time.
This level of consistently high connectivity should not be ignored, especially by companies looking to build stronger relationships with consumers. But it can be difficult for business leaders to know how to make the most of their social sides. That’s why I asked four marketing experts to advise on how to adapt to an increasingly social world on the occasion of Social Media Day on June 30.
1. Social takes over the traditional website: Maura Kautsky, President at Sales Xceleration
From Maura Kautsky’s point of view, social media pages have in many ways taken over the role of traditional websites. That’s why she tells her advisors to diligently update their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Prospects can view advisors’ posts, view their connections, read reviews, and watch videos.
This informal form of ‘social research’ gives potential customers a better understanding of whether they want to connect. And from Kautsky’s experience, many potential buyers who like what they see on an employee’s social media accounts eventually turn into customers.
How can you follow this advice and make it work for your team? First, make a plan to stay on top of the many ways social channels are evolving. Keep an eye out for more traditional channels, such as blogs, and emerging social apps. She also recommends encouraging all of your customer-facing employees to post at least every few days: “If you don’t post every week, it won’t give people a reason to follow you,” says Kautsky. Of course, you want to continue this kind of targeted engagement on your business pages as well.
2. Social Selling is a Must-Try: Doug Wilber, CEO of Denim Social
Doug Wilber is a big fan of social selling, which he believes is the key to making authentic connections. “People buy from people,” he says. “In the context of social media, this means brands need to activate their most important assets – their people – on social media to be successful.”
Wilber’s focus on developing a social selling strategy to increase social reach and drive purchases is supported by research. A LinkedIn report explains that salespeople who value humanizing interactions through social selling tactics face: 45% more chances† Not surprisingly, this makes them 51% more likely to achieve their goals.
However, you can’t just increase your post count and write down what you do with social selling. As Wilber is quick to remind other marketers, social selling isn’t about publishing fun or interesting posts. It requires mapping each customer persona’s digital journey through your entire marketing funnel. For example, part of your intended social engagement will be to raise awareness. Other engagement vehicles may be more suitable for acquiring leads. That’s why you need a full-fledged strategy to get the full effect and reap the benefits of social selling.
3. The Emergence of Video and Social Creators as Essential Marketing Partners: Ed McLarnon, SVP and Regional Experience Strategy Lead, East, of RAPP
Video, video and more video. That’s what Ed McLarnon sees as a major driver of today’s social media. As he points out, video platforms like TikTok, which has over 1 billion users, are heating up the social scene. Videos provide brands with ways to connect with people based on everything from shared passions to aligned goals. And video may well have become the springboard for another social phenomenon: the creative economy.
“The growth of the creative economy is a shift from what would normally be thought of as influencer marketing,” says McLarnon. “Brands are no longer able to buy authentic relevance from a [influencer] approval agreement. For 2022, a new focus will be on creators who creatively license the material they produce and encourage real connection.” One look at TikTok’s small, highly connected communities that serve as a mirror of popular culture confirms the strength of McLarnon’s argument.
Does this mean you need to partner with creators so you can potentially increase your social commerce? Not without understanding that to work with creators, you have to start from a point of respect. Makers expect to be understood and appreciated. Plus, they don’t want to give up their artistic freedom just because you’re funding a video or post. You should feel comfortable developing a symbiotic partnership where you can’t set all the rules.
4. Go short with video to create long-lasting, lasting connections: Adrian Si, director of marketing strategy at ASV
Like McLarnon, Adrian Si sees a huge future for social video. In particular, he considers short video to be very effective compared to other types of social media content. He notes, “According to HubSpot, 64% of marketers plan to invest more in short video by 2022. [And] people are watch more video online than ever before. In fact, the amount of online video they watch has nearly doubled since 2018.”
Si thinks the shorter videos will be an enduring trend that will continue to dominate, at least for the foreseeable future. This means it might be a good time to dust off your brainstorming powers and think of ways to incorporate shorter videos into your social media marketing plans. For example, you might want to challenge your customers to create more user-generated short videos through competitions on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. This way you can see how your products and services are used and you get a nice piece of PR.
Remember that you can also make short videos. Even if you work in a B2B industry, you are not just selling to another company. You sell to people who use social media to learn more about your business and brand. So consider using videos to nurture leads, showcase your distinguishing features, build brand authenticity, strengthen your thought leadership, and build a brand community of fans.
Social media has long been an essential part of marketing for businesses and the piece of the marketing pie is only growing. If you haven’t fully embraced social as part of your marketing toolkit, you’ll want to start so your brand doesn’t fall behind in the race to fuel digital connections.