Successful brands understand the importance of connecting with their consumers; they understand that developing a connection fosters loyalty and creates repeat purchases and brand ambassadors. Although most brands aim to do this, many fall short. In an age where the majority of people are digitally connected throughout their day, brands need to use the tools around them to engage their consumers. After all, they are the most valuable asset.
Social media provides a huge opportunity for celebrities, leaders and companies to interact directly with consumers and forge personal relationships. This is something that traditional forms of media have been unable to achieve. Although traditional media has reach and can garner strong awareness, it lacks depth and can’t achieve the same penetration and focus as social channels. However, there has to be two-way communication between brands and its consumers for it to be successful, otherwise it’s simply another brand monologue. For it to work, brands need to listen to their consumers in order to engage them.
There are a few key principles for brands to consider when engaging with their consumers on social media:
1. Be Relevant: It's critical that brands remember the digital age is ever-changing, it moves at a pace that is a lot faster than traditional media. Trending searches change daily and brands need to keep up to date with these changes and how they might impact consumer behaviour. The key is to listen to your consumers in order to discover what they really want and need. Savvy brands need to think about what platforms their potential clients and customers are engaging with in order to meet them there. Taking it a step further, brands should have a point of view and react quickly to changing behaviours and trends. A great example is Nokia stealing the limelight when Apple introduced their coloured phone range.
The cheeky tweet increased Nokia’s fanbase by 18% and was retweeted over 40,000 times in 3 days. It received over 64 millon impressions and was on hundreds of blogs and articles in the weeks that followed.
Another great example is Oreo leveraging the Super Bowl blackout in 2013 with their tweet: "You can still dunk in the dark".
Their real time response captured the moment and sparked worldwide conversation. It was retweeted over 15,000 times, received over 20,000 likes on Facebook and their fanbase increased by 2,200 followers. All of this attention was free of charge too. Many brands paid a small fortune to showcase during the Superbowl and Oreo stole the show without paying for any advertising.
2. Be Genuine: Brands need to be original and authentic to attract consumer attention and connect with them. Social media is a place for brands to develop trust, respond to any customer service questions and build a community. Woolworths garnered a great deal of attention and a lot of free media from their clever Facebook responses to consumer comments and complaints. Their original and witty response to a consumer complaint about finding mould in their hummus gained 32,000 likes in less than 24 hours and was shared numerous times.
What Woolworths continue to do brilliantly is ensure that their personality and voice come across in all of their online responses creating a sense of trust with consumers. They received a high level of attention for their Eminem inspired rap battle with a young customer. Their response gained over 67,000 likes in 6 hours and was shared over 13,000 times. Their clever and fun approach to any issues, questions or comments raised by consumers has received responses such as “loyal customer for life” and “greatest post ever”. What they have created is an environment where consumers feel comfortable engaging directly with them and although this takes time and commitment, the result is the development of a community and increased engagement. This translates to loyalty and therefore, spending.
3. Be Consistent: Brands need to ensure that all engagement on social channels is consistent with what the brand stands for outside of those platforms. It is important for your brand to stay true to its core values otherwise consumers will be receiving mixed and convoluted messaging that will confuse them. Brands should use the same perspective and tone on all channels. The Kardashians do this successfully with their cross-platform consistency. They have built a brand that depicts a luxurious lifestyle but what sets them apart is their focus on family, their conflicts with one another and the way that they resolve them. From their TV show to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, they reflect this narrative. Their posts and tweets alternate between holidays, luxury items, brand driven content they are trying to sell and family shots. They constantly engage with one another on social media and their presence across these platforms is consistent with how fans see them on their TV show. They’ve built an empire by remaining true to their values and showcasing these values through everything they touch.
The future of brands relies on creating personalised and memorable experiences that can be shared. Social media provides a platform that allows brands to not only listen and ascertain what their consumers want and need, but also engage directly with them. Ensuring that you genuinely engage directly with your consumers in a relevant and consistent manner will elevate your brand and help it prosper.