7 ways brands can improve marketing strategies with social media

Social media has been both a gift and a curse for many marketers trying to incorporate and justify it in their already over-stretched budgets. Social can be utilised as a cost effective way of communicating with your consumers.

Conversations on social sites affect the way a brand is perceived, with 92% of customers around the world trusting earned media more than advertising. Here are seven ways that brands can take advantage of this user-generated content and the conversations taking place:

Step 1 - Use social media to obtain user generated content

User generated content is a great way to raise brand awareness amongst a wider audience. Through the use of a well-managed presence on social sites, a brand can ensure that users are advocating its products. Post interaction emails, calls to action and contests are a great way of attracting authentic customer reviews, opinions and product ratings. These can be shared across multiple channels to ensure they are seen by shoppers throughout the buying cycle. 

Step 2 – Use social media to listen to your customers

Through analysing and listening to the conversations of your customers, you can create a targeted approach to your marketing activities. Listen to the opinions and buying motivation of each segment of your customer base and use this information to create campaigns with messages that will resonate with them. This may require separating the customer groups into segments via the retail outlets they shop at, as different stores will attract shoppers with different motivations. As a result of analysing conversations, brands are also able to improve their optimised search results. Take the opportunity to learn the type of language used when discussing your products and apply this to the search terms you target to direct traffic to your website.

Step 3 – Use social media to improve customer engagement

Increased customer engagement is another benefit of using social as part of your marketing approach. Improving engagement with customers means brands can direct the conversation and guide user-generated content. It is important to create a space where consumers can discuss your brand and share their opinions. This can be achieved by inviting people to provide consumer ratings and reviews, sharing question and answer content and using story campaigns for consumers to relate to. Once you have achieved a good level of engagement and feedback from your customers it is important to show them their contribution to your brand. Share comments and reviews, answer questions and let people know their input is valued. Over 70% of shoppers research online before making a purchase, so these forms of earned media are vital to your marketing strategy.

Step 4 – Use social media to identify new product development opportunities 

New product development and promotion is a key feature for many brands and who better to design and promote the product than the end consumer. Social outlets give brands the opportunity to co-create with shoppers. By inviting customers to share their ideas and feedback on products they feel like a partner of the company, giving them an interest in the brand. In this way they are more likely to become advocates of the brand and will create a buzz around new products and their launches. Encouraging customers to promote new products can really aid a brand’s product launch. If the right advocates are found to trial new products in return for feedback, the brand can use this earned media in their adverts and disseminate it through their social channels before the launch, sparking an interest from other shoppers. 

Step 5 - Use social media to boost your campaign conversion

One of the most important reasons for using social media is to boost your campaign conversion rates. Studies have shown that increasing the visibility of word of mouth recommendations on brand websites can increase ‘buy now’ action by up to 76% and the time spent on the site can increase by up to 79%. Exposing shoppers to their peers’ opinions and recommendations throughout the buying cycle can transform browsers into buyers. 

Step 6 - Use social media to recognise customer contributions

Recognising customer contributions to your site can help cultivate consumer relationships by showing that you value their opinion. A good way to do this is through campaigns encouraging user generated content. For example, email campaigns and other outbound media inviting consumers to share their opinions and reviews works well. Also, by displaying customer ratings on products and in store, consumers can see that their views are taken into account whilst helping others to make informed buying decisions. 

Step 7 - Use social media to be part of the conversation

Conversations regarding your brand and products will take place on social media, the key is to make sure that you are a part of them! Use social channels as a forum to communicate with your customers to gain their trust, loyalty and feedback. Encourage brand advocates and use the opportunities that social provides to gain a valuable insight into what your consumers really want. Including your customers into your marketing strategy by way of social media channels and showing that you value their input will encourage them to contribute user-generated content. 

How else do you use  social media? Do share via @annmariehanlon