It’s hard to imagine what the past two years would have been like without social media. As research from Pew shows, almost a third of adults admit to being online almost all the time.
This consistently high level of connectivity should not be ignored, especially by companies looking to forge stronger relationships with consumers. But it can be difficult for business leaders to know how to make the most of their social side. That’s why I asked four marketing experts to provide advice on adapting to an increasingly social world on Social Media Day on June 30.
1. Social usurps the traditional website: Maura Kautsky, president of Sales Xceleration
From Maura Kautsky’s perspective, social media pages have taken over the role of traditional websites in many ways. That’s why she tells her advisers to update their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages diligently. Prospects can view advisor messages, verify relationships, read reviews, and watch videos.
This informal type of “social enquiry” gives potential customers a better understanding of whether they want to connect. And in Kautsky’s experience, many potential buyers who like what they see on an employee’s social media accounts end up converting into customers.
How can you take this advice and make it work for your team? First, make a plan to stay current with the many ways social channels are changing. Keep an eye out for more traditional channels, such as blogs, as well as emerging social apps. She also recommends encouraging all of your customer-facing employees to post at least every few days: “If you’re not posting weekly, that doesn’t give people a reason to follow you,” Kautsky says. Of course, you’ll want to continue this type of targeted engagement on your business pages as well.
2. Social selling is a must: Doug Wilber, CEO of Denim Social
Doug Wilber is a big fan of social selling, which he says is key to building authentic connections. “People buy 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 extend social reach and drive purchases is backed by research. A report from LinkedIn explains that sales reps who prioritize humanizing interactions through social selling tactics end up with 45% more opportunities. Unsurprisingly, this leaves them 51% more likely to achieve their goals.
However, you can’t just increase your post count and attribute what you do to social selling. As Wilber is quick to remind other marketers, social selling isn’t about posting funny or interesting posts. This requires mapping each customer’s digital journey through your entire marketing funnel. For example, part of your planned social engagement will be aimed at raising awareness. Other engagement vehicles may be more suitable for earning leads. Therefore, you need a fully-fledged strategy to get the full effect and reap the benefits of social selling.
3. The Rise of Video and Social Media Creators as Critical Marketing Partners: Ed McLarnon, Senior Vice President and Head of Regional Experience Strategy, East, RAPP
Video, video and more video. This is what Ed McLarnon considers a major driving force of social media today. As he points out, video platforms like TikTok, which has surpassed one billion users, are heating up the social scene. Videos offer ways for brands to connect with people based on everything from shared passions to aligned goals. And video has perhaps become the springboard for another social phenomenon: the economy of creators.
“The growth of the creator economy is moving away from what would have generally been considered influencer marketing,” McLarnon says. “Brands are no longer able to buy authentic relevance from a [influencer] endorsement agreement. For 2022, there’s a new focus on creators taking creative license with the material they produce and creating a real connection. A look at the small, powerfully connected communities of TikTok that serve as a mirror of popular culture reinforces the strength of McLarnon’s argument.
Does that mean you should start partnering 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 view of respect. Creators expect to be understood and valued. Plus, they don’t want to give up their artistic freedom just because you’re funding a video or a post. You need to be comfortable with developing a symbiotic partnership where you can’t set all the rules.
4. Go Short with Video to Make Lasting Connections: Adrian Si, Director of Marketing Strategy at ASV
Like McLarnon, Adrian Si sees a huge future for social video. Specifically, he considers short video to be highly effective compared to other types of social media content. He notes, “According to HubSpot, 64% of marketers plan to invest more in short-form video in 2022. [And] people are watching more videos online than ever before. In fact, the amount of online videos they watch has almost doubled since 2018.”
If thinks shorter videos will be an enduring trend that continues to dominate, at least for the foreseeable future. That means now might be a good time to dust off your brainstorming powers and find ways to incorporate shorter videos into your social media marketing plans. For example, you might want to challenge your clients to create more short user-generated videos through contests on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. As a result, you’ll be able to see how your products and services are being used, and you’ll get a good deal of public relations in the process.
Don’t forget that you can also create short videos. Even if you are 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 your brand. Therefore, consider using videos to nurture leads, showcase your differentiators, build brand authenticity, cement your thought leadership, and build a community of brand fans.
Social media has long been an essential part of marketing for businesses, and its share of the marketing pie is only growing. If you haven’t fully integrated social into your marketing toolkit, you’ll want to start so your brand doesn’t get left behind in the race for digital connections.