Social media has long been an integral part of our lives. People of all ages - from schoolchildren to pensioners - find something interesting and useful for them. But every year their needs change, and the SMM methods that worked yesterday may be completely useless today.
Experts in the field of social media unanimously argue that in 2013, commercial companies should realize the connection between real and virtual life of customers in order to personalize their marketing messages. Ignoring the human factor, you will simply overwhelm your customers with "artificial" posts and tweets, from which the latter will run like the plague.
If you want your social media marketing efforts to pay off, you need to understand your customers. Put yourself in their place and think about what matters to them the most.
We decided to facilitate your task and studied the 10 most popular expectations that are characteristic of social media users in 2013. Consider them in more detail.
1. Support, empathy and leadership
A person cannot live in isolation from society. At its core, we are social animals, so we so need the support of our ideas, are looking for sympathy in times of sadness, we want to share our fears and positive emotions with others and turn to them for instructions.
Unfortunately, many marketers do not take this into account: of all the companies registered on Facebook, only 42% support feedback from their customers, despite the fact that almost half of online shoppers rely on it. According to MarketMeSuite and Placeter, 56% of the tweets that customers send to various companies are simply ignored. If you want to successfully promote your brand on the Internet, you should consider social media as a platform to provide support to your customers in real time.
2. Stories you want to share
Many of us love to gossip, isn’t it? Robin Dunbar, a professor at the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, explains why we like to spread rumors and why biographies and artistic works are in great demand. The fact is that we live in a society, therefore it is important for us to know how other people live and spend their time in order to learn something from them.
In 2013, brands simply have to tell stories if they want to survive. And this should be done not from time to time, but constantly. Of course, easier said than done. Constant exchange of stories means that you have to create a lot of content! Therefore, all companies, regardless of their profile, must become content creators. And for this you need to review your organizational structure and create appropriate conditions for your employees and customers.
3. Bringing people into groups
Imagine a group of graduates, each of whom chooses his or her path after graduation. They talked and were friends with each other for several years, but now everyone is left to himself and must independently look for work. It is in these situations that social media can lend a helping hand.
In a broader sense, we should consider social media as a means of bringing people into different communities. For example, the LinkedIn network is a lifesaver for people looking for work. It is here that they can get in touch with potential employers.
Being engaged in a business in a particular area, you must foster the formation of a community of people who share the values of your brand so that they can interact with each other and feel part of something bigger.
4. Initiating dialogue and generating ideas
Social networks are not a place for passive observers. Here you have to express your opinion, enter into dialogues and reach out for a handshake.
After hearing the opinions of your clients on a specific issue, do not be afraid to express your point of view and position. Of course, you should avoid political and religious discussions, but still you need to be brave enough to share your thoughts with others. If you always observe diplomacy and political correctness, then readers will soon get bored with your messages. It is not by chance that the average number of followers of Twitter users is significantly higher than that of Facebook users: 208 and 141.5, respectively (according to the company Go-Gulf). As the information noise reigning on the Internet is becoming more and more loud, you must reveal your true personality so that others can hear you.
5. Planning or communication
As people of different age groups, nationalities and races join the world of social media, you must learn to understand your target audience. Researchers at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology have revealed a very interesting pattern. It turns out that men use social media to plan their affairs, and women - to maintain relationships and gain the trust of people.
Each social network has its own function. For example, Facebook and Google+ are great for publishing photos, videos and texts. You can use Twitter to share links and photos, LinkedIn to search for business contacts, and Pinterest and YouTube to download your photos and videos.
6. Involvement and interest
Diving deeper into the world of digital technology, we sometimes forget about the basics of correct communication with people. Your online dialogue with customers should resemble a one-to-one conversation. After all, when you take a phone and call your friend, you show him that, at the present moment, you want to talk with him and not with someone else. Do you show the same interest by communicating with your customers through social media? Unfortunately, many companies simply overwhelm their subscribers with posts without paying them the slightest attention. When creating your content, you should always consider the following factors:
- Convenience. Customers use various devices to communicate in social networks. You need to make sure that they can access your information not only from a computer, but also from a laptop, smartphone, and tablet.
- Attractiveness. The Internet is gradually becoming more visible. Not by chance the social network Pinterest has become popular in the blink of an eye. At the moment, the number of its users exceeds 10 million. All this is due to the fact that it uses visual content.
- Relevance. You should always offer your customers up-to-date content, regardless of whether they are searching for information on the network, using the geolocal services of their smartphone, or enter into discussions on social networks.
- Emotionality You must affect the feelings of customers. Placing photos of cute kittens already seems trivial (despite the fact that the word "cat" is entered into the Google search bar 30,400,000 times every month). Instead, be creative and try to create an Internet meme. A great example is the famous "angry cat", which quickly gained popularity due to its unusual appearance.
7. Different levels of relationships
As a rule, people use social networks to communicate with people they know in real life. Of course, their closest circle of friends will consist of friends and relatives whom they trust the most. Social media identifies various categories in contact lists, such as acquaintances, colleagues, experts, celebrities, etc. Therefore, companies must simultaneously strengthen their online and offline presence in order to establish stronger links with their customers.
8. Improving communication
Chatting on social networks will never be able to replace live communication. In the virtual world, it is impossible to convey all the richness of body language: gestures, facial expressions, postures, etc. Therefore, you should focus on the human aspect of your business to fill this gap. Post photos of your employees on social networks, hold webinars, organize video meetings on Google+ and share photos and videos on which customers use your products.
Customers are gradually becoming aware of the value of paid content. They already understand that quality content is more expensive than information stolen from other sites. In addition, more and more customers make online purchases using specialized websites.
All of this means that companies must move on and provide assistance to customers who wish to purchase their goods and services via the Internet. For example, you can create e-commerce apps or an introductory promo page on Facebook.
10. Add value or ideas you can associate with.
Truly amazing creatures of modernity are flash mobs and memes. They once again confirm that humans are the only biological species that can unite around a common idea, and not just because of personal affection. Become a company that inspires customers and promotes the values they value. Then let them come together under the banner of your brand and be associated with it.
Such business giants as Google, Apple and Disney sell not only goods and services. They also spread ideas and values, sharing which people have incredible pride.
Instead of conclusion
Social media is a great tool for promoting your brand on the Internet. However, this area has one feature: it is continuously evolving. You must constantly look for new ways to influence customers through social media, which is impossible without knowing their needs. Provide support to your customers, enter into a dialogue with them, show your interest, and most importantly - inspire them. Only if all these conditions are met, you will be able to count on long-term relationships with your audience.
Translation and adaptation of material 10 Expectations from Social Media Marketing in 2013.