Social media marketing is about creating relationships with a brand's customers (I know, that's nothing new), but why is this so important? Well, too often we're going after the mass numbers, the macro, instead of going after what can actually raise the needle. Going after mass numbers is important, but if that's the objective, traditional media channels are the best way to achieve results.
Real social media marketing success occurs when the focus is on the micro level, building and establishing real relationships with customers. Establishing relationships builds trust between the consumer and the brand, which opens the door for the brand to provide the reasons and means for the customer to share. That's where the payoff results because when they talk about a brand, their social connections listen.
eMarketer notes that brand recommendations from friends and fellow community members carry a lot more weight in influencing consumer decisions than messages from brands, themselves.
Micro is not easy to do. It can be meticulous, and results aren't necessarily fast. Still, here are a few simple ways to get started.
- Monitor and Respond. Listen to online conversations about your brand and category to identify opportunities to reach out to consumers. Offer customer service to those in need, answer questions and reward advocates with special deals, offers and even, sneak-peak information.
- Bring Serendipitous Joy. Don't be afraid to surprise advocates. Single people out, and offer to do something for them. That's what people in relationships do. They help each other. This doesn't have to be public, and there shouldn't be a requirement from the recipient to take any action. Be nice to them, and remember, what goes around, comes around.
- Respond to Your Advocates. Too often brand channels (e.g., Facebook Pages, Twitter profiles, etc.) receive questions and comments from customers that go unaddressed. They are opening the door for a brand to enter their lives at a deeper level. Respond and prove that you're there for them. If the opportunity is there to encourage them to share more, do so.
The Set-Up to Win at the Micro Level
Only the most nimble of brands are able to create real relationships with consumers, so it's important to set the organization up for success.
- Be internally aligned on who is responsible for social media.
- Establish a workflow to identify how consumers will be identified on an individual level, how the response process will work and who will be needed to address questions and comments.
- Empower those representing the brand with enough freedom to take actions to address customer complaints and reward advocates without too much red tape and hesitation.
Relationships, trust and advocacy--all the pieces build upon each other, while starting at the micro level.