Why social media marketers need to build universal communities
If we could only give one piece of advice to social media marketers, it would be this:
Expect the unexpected.
2018 saw market peaks and crashes, radical changes to data and privacy legislation, changes in user behavior and attitudes, and more. And there’s no reason to believe that things will settle down any time soon. Your brand needs to be versatile, adaptable, and ready to boost your presence on any network at any time.
In this post, we’ll discuss the latest shifts in social media, and why building a universal online community is the key to staying ahead.
What’s the latest on social networks?
Analyzing what’s happening for social media marketers is quite a challenge. Why? Because we always have to examine the data from two perspectives:
1. What works for marketers? We’re thinking about new features, updates, and capabilities for marketing on social media.
2. What works for users? There’s no point running ads on an empty network. How users think, feel, and interact with social media has a huge impact on marketing decisions.
For an overview of the different networks out there, see this beautiful infographic from Visual Capitalist.
Recently, we’ve seen huge innovation from networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. They are releasing new forms of monetization, targeted ads, and content controls. At the same time, they’re cracking down on bots, fake accounts, and meaningless interactions.
But from the user’s perspective, social networks are looking more and more ramshackle. Scandals about data protection have knocked their confidence. Engagement on some sites has dropped significantly. Some users are looking for alternatives to the biggest social networks, with newcomers such as Mastodon and Discord suddenly making headlines.
So there are several challenges here. First, you need to become familiar with all the new tools and features available. Second, you need to create content which is valuable to you and your users.
Creating valuable content in 2019
What exactly does valuable content look like?
1. Communicate on your followers’ terms. Strict data rules are an opportunity to smarten up your marketing strategy. You can still micro-target leads, but you’ll need their permission. And even more importantly, you’ll need to target them with genuinely engaging content for each stage of the buyers’ journey.
2. Think global. Although most social media giants are based in the US, their user demographics tell a different story. Make sure your communication works for an international audience, including multilingual marketing and promotions.
3. Reward active followers and power users. Think carefully about how you can work with influencers, asses their impact, and actually reap the benefits. Don’t overlook the value of micro-influencers, or even ordinary users who will recruit and refer friends to your brand. Make the effort to respond to comments and DMs.
4. Win back users’ trust. The unregulated, anonymous ways of the early internet are long gone. In 2019, it would be irresponsible to run a marketing campaign without clear rules and admin controls. The good news is that such tools are now widely available.
5. Spread your investment. As we’ve seen, the different social networks are in close competition, with some unexpected shifts in audience engagement. Follow your users, and develop your audience on each new platform. And we don’t just mean creating a profile!
For most marketers, social media has one fatal flaw. Social media users are comfortable within their network, and it’s difficult to take them outside - whether that’s to read your content, make a purchase, or share more information about themselves.
So when we recommend spreading your investment, we’re talking about outside social media, as well as on the networks. Try and collect email addresses or make connections, so you can reach followers from outside their chosen network. Share content that encourages them to click through.
How to create a universal community
One solution to the social media problem is to build an online community which transcends individual networks. Create a universal brand identity and image which users relate to, wherever they find it. When you create a sense of personal connection and community between customers, you can override their preference for the “walled gardens” of individual social networks.
To do this, you’ll have to create content and engagement which bring your online groups together. Here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Do your research. Find out more about your followers, with a few quick questions or a survey. You’ll be able to identify what makes each follower unique - and what unites them. Make sure you share the survey on every network where you have or want followers.
2. Be accessible. If you want followers to feel affinity for your brand, they must be able to find you. Make sure your social profiles include contact details. Answer comments promptly. Show that there are real people, who really care about their customers, behind the social media posts.
3. Offer incentives. Run targeted promotions to persuade people to connect with you in new places. For example, you could run a multi-network social media giveaway where people can enter on several different networks. Our own research suggests that this is a popular strategy to reward communities across multiple platforms.
4. Hashtags. It’s taken a while for some social networks to get comfortable with hashtags. But they’ve recently become a vital tool on YouTube, and Instagram is planning to change how hashtags appear in posts. Create a viral tag so that users can find and interact with your content, wherever they are online.
5. User-generated content. Everyone on the internet has something to say. Collect comments, ideas, opinions, recipes, or even jokes from your followers. Make it clear that you’re going to collect content from all your social networks and that you will be sharing it as well. Publish your favorite contributions on your website, or give out prizes.
These are just a few content suggestions to get started. There’s no doubt that we will see even more change and innovation over the coming months. However, if you stay focused on the ideal of a genuine, online and all-embracing community, you can’t go far wrong.
You can contact us at hello@easypromosapp.