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Elevate Your Social Media Marketing with These Fresh Strategies

Elevate Your Social Media Marketing with These Fresh Strategies

What a difference a decade makes. In 2011, half of American adults were on social media; in 2021 (the most recent available data), nearly three-quarters (72%) were, says Pew Research Center. Over the years, user demographics have diversified to include all age groups, genders, races, educational attainment and income levels. In short, people enjoy hanging out online, and business leaders have taken notice.

A 2022 survey of small business owners found that 70% invest in social media advertising, with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram topping the list of channels they use. Companies incorporate unpaid opportunities into their social media marketing strategies as well, sharing content and engaging in conversations that build awareness of their brands, people, community involvement and values. Today, setting your brand or business apart from your competition means being part of the discussion — talking with people rather than to them — on social media.

Just as the social media landscape has evolved, so have strategies for getting the best results from your marketing using social platforms. Here are two strategies many companies have added to their social media efforts to strengthen their bonds with potential and established customers.

Leveraging User-Generated Content

Word of mouth has long been heralded as a mighty marketing tool. We tend to trust people we respect — friends, colleagues, family — to give us good product and service recommendations. Today, as people connect with more and more friends, family members, associates and even strangers on social media, each individual has the potential to build a much broader sphere of influence. When these individuals post reviews, photos, videos, testimonials or podcasts highlighting your products, services or brand, this user-generated content (UGC) can be extraordinarily powerful in encouraging potential customers to patronize your business.

UGC's power stems from its authenticity. Ninety percent of consumers say that authenticity is important to them as they decide which brands to support, and what could be more authentic than an actual customer voluntarily posting praise of a brand?

Here’s the best part: If you reach out to the person who created the post and get their permission to share it through your own social media channels, on your website, in your stores, etc., you can really put that authenticity to work for you. You can also take steps to increase the amount of UCG that’s created:

  • Encourage customers to share their experiences with your brand. Let them know — through your social media channels, on the checkout page of your website, on printed sales receipts, etc. — that you’d be grateful for their reviews.
  • Create excitement around your brand. Branded hashtags and competitions can inspire customers to be part of your brand community and offer you an opportunity to engage with a loyal group of followers.
  • Acknowledge the people who create content about your brand. Respond to their comments, like their posts and thank them for taking the time to share their experiences.
  • Reach out to your most ardent fans to see if they would be interested in working with you on an advertising campaign or testimonial video. Their participation can help ground your efforts in authenticity and genuine enthusiasm for your brand.

Working with Influencers

Influencer marketing takes the word-of-mouth concept a step further. Social media influencers are people who build online reputations for their expertise in a particular industry or area. They build a following through videos, posts and podcasts, and often recommend certain products or services to their followers. Influencers known for their style sense, for example, might endorse a brand of cosmetic. The content they create and deliver for that brand might include a makeup demonstration using (and touting) several products. A college athlete might promote and demonstrate athletic equipment.

As you might expect, digital natives, particularly those who are members of Gen Z, are the most likely consumer group to follow influencers, but other groups follow as well. In 2022, Pew Research found that 72% of 18- to 29-year-old social media users were following influencers. Among 30- to 49-year-olds, 44% were; and among those 50 to 64 years old, 26% were. Further, four in 10 adults under 30, three in 10 ages 30 to 49, and two in 10 who were 50 or older said they had purchased something after seeing an influencer or content creator post about it.

If you haven’t worked with an influencer yet, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to work with a high-priced celebrity to get results. You can start with a fairly small budget, seeking individuals who are open to accepting a product or service as payment, at least until you gauge the effectiveness of this approach. Then you can work out a monetary deal based on results.

How do you find and engage with the right influencer?

  • Use an influencer marketing platform or app - There are a broad range of electronic tools designed to help businesses establish and manage influencer relationships. Search “influencer marketing tools.”
  • Do your own online research – Searches such as “Cleveland-area bloggers,” “Pittsburgh social media influencers,” “Norfolk influencers” or “athleisure influencers” may help you zero in on someone who’s influential in your local market(s) or your industry.
  • Ask family, friends and members of your business network for recommendations - If they follow influencers, they’ll be happy to share their knowledge.

Once you have a list of potential influencer partners, see what they’re posting, determine whether they might be a good fit and, if so, reach out to them (through direct messaging, not a public post). Express your interest, ask about their requirements or fees, and see if they may be interested in having a conversation.

As social media continues to evolve, opportunities to promote your products and services grow. Watch for new trends taking hold with the brands you know and trust, and think about whether they have potential for your own business.

This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. Any reliance on the information herein is solely and exclusively at your own risk and you are urged to do your own independent research. To the extent information herein references an outside resource or Internet site, Dollar Bank is not responsible for information, products or services obtained from outside sources and Dollar Bank will not be liable for any damages that may result from your access to outside resources. As always, please consult your own counsel, accountant, or other advisor regarding your specific situation.

Posted: April 05, 2024