Thinking Outside the Box with Social Media
Another incredible blog series? No way! But… yes, way! Now, let’s get started before you pass out from excitement…
As your friendly neighborhood marketing experts, we’re often urging readers like you to take advantage of social media as a means of capturing the interest of your current and prospective customers. We tell you to “establish your own voice” and “build up your brand identity”. We say you should provide “unique”, “compelling” content that will help you stand apart from the crowd. And not to toot our own horn, but that’s pretty great advice!
Of course, it won’t do you a whole lot of good if you don’t actually know what we mean by all that. Because we understand that sometimes it’s challenging to think outside of the box and come up with original ways to inspire your audience with stellar content, we’ve decided to put together an entire series dedicated to the subject. By the time we’re done, you’ll be equipped with an abundance of ideas for original, engaging social media marketing. Let’s go!
Show ‘em How the Magic Happens
By nature, people are very curious creatures. We often hold a product in our hands and marvel at how it works. Where did this little beauty come from, anyways, and how does it do the incredible things it does? As a marketing professional, you should be viewing this curiosity as an opportunity to connect with your audience. Consider creating videos highlighting the creation and manufacture of your products. This “behind-the-scenes” look at your wares will pique consumer interest. For best results, try to keep the videos short, punchy, and to-the-point. The bestplatforms to post on include YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook.
Customer testimonials are extremely powerful and can sway a prospect’s decision. You can’t just “make up” customer reviews and testimonials, though. Today’s consumers know how to spot fakes, and are on the lookout for REAL customer feedback. The best way to make this available to your audience is by creating and promoting a specific hashtag that can be used by reviewers. By establishing a hashtag like this, it becomes very easy for visitors to your social pages to take a look at what actual customers are saying about your brand, all in one location. It also makes it simple for you to then retweet or share some of your customers’ thoughts on your own page. You might consider taking things a step further and creating a “Testimonial Hall of Fame”. Here, you can pick your favorite review(s) of the week and post them to the Hall of Fame. Let customers know that to be eligible to be selected, they’ll need to make use of your designated hashtag. This offers the dual benefit of promoting the hashtag while also getting customers excited about generating creative, positive testimonials.
Pinterest is an awesome community that allows people to share content and provide other users with creative ideas and inspiration for how to do things and use certain products. Creating your own brand’s Pinterest board could be a great way to not only provide inspirational content to your readers, but also allow your customers to share the ways that they’ve used your product in their everyday lives. On top of everything else, you can use and share posts from other (non-competing) brands related to your industry in order to build up professional relationships.
Introduce and Honor Your Employees
The great thing about this social media marketing tip is that it allows you to kill two birds with one stone. Depending on the size of your company, consider establishing a schedule for honoring an employee of the week, month, or quarter. Instead of just taking a canned “mug-shot”-like photo of your honoree, though, encourage your winning team members to get creative and express themselves for their social media pics. Share an interesting story or anecdote about this person, include fun facts, or ask the employee for a quote. When sharing posts like these online, you’ll not only help your customers get to know your team and establish brand trust, but you’ll also be boosting employee morale. Everyone wins!
Offer Product Tutorials
Some people shy away from purchasing or employing certain products because they either don’t quite know how to use them, or they aren’t aware of all of the ways in which the product could actually be useful and beneficial to them. Here’s where product tutorials come into play. You can either create your own tutorials that offer product demonstrations, or share video demonstrations of how other customers make use of your products in everyday situations. Inspiring!
In our last post, we touched on the idea of establishing friendships with other, non-competing businesses that may be related to your industry. Doing so will allow you and your “buddy” company to set up an agreement to share each other’s content on your own unique channels. This is especially effective when one of your products works perfectly with one of your partners. Ultimately, this practice is a great way to amplify the reach of your posts and connect with new prospects.
Hand Customers the Reigns
Modern customers love to be involved and feel empowered. Why not allow your audience to take over your social media account for a day? Offering this type of promotion could be a lot of fun and very rewarding for everyone involved. Set up a contest that promotes your brand and choose a winner who will be able to share their favorite content, demonstrate how they use your products, etc. via your social media channels. Your audience will get excited about your brand, and you’ll gain valuable insights into what drives your customers, thus enabling you to offer even better, more customized content going forward.
Make Expert Recommendations
Make sure that your audience feels understood. When you get to know the interests of your customers, you’re better able to make recommendations about social media accounts and pages that you feel your client base would enjoy and benefit from following. In addition to increasing customer confidence in your brand, you may even establish further business friendships and partnerships to utilize down the road.
Entertain with GIFs
Capitalize on the fact that GIFs are super popular right now. Sharing funny or engaging GIFs on your own social media accounts will give your clients a taste of your brand’s personality, and will inspire likes, shares, re-tweets, and brand loyalty.
Create an Identifiable Character
Why not create a face that goes along with your brand name? Some of the most successful businesses have forged connections with customers by creating memorable and easily identifiable mascots for their companies. Whether it’s a real live office pet, a funny cartoon, or even one of your own employees in a distinct costume or get-up, a mascot or reoccurring character can help your audience better relate to your brand as a whole, and will inspire positive interactions.
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
When you’re limited to only 140 characters to make your point, pictures can really make a difference! Don’t just stop at sharing your own company and product photos, though. Instead, work to elicit a response from your existing client base. Provide some type of incentive for your customers to submit their own photos of their favorite ways to use your products, themselves visiting with your company mascot, etc. You can either have participants post pictures to their own channels while making use of specific hashtags, or have them post directly to your account. This helps to expand your marketing reach while also adding a level of credibility or “social proof” to your brand.
Use Caption Contests to Give Your Brand Some Personality
Standard caption contests are usually pretty successful in and of themselves. But what if you used your caption contests not only as a means of getting your audience to participate in your conversations, but also to showcase your unique personality to the world? Take funny pictures of the people who work within your company to offer an insider’s look at how much fun your brand likes to have on a daily basis, or post a timely and relevant picture of a celebrity that’s going viral in order to show your readership that you’re up-to-speed with what’s going on in pop culture.
Make a Meme
Nothing goes viral faster than a funny, relatable, and timely meme. You might consider taking an already popular meme and generating your own caption, as it relates to your industry or brand. Or you might even snap your own picture of one of your products, your mascot, or one of your team members. The second option really opens the doors of opportunity as you can create your own caption and ask your followers to tweak the meme with their own funny content. Have fun with it because the more participation you get, the more brand awareness you’ll build.
Connect with Snapchat
Customers want to meet you where they are, and many of today’s consumers are on Snapchat! Encourage your readers to ask you anything on Snapchat. From here, you can create fun, unique, and informative quick clips that provide fast, accurate answers. In addition to everything else, doing so will show your followers that you’re willing to take the time to connect on a channel that works for their needs. A definite plus!
Quiz Your Readers
Games are always a big hit, and trivia questions are no exception to this rule. Quiz your readership on a regular basis with trivia on your brand or your industry. Offering some sort of prize, discount, or other incentive to a randomly selected follower who has correctly answered the question will motivate more people to participate. The more participation you get, the more likely it is that new people will find their way to your social media pages and that more people will enter into positive conversations about your brand.
Social media users love “Throw Back Thursday” because it appeals to our sense of nostalgia and that feeling of “the good ol’ days.” Using the hashtag #tbt isn’t just for individual persons, though. As a business, you can take advantage of its popularity in order to highlight the history of your company. Share pictures of your brand’s very first logo or mascot, historical photos of your office building(s), or post about the history of your company’s founders. Having an understanding of your past will make current clients feel more connected to your brand as a whole.
Start Your Own Weekly Series or Hashtag
Hashtags like #tbt have really blown up throughout the years, but you don’t have to only stick to the mainstream, reliable weekly posts. Why not come up with a weekly theme or hashtag of your own? Make it something related to your industry so that your followers will learn to associate the hashtag with your brand.
Interview Your Customers
Take advantage of your existing client base by interviewing and highlighting some of your top customers. Your VIP customers will feel valued and appreciated, and your other readers will be able to see firsthand how your brand has improved the lives of others. Consider posting regular text or video interviews with these customers on a routine basis in order to pique and maintain interest.
Have Fun With Weird Holidays
Everyone celebrates the major holidays, but why wait until the more popular festivities roll around? There are all sorts of silly, fun, and interesting holidays that occur throughout the year. Whether it’s National Ice Cream Sundae Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, or National Selfie Day, these types of events create unique opportunities for you to provide your readers with engaging content that will help your brand’s personality to truly shine.
Hang Out with Your Audience
Customers want to feel like they really know who you are as a brand and as if they have a personal relationship with you. While you can’t necessarily interact with each of your clients face-to-face, you can use social media to host regular hangouts with your readers. Facebook, Periscope, and Google+ all make it possible for you to broadcast live, allowing you to communicate with your audience in real-time. Keeping a set schedule will let followers know when they can expect to connect with you.
Offer Sneak Peeks
People love to feel like they’re getting something exclusive, and they really love to stay ahead of the curve. After all, who doesn’t want to be the very first to know about the awesome new restaurant in town or the latest and greatest gadget that’s going to be offered by their favorite tech company? Offering sneak peeks to those who choose to follow or subscribe to you on social media will help spark a whole lot of excitement and conversation about your brand while also making your customers feel valued and appreciated. Two birds with one stone.
Today’s consumers are interested in more than what they alone stand to gain — they want to help others, too. Charitable giving and support of admirable causes are trending right now, and it’s the perfect time to start backing the causes that mean the most to your brand. You might run a campaign that gives a portion of proceeds to the charity of your choosing, or simply raise awareness for issues that matter to your brand. This humanizes your brand and earns the admiration and trust of your target audience.
Hosting an event? Is something really cool or exciting going on with your brand? Share it with your audience — live! Social media makes it so easy for businesses to keep their customers in the loop in real-time. People really respond to live Tweets, participating in an ongoing conversation about what’s happening in the NOW. Similarly, Facebook’s latest live video feed makes it possible to show your followers exactly what’s going on, generating interest and excitement.
Become a Chat Co-Host
Here’s where having industry friends comes in handy once again! Twitter chats are very popular, as they allow customers to actively engage with their favorite brands. Teaming up with a business partner in a related field or industry helps to double your reach while adding to the value of the conversation. Here, both of you can interact with current and prospective customers, sparking a lot of interest and inspiring your audience to take action with your products or services.
Let Your Customers Weigh In
Brands spend a lot of time talking about themselves, and the direction in which they see themselves heading over the next few years. What if you stopped talking about yourself, though, and started asking for thoughts and predictions from your readers? Consumers can have a lot of fun making guesses about the future of your company — what types of products you’ll be producing and what your futuristic logo might look like. Not only is it entertaining, but it can also help you get a better understanding of what your customers would like to see in the years ahead.
Share Your Favorite Things
It’s okay to go a little off topic sometimes. Sharing book or movie recommendations, for example, helps create a brand image and personality that your readers can truly relate to. The more humanized your brand is, the more likely it is that your audience will engage with you.
Make Staff Recommendations
Consumers like a little bit of gentle guidance — especially when it comes to making decisions about which products to purchase. You might consider giving your customers some inspiration by having your staff make weekly or monthly recommendations about their favorite products or ways to make use of your brand’s wares. You could even offer special discounts on the product of the month, or a sale on an employee’s favorite thing on their birthday. Have fun with it!
Have Birthday Sales
Speaking of birthdays… give your customers something to celebrate! Get into the spirit of things by hosting birthday or anniversary sales on your business’ “birthday”, or on the birthdays of your founders. In addition to this, you could think about sending special birthday offers to your followers on their special day.
Tell Stories with Videos
Developing a brand new product? Working on a major, ongoing project? Record your most important moments on video and then create a cool time-lapse video when the work is complete in order to take your audience on the journey with you, and show them how everything happened from start to finish. It’s a really cool way to tell stories to your viewers and generate more interest in your brand.
Develop Gag Products
Joke or “gag” products can be a lot of fun and can really get people talking about you as a brand. Developing a silly product before the holidays, for example, can inspire people to not only buy the gag for their friends and loved ones, but also prompt further sales and drive conversations about your company. On top of everything else, you’ll also be showing your customers that you have a sense of humor and that you’re a business they can truly relate to.
Host Social Media Sales Events
Businesses that are trying to ramp up their social media readership and sales will quickly benefit from hosting a special sales or clearance event right from their social media platform(s) of choice. It’s very easy to offer special products or services in a flash, social media sale and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the word gets around that you’re offering such amazing deals. You’ll not only get current customers excited about making a purchase, but you’ll also have the opportunity to introduce brand new consumers to your brand and build up your customer base. It’s one of the quickest ways to go viral and get known throughout your community.
Any good business knows that it’s always important to listen to what your customers want. Be sure to listen to conversations about your brand or industry in order to get a feel for what your target audience is most interested in right now. Ask questions and take requests on the types of content your readers would most like to see. This is the best way to keep things fresh and interesting for the people that matter most: your customers.
The world of social media makes it possible to connect with your customers in new and exciting ways. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to develop amazing relationships and improve your brand image. Let the experts at Madison Taylor Marketing help you establish and maintain a rock solid social media presence today.