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Driving quality engagement with your social audience increases loyalty and more effectively guides consumers down the path to purchase.
As such, marketers must place a premium on fostering social relationships that add tangible value and incentives to the customer experience.
But how can marketers identify the most effective ways to break through the flood of status updates, tweets, pins, and posts?
Read on for four strategies that marketers can integrate in 2014 to make sure social conversations with your audience hit the mark.
1. Use multiple channels
With a multitude of social channels available to consumers on a daily basis, it is crucial for brands to take advantage of each of the unique opportunities these social networks have to offer.
It's not simply about creating a Facebook page, because Facebook is but one of many social channels that consumers engage with. Use content across channels according to their functions and audiences, and implement social tactics that make up one streamlined campaign.
Belk’s 125th Anniversary campaign exemplifies this type of multichannel strategy and how effective it can prove for engaging consumers.
The brand’s 125 Days of Prizes offered rewards to consumers after they shared Belk’s content on Facebook, followed the brand on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, or posted contest details via these social networking sites.
Content was spread widely across Belk’s various social channels and the Belk site, allowing the brand to connect with more consumers and maximize its social presence.
The campaign had major results: with more than 216,000 registrants and an 80% email opt-in, Belk’s social strategy clearly gained brand attention.
Expanding your social strategy to broad, multichannel campaigns allows your brand to take full advantage of the variety of sharing opportunities afforded by social media.
Use your content across all of your social channels to increase reach and guarantee engagement with your target audience.
2. Empower consumers to create content that's valuable to them
The rise of social media and mobile technology has made every consumer a potential broadcaster, and it is easier than ever for brands to promote content that comes directly from your customer base.
Identifying valuable content to engage your customer at the right time on the right channel requires a considerable amount of planning and resources. One compelling solution, however, is to allow consumers to create the content for your brand.
Encourage your social audience to create content themselves, and they will be more likely to share with their friends as a result, increasing your brand’s reach. However, it is important to note that this type of content has to be valuable to and driven by the consumer, and in-turn supported by the brand.
In a recent social campaign called 6° of Stars on the Rise, clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch provided a content creation opportunity directly to its consumers.
The campaign leveraged a mobile app that pulls content from the consumers’ Facebook page to create a customized, relevant and humorous story about how they are six degrees of separation from featured Abercrombie and Fitch personalities.
Smartphone users could sync their Facebook contacts to the app, customize their personal story, and upload it to Facebook and share it with friends.
The custom creation option is an effective way to connect with your brand’s consumers and gain a social following.
By offering your social audience a way to engage directly with your brand in an interesting, alternative way, they will be much more inclined to share their custom-made content and help cultivate brand awareness.
3. Create community platforms
Another effective strategy is creating community-driven platforms, which give consumers the ability to have a bigger voice and be a part of a broader community.
Marketers can do this by creating a platform for your community to share their opinions on an interesting topic that is not directly tied to sales for your brand. The key is to find a common interest among your key demographic and avoid discussion that is product-focused or self-serving.
Coca-Cola’s #CallingIt campaign, designed to promote Coke Zero, is an excellent example of the reach that a community platform can have. The beta campaign centers on college football and prompted fans to Tweet their picks for upcoming game winners, utilizing the “CallingIt” hashtag.
The fan with the most retweets won a prize from Coca-Cola.
While not directly discussing products, the brand’s platform places Coke Zero top-of-mind while offering consumers a place to connect. This irreverent, football-oriented platform is consistent with Coke Zero’s broader marketing activities.
Providing a forum for friendly discussion can be a very successful way to engage with your consumers and elevate your brand’s social credibility.
4. Give it personality
A brand’s personality is one of the most important selling points for an effective social campaign. It’s imperative for marketers to humanize their social engagement, as personal interactions resonate more meaningfully with consumers.
Showcasing your brand’s personality is an excellent way to guarantee relevant conversations and active engagement with consumers.
With its recent Girl Behind Six campaign, fast food giant Wendy’s amped up the personality behind its already dynamic brand. The @GirlBehindSix Twitter handle urged consumers to engage on Twitter by participating in challenges, rewarding follows and retweets with a variety of prizes to debut their newest number six menu item.
However, Wendy’s did not reveal its affiliation with the campaign until the end, allowing followers to engage and interact directly with the mysterious, real-life Girl Behind Six.
Wendy’s Girl Behind Six demonstrates just how effective humanizing your brand’s social campaigns can be. View your social platforms as being owned by the people and story behind your brand, and give your social strategy a personality that will engage your consumers organically.
Drive engagement through creative campaigns
With the extreme variety of social networks available to consumers, it is important for brands to utilize these channels in unique ways to foster engagement with social audiences.
By going above and beyond traditional marketing campaigns, your brand can guarantee meaningful conversations with consumers and increase customer loyalty.