There are plenty of books out there on how to use social media correctly with more coming out everyday. When it comes down to it, aren’t they all really saying the same thing or similar things? While some books are written in a terminology easy enough for a ten year old to understand, others are written similar to a college text book. If you look at the history of brands over the century, you can make pretty easy observations of how they relate to consumers.
Looking at ads from the early 20th century, you see illustrations for soap, cigarettes and Coca-Cola. In these illustrations you see beautiful people, sex sold. It’s human nature to be attracted to beautiful people you see in posters and in print. As advertising evolved throughout the years into TV & digital, branding still took a similar stance. It’s about the human connection. The hard sell existed, but that wasn’t the RIGHT way to sell your product. People like emotional connections, they like being told what to do, how to do, and what can make them better, stronger and more beautiful. From beauty products, to fashion, to cosmetic and plastic surgery, people strive for something different in our lives. It’s really not that hard to make those connections if you’re saying the right things or presenting the right imagery.
As branding started transitioning from traditional advertising into social media with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and other channels, it allowed for a stronger emotional connection between brand and consumer. We all want to be loved, to be thought about, treated like we’re someone. That’s what brands needed to start leveraging. People choose and distinguish between brands for many reasons. From the simplest of reasons: affordability, to packaging, quality, reputation and status; people have their brands of choice. It’s now up to the brand to take social media and connect further with the consumer. Unlike advertising, where a brand attempts to make an emotional connection, social media helps better those chances. Then again, traditional ads have a lot better placement and a higher ROI (Return on Investment) then ads through social media channels. The good thing about the social part, is growing the relationship with current fans in hoping they’ll leverage WOM (Word of Mouth) and share with their friends what an amazing experience they had.
Talking to people is the easy part. Social media is a lot about conversation and engagement, listening and understanding. Those are words you’ll see thrown around quite a bit in blogs and books on how to use social media. It’s really just a casual conversation between two people, the only difference is that you have one person voicing the entire brand. A big part of the relationship is empathy, every fan has feelings as well as good & bad experiences. The person speaking on behalf of the brand needs to be someone who’s a friendly conversationalist with a solid amount of patience. It doesn’t get much simpler then that. People enjoy stories, they like being heard, understood and even some direction at times. You can ask people to LIKE something, share or retweet content and they’ll most likely adhere to your direction.
Just remember to pay close attention to the upset people as well. They’re venting through social media to be heard not only by you, but so other people can see their distress as well. An unhappy customer will scream from mountain tops about how angry they are, while an extremely satisfied customer will share with their closest friends. It’s best to deal with those situations both publicly and privately when possible. If you can turn around an angry customers on a public wall, it’s can very beneficial. Another reason to take care of negative sentiment as quickly as possible, is that you never who that person is and what their influence is on the social web. News travels fast and the quicker you can rectify the situation, the less time it takes for that news to travel to thousands if not millions of people.
There is it, how to leverage social media as simple as that. Of course that’s in a nutshell. There’s a lot more that can be learned, a lot through trial error, as well as through reading and education. Once you know how to use as the different social channels though, it’s talking to people and making connections that’s the easy part. Just remember, think before you post and double if not triple everything before you hit the send or post button.