After the Pulwama Attack, social media platforms were naturally flooded with very sharp and sentimental views. Most of us were talking about martyrs, their sacrifices, and as a country, the resolve and decisive action that we must take to avenge their deaths. The nation was angry, outraged and these sentiments were not superficial.
Brands, these days, strive to humanize themselves. This is especially true for digital platforms where they want to be a part of the organic conversation. And no marketer really wants to let go of a single opportunity of #momentmarketing in social media. But when it comes to real issues like national policies, politics, or real societal urgencies, brands often play safe.
No easy choices
What do you think brands (i.e. us marketers) should be doing here? I understand as a corporate entity operating in various geographies, it would be difficult for brands, to express such sharp views. But should they operate in a complete silo and pretend as if nothing has happened and continue with their regular content calendar? Or should they not post any update for that matter? Or should the brands go ahead and condemn the attack the way most of their TG has done? And be one of them (humanize the brand in real?).
There are a few brands that have come out and supported the government or military in tangible ways. Paytmmade it easier for its users to donate funds, Reliancepulled out from the production of Pakistan Super League. But most of the brands have stuck to the first two ways i.e. of operating in a silo. This may not be the wrong thing to do as their opinion probably won’t have any effect on policies and actions.
Humanizing brand needs action
I am not saying that it’s possible for every brand to contribute in a tangible way. And definitely, just a social media post is not enough. But when the audience gets to see that these same brands come up with interesting stuff to capitalize on moments frequently, it won’t be long when such silence will be considered odd.
If humanizing the brand is the ultimate goal, marketers must not operate in a silo. They must act as the eyes and ears of the organization and relay what’s happening. Try and drive tangible actions – and of course not in haste. And these actions could be positive as well – like contributing to relevant causes that are directly or indirectly related to the frontline.
Do brands need to respond to
such real issues (on social media)? Or there’s no merit in doing that? What do
People use social media to engage with others. To connect with their friends and families, to get entertained, to get information or help. They certainly don’t want to hear your brand’s sales pitch. They’ll be bothered about your brand only if it’s engaging and relevant enough. This was the first and probably the most important lesson that I learned while working on the social media strategy of Godrej Appliances back in 2015 with a primary focus on social media engagement.
While they’re trying to, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc. are still not the commerce first platforms. Their foundation and growth still lie in human connections and conversations. And these are the aspects that can do tremendous good for brands in the long run. Engagement holds the key especially as the organic reach continues to decrease. On any platform, the better the engagement to a piece of content, the higher the organic reach to it. And hence, social media engagement still needs to be the most important KPI for brands.
‘How to increase social media engagement?‘ is one of the most frequently asked questions. And after working on social media for 5 years, my answer is – be the CONman.
No, I am not suggesting to deceive your audience with click-bait stuff but to work on the 4 CONs to ensure that your brand is relevant and engaging on the platforms. I am talking about – Conversation, Content, Consistency, and Contemporary.
On social media, conversations never stop and the opportunities for making a brand relevant are endless. However, it’s important to be part of the audience’s conversation. To make it about them, their moments, and their concerns. At no point, you should enforce your brand on them. Your audience will simply be put-off with the pushy content that doesn’t resonate with them.
There will be far too many moments to plug (force-fit) the brand but given today’s social media landscape, you would be better off without them. A brand, instead of pushing product all the time, can try to understand who are its core users, what they are talking about. Once you have these basics in place, focus on being a good friend – actively listening to what they are saying and responding when required, entertaining them. And offering help.
To be relevant to the audience, a brand must offer value to them. This can be achieved via content marketing. Content marketing has been a buzzword for a few years now. While there’s been a debate going on about its effectiveness and ROI, I deeply believe in the value it offers to the brand.
At the beginning of this article, I had listed reasons people primarily social media. Your brand must play the facilitator’s role when it comes to information, help on the topics that are common for it and its audience. Being an appliances brand, we at Godrej are using social media to distribute brand-agnostic information. This ranges from – how to go about buying an appliance, how to wash clothes better or store stuff right in a refrigerator. And this content has given us an above-par social media engagement rate across platforms consistently.
Social media is that television, where the brand is just one of the channels and the audience, has a remote control. The moment you stop offering value, your audience will press the button. And then you’ll never know when you are getting an opportunity again to reconnect and impress them. Creating good content is not enough, doing that day in and day out is equally important.
It’s easier said than done and a thought-through social media calendar can go a long way in ensuring this. It’s also important to find a niche area that is relatively uncluttered and also relevant to the audience. Once you are able to identify this synergy you must keep working on it consistently.
The social media landscape is ever-changing. What works today might or might not work tomorrow. It was a photo post when I started, then it was animated posts (GIFs), and now it’s video. I am not suggesting focusing only on the type of content that’s ‘in’ at the moment irrespective of its synergy with marketing objective and resonance with the message. But brands definitely need to adapt to the trends, evaluate them to find the right balance that works for them.
Your content is not only competing with other brands or news but also with content that your audience’s friends and family create. This is the critical aspect that sets social media apart from traditional media. Unless the branded content is engaging, modern, and fits well with the platform, it doesn’t stand a chance to compete with the content that’s more personal and relatable.
There is more to social media marketing than these 4 CONs for sure. And though they have worked for me, these 4 CONs alone won’t guarantee success for your brand on the platforms. But in today’s day and age where change is the norm, having a solid foundation is a must for any brand. And if you are seeking an answer for ‘how to create engagement on social media?’ then these 4 CONs are probably the most important pillars for social media strategy.