The choice of platforms (and possibilities) in the social media area is growing day by day, allowing content of any kind to become “viral” (that is to spread exponentially) in a few hours.
An example? The impact on the social networks of the Pokémon Go game set in virtual reality: the entire video gaming industry was taken aback, while the popularity achieved thanks to this initiative was enormous, assuming global proportions in just a few hours. 48 hours.
Social media is a channel where companies can communicate directly with consumers, but their full use is not yet part of the classic marketing culture
An increasingly widespread phenomenon
Some studies have shown that, as early as 2016, more than half of the companies had already established their active presence on social media – and many others expected to do so at the latest within a year; today the data confirm that 80% of companies (both B2B and B2C, both large and small and medium) share content on the most popular social platforms, with a strong preference for Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.
In fact, a good social media branding strategy can improve a company’s reputation, as well as enabling it to more directly and realistically understand the impact its products and services have on the market and on customers; on the other hand, excluding social media marketing from communication priorities is a very questionable choice, which risks favoring its competitors.
Of course, no one is convinced that exploiting the potential of social media is an easy thing: not only are the platforms (as well as somehow interconnected) and each presents virtues and flaws, but a possible error can have potentially serious consequences – because it takes time and patience to create a good reputation, while it takes very little to destroy it. Furthermore, it is necessary to find the right “feeling” with the public, to interpret their tastes and trends, to be original and interesting, and never “self-referential”.
Businesses and social communication
For many companies, the presence on social media is reduced to a page and the periodic publication of posts regarding the brand or its market sector; even if these are useful and necessary activities, the risk on the one hand is that of replicating in a more or less extensive and articulated way the contents of the company website (including contact forms), on the other, of resuming a series of various news with a view to “broadcasting” (or editorial calendar) rather than real interaction with the public.
Undoubtedly you can advertise events and webinars, articles of specialized publications that talk about the brand, authoritative opinions, market research and so on … but the “content curation” is not everything. Propose (or revive) interesting news and events, appointments and quotes is useful to circulate all these things including employees and collaborators as well as among followers; however, creating a “community” is another thing.
As we said in another post, the automation of advertising and the proposal of content content (content curation) in the social media is something necessary but not sufficient: the active participation of employees, experts in the subject and (must) of enthusiasts to a certain theme, makes the difference between something vaguely “aseptic” and a virtual meeting place where there are real people – complete with comments, jokes, questions, answers and (why not?) even some discussion (possibly moderate and always constructive).
Of course there are companies for which the thing is not only feasible but even easy to implement (we think of a factory of motorcycles sports, which perhaps participates in the most followed by the public championships and that sells their cars to fans), others in which it is a little less; on the other hand, every reality is a case in itself and marketing must be thought out and implemented accordingly.
Building the brand on social media
Beyond any consideration, it is always absolutely true that companies make branding (or promote their brand) on social media in order to attract the largest number of followers and transform as much as possible into customers – and maybe in “ambassador”, or credible testimonials; the important thing, however, is to “think” one’s presence on social networks according to the specific characteristics of this channel of interaction with the public, respecting the peculiar mechanisms of involvement and participation – also working with imagination and distancing itself from traditional parameters and to the style of classic marketing communication.
An illuminating example in this sense was provided a few years ago by PwC, a consulting firm specialized in auditing. This B2B enterprise, thanks to the #BallotBriefcase campaign on Snapchat, has not only won the Shorty Award for the originality of the initiative, but has managed above all to involve tens of thousands of people (among which, obviously, there were also many useful business contacts); in practice, PwC has highlighted its connection with the Academy Awards (better known as the Oscar Awards) – a bond that has been going on for 82 years under the banner of the counting of votes that decree the assignment of the famous statuettes.
Thanks to this campaign, it was possible to follow the journey made through the United States from the case containing the names of the winners, up to its arrival at the venue hosting the famous Award ceremony – something that aroused interest, curiosity and even enthusiasm from many people who follow the event on social media. After all, the idea was simple: to give an “online” media resonance to the (apparently secondary) work of the accounting officers in charge of guaranteeing the correctness of the voting operations that allow to assign a prize linked to the world of cinema and the star system that gravitates around, somehow capturing some of the popularity that sets it apart.
Finally, it should be added that about 80% of PwC’s employees are young people (digital natives) and it is probably from this type of people that the initiative has started to associate a work of a traditional (as well as extremely serious) type, and maybe even a bit ‘boring) to a context of direct interaction as that of social, where one thing to be successful must be very “cool”, “trendy” and fun.
The need for consistency in interactions with the audience
But there is something that, next to a vague sense of artificiality, is perhaps worse than the self-referentiality of the marketing message conveyed through social media: it is a discontinuous, occasional, irregular presence – it’s a bit like someone arrives, reads a proclamation that everyone should listen to and then disappear.
Social interaction feeds on the everyday, even if at times it can even be trivial; therefore it is necessary to propose contents and to make one’s own voice heard regularly (even if regularly, if necessary, respond to those who wish to dialogue with the brand). Not only that: everything must be consistent from the point of view of the concept in general, as well as significant as regards the content – and each element must reflect the image and the characteristic values of the brand.
In practice, novelties, stimuli and ideas are needed that keep the brand image alive and amplify its resonance among the public – bearing in mind that images and audiovisual documents have a greater impact than texts and are more frequently shared.
In confirmation of this, a survey by Socialbakers has shown that the images published on Twitter are twice as effective as text posts, so much so that the relationship between the two is 7 to 1 for the benefit of the contents graphics.
Publish content paying close attention
The bad news spread far more quickly than the good news and the tree that falls with respect to the proverbial growing forest makes more noise; unfortunately this rule also applies to social media and only bad publicity can ruin the long work done to get attention and credibility from the public – especially if the communication channel is effective, fast and pervasive as online social networks.
The global network incorporates geographical areas, cultures and languages, putting everyone in relationship with everyone; then you have to keep in mind the local peculiarities, since something that can be fun for someone, to others can be irritating or offensive.
In practice, before posting something, you have to pay attention to what, how and when (this is one of the reasons why the approach along the lines of the editorial calendar can be limiting) you do it; in other words, in order to communicate with social media, we must have a strong and continuous link with reality and with the present – otherwise we risk going off the subject or making the figure of one who comes from another planet.
In summary, the world of the Internet (and above all that of social media) is a dynamic reality in continuous evolution – not only technological, but above all of ideas. Being there means assimilating the rhythms, understanding the language, interpreting their feelings and respecting their (many) differences.