We spend around 145 minutes every day on social media — that’s up 55 minutes from 2012, which is a pretty significant increase in a relatively short space of time.
But it’s not the time spent on social media that brands should be taking note of; it’s how that time is being spent. Users are buying through social media more than ever before; they’re building connections with brands across multiple platforms. And 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media.
If that statistic isn’t enough to coax you into building a solid brand presence on social media, then check out what else we have to say on the matter.
Brands Are Causing Problems For Themselves
Social media offers brands the chance to show a personal side. It’s a space where you can instigate direct conversations about topics that reflect your values and enables you to build an emotional connection with audience members.
It’s not like a website that might get updated once a week; most marketers share social content 3 to 4 times per week. Social media holds the power to facilitate two-way communication en mass, which is unlike any other marketing channel.
But, it seems a lot of brands are still using social media as a megaphone. Tracy L. Tuten writes in her book Social Media Marketing that 95% of brands studied are stuck in “broadcast” mode — which is basically shouting about themselves. Fewer than 40% of brands ever ask their followers questions, and only 2% consistently responded to their follower’s comments about the brand.
It would seem brands are their own worst enemy; they’re creating an empty void filled with self-promotion that will eventually disenfranchise the followers they do have. This is not the path to building brand engagement.
How to Use Social Media to Build Brand Engagement
Employ emotional understanding
Companies are slowly realizing that to stand out in a competitive marketplace, they need to focus on building audience emotional attachment through their social channels. This means ditching the hard sell and focusing on authentic conversations.
Focusing on emotional connections doesn’t just help businesses remain socially competitive; it also creates more valuable consumers:
Otley, P. (2016, March 23). “Can you feel it? Why brands must focus on emotional connection”. Digital Pulse.
64% of consumers want brands to connect with them. But what does “connect” really mean? According to Sprout Social, 44% of consumers say they would feel more connected to brands if they create, participate in, or even host relevant conversations online.
It’s all about listening to what your audience truly wants and delivering it.
This strategy is about tapping into what makes your audience tick, not just once but consistently. Find out what they care about, establish creative social conversations to engage them on an emotional level, and show them that you care about the same issues and causes.
Putting aside our primitive needs, when creating social content, turn to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Above the basic needs of food, water and shelter, lie ego and social needs. Needs including belonging, inclusion, self-esteem, power, recognition and inclusion, can all be applied to your social strategies.
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and this is your opportunity to deliver that. You need to create more than just a sprinkling of sporadic posts, but think of the bigger picture and how can your brand help support your audience and deliver on these needs.
Only focus on social platforms your audience is active on
Many brands see a new platform pop up, and they gravitate towards it, creating a profile as quickly as possible. But here’s why you shouldn’t do that: firstly, you need to concentrate your resources strategically on platforms your audience is actively using. Secondly, rushing into any old platform could damage your brand.
Let’s say you create a TikTok profile because it’s all the rage right now. However, you don’t really understand it or how it could work for your business because you’ve jumped in too quickly without assessing:
A. Whether your audience is even on TikTok B. What kind of content will perform well for your brand.
By doing this, you’re just removing direction away from your mission of brand engagement.
A quick social demographic overview: 26% of the UK TikTok audience is aged 18-24, 33% of Instagram users are between the ages of 25-34, the 25-34 age bracket is also the most prominent segment for Facebook users.
You can use the above stats as a guide, but to truly understand which platform your audience is on, you can do two things:
Ask them what they’re using: Survey your customers and find out which platform they prefer for which kind of content. Check out the competition: What platforms are they having success with? Use social listening tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer to keep tabs on their content performance.
If you know your audience is on Facebook, consider searching groups to understand your audience better. There are 1.8 billion people using Facebook groups — and there’s pretty much a group for any topic you can think of.
As a business, you can start a group of your own around your shared values with your audience to connect with them on that emotional level, without an ounce of sales or promotion talk.
It’s what consumers want.
23% of consumers want to see brands engaging in private community groups. This setting means you’re on neutral ground, bonding over a shared interest, indirectly building brand engagement.
How to Increase Brand Engagement on Social Media
It’s all well and good discussing how you should approach social media to influence brand engagement, but real-life examples can help you realize what is truly possible for your brand.
We’re focusing on three brands with three very different social platform strategies.
User-generated content with Cupshe
Swimwear brand Cupshe has almost 1 million followers on Instagram. How? The team is smashing it with user-generated content. Their strategy plays into the hands of women who want recognition for their photos - tapping into Maslow’s need for inclusion, belonging, and recognition.
This strategy is reciprocal: the user gets their content seen by thousands of people and the brand gains exposure for their swimwear - without having to lift a finger.
Source: Cupshe Instagram
In their bio above, you can see Cupshe is actively encouraging users to share pictures using its handle and dedicated hashtag. By creating its own hashtag, the brand can easily keep track of brand mentions and measure brand awareness.
Facebook Group marketing with National Geographic
National Geographic is an excellent example of a brand engaging its audience with shared values and shunning self-promotion. Its Facebook group, named “Women of Impact”, has over 70,000 members and “is a space for everyone who is invested in and passionate about women breaking barriers in their fields, changing their communities, and exploring the world.”
The brand has built a strong community and is dedicated to learning about the lives and work of women it believes deserve a spotlight. This brand engagement tactic is subtle and keeps National Geographic in the minds of its community members without forcing them to buy any products or services. In the meantime, they’re bonding over shared interests in remarkable women.
Source: Women of Impact Facebook Group
Relevant Social Content with BooHoo
UK clothing giant, BooHoo, is a great example of a brand engaging its audience with the right kind of content. Their content is fun and always relatable. They pick up on trends quickly and keep their tone conversational.
In January, it was reported that the popular TV show Bridgerton (designed for Gen Z and millennial audiences) was rated the most-watched original Netflix series ever, pulling in 82 million households. As soon as news broke that series two was being filmed, BooHoo jumped straight on the news, eager to share it with its social audience.
The tweet (below) garnered over 3,000 likes and more than 400 retweets. That short, six-word phrase generated a lot of exposure for the brand. It shows communicating with your audience can be effortless when you know them well.
Source: BooHoo Twitter
Hopefully, you’re leaving this post feeling inspired to rejig your social media approach. Social media directly influences brand engagement, and to treat it as a way of broadcasting company updates and new products only is a waste of your resources.
It’s not about you; it’s about your customers. Don’t approach social media solely to sell
Focus on building a social community around shared values
Create authentic content experiences for your audience, get them involved in your content
Ditch the social platforms your customers aren’t actively using
Stay on top of trends and news that your audience cares about and incorporate them into your social strategy