It’s hard to imagine what the past two years would have been like without social media. As Pew research shows, nearly one-third of adults admit to being online nearly all the time.
This level of consistently high connectivity shouldn’t be ignored, especially by businesses eager to forge stronger relationships with consumers. But it can be difficult for company leaders to know how to make the most of their social sides. That’s why I’ve asked four marketing experts to provide advice on adapting to an increasingly social world in celebration of Social Media Day on June 30.
1. Social Is Usurping the Traditional Website: Maura Kautsky, President at Sales Xceleration
From Maura Kautsky’s point of view, social media pages have taken over the role of traditional websites in many ways. That’s why she tells her Advisors to update their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages diligently. Prospects can review Advisors’ posts, check out their connections, read reviews, and watch videos.
This informal type of “social investigation” gives potential clients a better understanding of whether they want to connect. And from Kautsky’s experience, many prospective buyers who like what they see on an employee’s social media accounts end up converting to clients.
How can you take this advice and make it work for your team? First, make a plan to stay current on the many ways social channels are evolving. Keep an eye on more traditional channels, such as blogs, as well as up-and-coming social apps. She also recommends encouraging all your customer-facing employees to post at least every few days: “If you don’t post each week, it doesn’t give people a reason to follow you,” Kautsky says. Of course, you’ll want to continue this type of focused engagement on your corporate pages, too.
2. Social Selling Is a Must-Try: Doug Wilber, CEO of Denim Social
Doug Wilber’s a big fan of social selling, which he feels is key to making authentic connections. “People buy from people,” he says. “In the context of social media, that means brands need to activate their most important assets—their people—on social media to be successful.”
Wilber’s concentration on developing a social selling strategy for expanding social reach and driving purchases is supported by research. A LinkedIn report explains that sales reps who put a premium on humanizing interactions through social selling tactics find themselves with 45% more opportunities. Not surprisingly, this leaves them 51% more apt to achieve their goals.
You can’t just increase your number of posts and chalk up what you’re doing to social selling, though. As Wilber is quick to remind other marketers, social selling isn’t about publishing fun or interesting posts. It requires mapping out each customer persona’s digital journey through your entire marketing funnel. For instance, some of your intended social engagement will be meant to drive awareness. Other engagement vehicles may be more suitable for gaining leads. Therefore, you need a full-fledged strategy to get the full effect and reap the benefits of social selling.
3. The Rise of Video and Social Creators as Essential Marketing Partners: Ed McLarnon, SVP and Regional Experience Strategy Lead, East, of RAPP
Video, video, and more video. That’s what Ed McLarnon sees as a major driving force of today’s social media. As he points out, video platforms like TikTok—which has surpassed 1 billion users—are heating the social scene. Videos offer ways for brands to connect with people based on everything from shared passions to aligned purposes. And video may have become the springboard for another social phenomenon: the creator economy.
“The growth of the creator economy is a shift away from what would’ve typically been seen as influencer marketing,” McLarnon says. “Brands are no longer able to buy authentic relevance from an [influencer] endorsement deal. For 2022, a new focus is on creators who take creative license with the material they produce and drive real connection.” One look at TikTok’s small, powerfully connected communities that serve as a mirror of popular culture buoys the strength of McLarnon’s argument.
Does this mean that you should start partnering with creators so you can potentially increase your social commerce? Not without understanding that to work with creators, you have to start from a point of respect. Creators expect to be understood and valued. Additionally, they don’t want to give up their artistic freedom just because you’re funding a video or post. You have to be at ease with developing a symbiotic partnership where you don’t get to set all the rules.
4. Go Short With Video to Drive Long, Lasting Connections: Adrian Si, Director of Marketing Strategy at ASV
Like McLarnon, Adrian Si sees a huge future for social video. Specifically, he sees short-form video as highly effective when compared with other types of social media content. He notes, “According to HubSpot, 64% of marketers are planning to invest more in short-form video in 2022. [And] people are watching more video online than ever before. In fact, the amount of online video they watch has almost doubled since 2018.”
Si thinks that the shorter videos will be a lasting trend that continues to dominate, at least for the foreseeable future. This means it may be a good time to dust off your brainstorming powers and come up with ways to incorporate shorter videos into your social media marketing plans. For instance, you may want to challenge your customers to create more user-generated short videos through contests on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. Accordingly, you’ll be able to see how your products and services are being used, and you’ll get a nice bit of PR in the process.
Remember that you can make short-form videos, too. Even if you’re in a B2B industry, you aren’t just selling to another company. You’re selling to people who are using social media to find out more about your business and brand. Consequently, consider using videos to nurture leads, showcase your differentiators, build brand authenticity, cement your thought leadership, and construct a branded community of fans.
Social media has long been an essential part of marketing for businesses, and its slice of the marketing pie is only growing. If you haven’t completely embraced social as part of your marketing toolkit, you’ll want to start so your brand doesn’t get left behind in the race to fuel digital connections.