While social media is still a channel that many organizations are striving to figure out how to strategically leverage and even monetize, authenticity and transparency are increasingly critical. These were among the key themes highlighted at the MediaPost Social Media Insider Summit, last week in Lake Tahoe, CA.
Unfortunately this is still a lesson that many brands need to learn. According to Social Media Today, about 25% of companies are still using social media purely as a channel to promote content versus a channel to engage with customers and prospects. The problem with this plan is that, regardless off how big or well-known your brand is, you’re eventually going to lose fans and followers if all you continue to do is shout content at them, especially if it is not relevant content to those fans on that particular channel.
So what’s the trick? You have to make every connection on social media personal. Social media offers brands the opportunity to keep it real, show transparency in real time, and share the things your brand is passionate about. Here are 5 truths that will help you succeed on social media:
1. Authenticity creates loyalty. The surest way to get fans and keep them is to be authentic on social media. What does that mean? That means letting your fans see behind the curtain. That means making every fan moment matter. When fans engage with you, you have to engage back with them. Create a dialogue with your fans to let them know that they are an important part of your brand’s community. Never underestimate the power that social media can have, for you never know what great successes you can have, or what huge opportunities you can miss, by not engaging back.
A tough reality about being on social media is you’re not always going to get it right. But guess what? That’s OK! The real test is how you deal with your mistakes. The best policy is to be transparent, apologize (if needed), admit your mistake, and then go fix it. Then, depending on just how bad the mistake was, you can turn that into a social media case study. Write a blog post about the situation to tell your customers and followers what NOT to do on social media. Sometimes the mistakes are the best pieces of content to share.
2. Fans want to feel like they are part of something special. Activate these desires. Develop a list of your value propositions as they relate to your fans and followers and prioritize your messaging and updates accordingly. Creating a community that supports inclusion and belonging based on common goals and interests offers your fans a way to relate to your brand and each other.
3. Everything is a story. Stop telling your story, but rather let your customer tell your story instead. Alicia Jones, Manager of Social Media Marketing at Honda, presented an excellent example of this at SMIS, sharing the brand's #hondalovesyouback campaign. This powerful story started off showing how a struggling band shot a music video for one of their songs in the back of their Honda and posted it on social media. Honda saw this and decided to reciprocate their “gesture of love” by surprising them with the gig of a lifetime: the guest band on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (See the full story here):
Let your accomplishments shine through the voice of the customers. Let your wins be your customers’ wins. Your customers have powerful stories full of advice, thought leadership, and sometimes, emotion; and it’s these stories that can have a much better and more lasting impact for your brand.
4. Tough fans can raise your game. We get better when our customers and followers push us. Don't be afraid of a negative review or comment - just learn from it. Not everyone is going to love your brand all the time, and social media many times serves as the platform for people to share their discontent with you. The important thing is to learn from every negative interaction. These ‘tough fans’ are going to push you to be better at communicating and will show you what you need to improve on. They will force you to be more transparent. View social media as a means of keeping the pulse on your community- and therefore the lifeline to any and all necessary corrective efforts.
5. Spark conversations then let them happen. Remember, the conversation is not about you but about what matters to your customers and followers. Let your communities share their experiences, wisdom, and best practices.
By keeping these social media truths in mind, you will not only raise your game on social media, but you will become more aligned with your customers, fans, and followers. You will become known as a trusted and honest brand that engages with its fans and shares their successes.
Want to see some of our customer success stories? Check them out!