I’ll be honest; being part of Generation Y has made me pretentious. Not in a monocle-wearing, top hat-tipping kind of way, more so in the way I think social media should be used. Social media has become an extremely valuable tool for businesses and brands to market for very small costs. With this innovation in marketing comes a newfound responsibility for businesses. Companies must understand that social media doesn’t exist as just a tool to promote a product. Social media is an open forum to connect with your patrons on a personal level. Which will, if done correctly get them excited about your product.
One of the most difficult aspects of traditional marketing is convincing your audience that your brand is human or personal. Social media marketing completely removes that issue from the equation; businesses can now get feedback instantly and respond to any concerns or comments. I am still continually surprised at how many major corporations market to their audience like they are herds of cattle. Correctly using social media to connect with consumers comes down to a mixture of making personal connections on a wide scale format and supporting user interaction; both of which are not easily accomplished.
Making a Personal Connection
The concept of personally connecting with people while using social media sites may seem contradictory, but it can be done. In a social media marketing campaign to promote their 24-hour customer service, KLM Airlines took their strategy to Twitter and Facebook. KLM encouraged fans to ask questions on both social media sites; KLM then answered selected questions using 450 alphabet cards held up by the actual staff of KLM.
This is a brilliant marketing strategy for several reasons. The first is, KLM used the tried-and-tested user-submitted question technique also adopted by Old Spice. In addition to fans feeling like KLM wanted to hear what they had to say, KLM personally proved to customers that humans are reading and responding to their feedback.
By filming the alphabet responses, KLM also took the opportunity to create video that could be posted on a variety of sharing sites, increasing their social media reach.
Customers and fans must feel like your company is legitimately interested in what they have to say. Nothing is more disingenuous than automated email responses and Twitter direct messages.
Make People Want To Participate
Just because you tell your audience to do something over social media doesn’t mean they’ll do it. People need to feel like they are being rewarded for supporting your products. When the ill-fated ABC period drama Pan Am premiered in 2011, ABC used every creative resource they had in social media marketing.
Fans of the show could create their own crew IDs on Facebook, which could easily be shared. ABC also told Twitter users if they tweeted with the hashtag #PanAm they could be entered to win a vintage Pan Am travel bag.
If you think about it, ABC spent almost no money on promoting Pan Am via social media. The Facebook IDs were all digitally made and the price of one Pan Am travel bag is beyond minimal to the network. However, by enticing fans with free novelties, ABC assured that people would be talking about Pan Am.
Most businesses do not have the resources that ABC might have. Nonetheless, brands can still give away product without breaking the bank. The price of a few free products will by far outweigh the free social media marketing this strategy could generate.