Social media is a vital tool for large corporates to market their products and communicate with their vast audiences, but even with big budgets and top teams, they can still get it totally wrong.
For example, Charlie Cottrell, head of editorial at media agency,
We Are Social, thinks that big brands are still offending audiences on social media with worrying frequency.
Part of this stems from them being told that a millennial audience prefers companies that stand for something and reflect their progressive values, she explains. It’s likely because of this advice that campaigns have gone after stories with a strong social or cultural theme.
However, businesses run the risk of being accused of exploitation by not having a genuine connection to the cultural subject matter, thinks Ms Cottrell.
She says that “it’s better to be an ally, not a protagonist, and it’s important to remember that people have fought and suffered for lifetimes to see change on subjects such as civil and marriage rights.”
Brands and agencies must ensure that teams reflect the breadth of contemporary culture and stop trying to guess at it, she adds.
Mícheál Nagle, head of social and digital content at Paddy Power, advises businesses not to populate their social accounts with constant offers and products.
“Nobody wants to follow a business that does that,” he explains.
So what does a good social media content strategy look like? Paddy Power tries to create fun posts that engage with customers for 80pc of the time – and then try to upsell with products or offers for the remaining 20pc.
“It’s about cultivating a value exchange between a business and a consumer,” says TalkTalk’s senior digital marketing manager, David Brady. “If it’s not relevant, it’s not engaging.”
Mr Brady says that firms can find out what’s relevant to consumers by profiling them based on behaviours and needs (not by sales targets) and by asking what they need and how your business can help.
“You can then combine your first-party data with the wealth of personal and interest-based social data,” he says.
Above all, listen to what your customers are saying, he adds:
“Make it engaging by educating them about how your product or service solves a problem – don’t just shout about its features.
“Be conversational, but to the point.”
And remember, he says: you’re representing your business and its values, so just because memes are popular and easy to share, it doesn’t mean that you should.
Don’t blur the personal-professional line
Nick Masters, head of online at PwC, says that it’s important to consider the difference between a corporate social media account that shares company updates and info, and one manned by vocal or visible members of staff.
It’s an issue, he thinks, when employees post through company accounts, signing off posts with their initials or saying as such at the beginning of their shift.
Deliberately or not, accounts run in this way can become too
chatty (“cheers!”) and personal (“Hi Joe, love the post!”)
which Mr Masters thinks can sound inauthentic.
He says: “By their nature, organisations can’t express emotions or engage in public debate.
“We encourage PwC staff to have a personal presence on social media and engage directly through their accounts.
“It’s about real people responding in a more appropriate way.”
Feature Image: Credit: PA/Dominic Lipinski