Fed up trying to get your head round social media and the right approach for your business? Well the most important thing to do is not give up, but keep trying, listening, adapting and learning and find the approach the works best for your business. Here Ryan Fuller, of specialist agency, Occupidigital which works with a number of premium spirits brands, set out the key steps to take to make social media work for your business.
Spirits brands have often shown the way when it comes to big above the line media campaigns, but as Ryan Fuller explains, they are also pretty adept at getting the message right on social media too.
Social media campaigns can be a waste of money. It is no different to any other advertising medium in that respect. It’s easy to think you’ll write a few posts a week and wait for the customers to come flooding in. Then once “real” targets need to be addressed it falls by the wayside.
However for all the warnings, there is one advantage that outweighs some, if not all, of the negatives. You may just need to change the way you think about social media.
Pay to Play
Complex algorithms decide what users see. Businesses that pay the most will come out on top. It’s how Facebook continues to grow financially. It’s an envious business model and one that shows no sign of slowing. Thirty years ago (that’s the 80s, by the way), it probably didn’t make financial sense for you to advertise in the national press. Think of social media like this. The networks survive on advertising spend. Instagram’s advertising team was built from newspaper ad sales teams because they knew the value of what the network had to sell.
So how can you avoid wasting money? The solution is not to approach social media as something you’re ill-prepared for. Or to think that it’s simply an indulgence or passing fad. There is value across all the networks if you know where to look.
Whatever your brand, whether you’re B2B or B2C, the most important three letters when it comes to social media is P2P. That’s Peer to Peer, but I like to think of it as Person to Person. No matter what sector you’re in, people want to have a conversation with brands. It might make sense to be known for a wicked sense of humour, being the first port of call for learners or the home of stunning photography. The brands that do it well have a clear strategy. The big players invest heavily in their marketing.
There’s a way to join in with the big players, you just have to think about the rules differently.
Think of social media as a customer service tool. Research by Bain and Company found engaging with customer service requests led to 20%-40% more revenue per customer. If you don’t need that kind of boost then carry on with your day. Business is a conversation. And you know what, sometimes it’s better to listen than keep shouting.
One of our clients, Brockmans Gin, regularly outperforms Hendrick’s, Aviation and Sipsmith in terms of audience interaction. That hasn’t come from nowhere and wasn’t down to expensive social campaigns. But brands with much larger followings haven’t leveraged that advantage for two reasons.
The first is to create content that your audience connects with. There’s no easy way round this. You either spend time getting to know them or find someone who can. It’s the cornerstone of any successful social media account. A recent Facebook live video in our “Press for Gin” campaign involves, rewards and entertains our followers. They know they’ll be entertained, if only for a second or two, when Brockmans appears in their timeline.
The second is to listen. We respond to most, sometimes all, of the comments, tweets and questions we receive on social. Following a new listing in a major supermarket, our content pushed followers to bricks and mortar stores. Unfortunately this meant a fair amount of disappointment as various fans let us know that their local store didn’t carry the bottle. This feedback has been instrumental in negotiating further distribution. Every social media manager worth their salt will talk about ROI and influencing sales, not all will achieve it.
For companies with limited time and budget, it makes no sense to wish their 100 followers or so a “Happy Friday #Friyay”. Why would I, as a user, bother to opt to receive updates like that. Rather they should listen out for pain points to make their customers’ lives easier, offering advice and to use that most cliched of cliches: adding value.
Posts are veritable data gold mines for those who know what to look for. But it’s not easy. Raw data is messy and overwhelming at the best of times. You can’t expect valuable insights to existing or new business to come easily. But it’s not impossible. How much of your day is dedicated to securing existing relationships? How many cold calls have you made this week? Don’t you wish you could know what your customers’ interests are?
Social media is not a flash in the pan. It is here and evolving quicker than you can say brettanomyces. In 10 years time it may not be the same networks but as long as there is internet, people will use it to communicate.
Whether you choose to speak or listen is up to you. But at least get a seat at the table.
Ryan Fuller is digital account manager for Occupi Digital, a specialist digital strategy and social media agency for premium drink brands with clients including Jameson, Laphroaig, Brockmans Gin, Koskenkorva Vodka and Auchentoshan.