Social media has transformed marketing from a CB radio type model of communication into a more fluid, back-and-forth conversation between individuals. The time delay experienced on CB radios (or walkie-talkies) is a lot like how marketing used to work. A company would blast their message out and then wait to hear the customer response. When one party was talking, the other was forced to listen before having the opportunity to respond.
From CB Radio to Fluid Conversation
Today, with social media, marketing behaves more similarly to real-life conversations - people talk over one another and in group settings many people may all be talking at once.
In addition, the delay is nearly non-existent. Within seconds of uploading a video, posting a blog, or sending a tweet, a large company may have hundreds of reactions occurring simultaneously - comments, likes, retweets, etc.
Invite Customers to Talk With You
This fundamental change in how we communicate digitally offers huge opportunities for brands that embrace the changes and invite customers into conversations using social tools. Write blog posts that encourage conversations in the comment sections. Produce videos that are easily shareable and spark an emotional reaction that leads to action by the viewer.
Use your Twitter account to field answers to questions you might have. Crowd source new product or service features on Facebook by asking people what they would like to see from your company. By choosing to interact with your customers in a more natural way, organization can strengthen their relationships with customers and build brand loyalty.
Use these 4 strategies to invite customers into a conversation with your brand:
- Ask for reviews - Customer reviews on popular sites like Yelp and Amazon are insanely valuable to your company. People are often open to sharing their thoughts about a product or service when someone asks their opinion. Include a clear call-to-action at the end of a blog post or in sidebar real estate on your website. Some restaurants and retail shops even offer customers a small discount if they check-in to their locations on Yelp or Foursquare.
- Appreciate your brand advocates - Identify your organization's most active brand advocates and reach out to them personally with special offers or discounts to let them know how much you value their business. Positive word-of-mouth messages are one of the most powerful forms of marketing and will prove to your brand advocates just how much you appreciate them. This is a relatively simple way to ensure that they'll continue spreading the word about what you're doing in a positive light.
- Brand it with a hashtag - Come up with a clever hashtag and invite your social media fans and followers to post their own thoughts, content, photos, etc. alongside the hashtag. This creates both a feeling of community amongst the people participating and also goes a long way in spreading the word about your company to people who may have never been introduced to your brand before. People who post content branded with your content will be exposing your company to everyone in their social circles.
- Encourage content participation - This can be as simple as asking people to post photos or asking for opinions, or it can involve running a promotion or contest that requires audience participation. Whether you encourage participation in the form of a contest or just a general call for content, make sure to allocate resources to handle response volumes and be on the ready to engage with customers if they decide to converse with you over various channels. Also, it's often a good idea to promote user-generated content in your own channels when customers take the time to upload photos, videos, or responses to your request.
The Scarecrow Had a Brain After All
Delivering exceptional content is one of the best ways to keep your audience engaged in an open dialogue with your company. When Chipotle's animated video, The Scarecrow, went viral in 2013, it was a perfect example of how creating thoughtful, beautiful content is the most effective way to entice people into sharing your work and discussing your brand - all happening while you earn a lasting memory in the minds' of your customers.
Chipotle garnered over 5 million views on YouTube in just one week and a Google search of "Chipotle the scarecrow" now generates 256,000 results. When the video came out everyone was talking about it and it not only kept Chipotle's name at the top of everyone's mind that week, it also effectively started a real conversation around a serious issue that the world faces - the business of big agriculture.
It's important to remember that while this video was great on its own - the story, animation, music and production value were all high - it wouldn't have been able to accomplish a fraction of what it did without the input and participation from viewers. The feedback loop provided by social media channels was the reason the video was able to make the impact it did.
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