When we were little, way back in the primitive, pre-social media age, businesses used to follow a very different set of marketing tactics than they do now. People used to read newspapers, they used to find illustrious ads for sodas and soaps in them. Because people used to watch T.V., they used to sit through talking baby or a monkey in a suit commercials. Because when people used to stop at traffic lights back then and look about, they used to stare up at massive billboards hanging over their heads, watching the porcelain white teeth of Jessica Alba, smiling as she endorsed some cosmetic product.
But then, with the coming of Facebook, everything changed. It’s funny to think that what started as a simple college project in a dorm room at Harvard, should grow up to become the hinge of the modern world. Now, traditional marketing practices seem juvenile and futile. In the wake of the social media boom, traditional marketing has taken a back burner, and social media marketing is what’s hot now. The biggest allure social media has to offer to brands is the exposure to the large number of users that log on to these social media platforms on a daily basis.
Facebook, the undisputed king of the social media spectrum, has 2.23 billion monthly users! And following close in its footsteps is Facebook-owned Instagram with 400 million monthly users. Furthermore, because of its massive user base and strictly mobile nature, Instagram is on its way to becoming the most powerful social media marketing tool for brands all kinds.
World class brands advertise their products via various social media platforms, using images and videos. Smart brands are using cunning social media marketing tactics to come in their users’ good graces and are generating significant profits. And today we will learn how you can devise a proper social media marketing strategy and spread brand awareness.
Let’s get started then!
1. Clarity of Goals
Before you can come up with a proper marketing strategy, you need to be absolutely certain about what you want out of it. Do you want to sell your product? Do you want to spread brand awareness? Do you want to introduce a new product to your customer? WHAT DO YOU WANT? Should be the first question you tackle. You don’t sail off into the ocean without a proper map or a destination in your mind; you’re not Christopher Columbus, remember.
In this case, writing down your goals is always a good idea. This way you can approach them better since they are not just a bunch of electrical charges jumping inside your cranium but now they have an actual, material form on a paper in front of you.
But also keep in mind that you don’t aim too high. Reach for the stars is a fine saying and all, but remember to either have sufficient rocket fuel to get you there or a parachute for when you plummet to your death. What we’re trying to say is- don’t set goals you don’t have the resources to achieve. Be realistic with your expectations. To create proper goals, you can follow these tips:
- Use numbers. For example, with a particular campaign, you aim to reach ten thousand Instagram users.
- Set a deadline
- Be very specific and make your goals smart. It is also a good idea to be a little flexible about your goals, tweaking them on the way as market twists and turns.
- Make your goals parallel to your marketing strategy.
2. Research your audience
Now that you know what you want, the next question that arises is- how you get it? The first step to forming a successful brand awareness campaign is thorough research on your target users. This can be broken down into the following phases:
- First, find out what user group you want to target. This information will be derived from your brand type and the type of products or services you provide. Not all age, ethnic, and gender groups will be attracted towards any one product. For example, if your company sells hair styling gel, then there is no point in targeting people over thirty because a hair styling gel is a young man’s product.
- The next phase is how you get to your target users. How to best create a campaign which will connect with them? Youngsters are always after trends while aged people are somewhat more traditional, so you might want to keep in mind to not to generalize your marketing approach. What works for one group, might not for others.
- Then comes the phase where you make sure that your adequately calibrated ad campaign, hits the mark. It is no good to anyone if it is not appropriately promoted and on platforms that your target user base has more frequent access to.
3. Harness the power of contests
Contests are a quick way to bring traffic to your sites and create brand awareness. Giveaways and contests together get your users excited about you and your brand, and this will increase user engagement, visibility, and likes for your brand’s social media page.
Some important tips for running a successful social media contest are:
- The fundamental block of every successful contest is a valuable offering. Make sure you give your users something that will excite and entice them towards your brand.
- Then figure out goals. They should be in numbers, as in the number of likes, followers and views.
- Come up with a deadline and all throughout the tenor of the contest, keep your users on the edge of their seat. Create compelling content which creates an urgency in them to participate in it.
Also, promotion is also a key player here. But you have to be smart. You alone can promote only so much. So it is a great idea to have your users promote this contest for you. You add other incentives for them if they, let’s say, mention your page on their Instagram post, or they tag you in a post. Or something like, if you share our contest X number of times on Pinterest, then your chances of winning the contest increases by Y. This way, once you have created the contest, it pretty much runs itself.
4. Engineer your social-media content carefully
Posting just for the sake of posting is always disastrous. Remember that you are not running a personal profile here. You have an image to maintain in a market where brands disappear overnight. So make sure that whatever content you create, is spot-on.
Furthermore, create content according to the platform and its shortcoming. For example, while LinkedIn is a platform for professionals to connect with other professionals, Instagram and Pinterest are both visual social media tools, so you cannot create the same type of content for these contradicting platforms.
Then the next thing you need to take care of is your write-ups. First and foremost, your captions should never be empty. What you write must be short, and it should be written in a way that your users are able to connect with it. Bombarding them with flowery words will also be a significant setback for you. Keep your language simple, witty if possible, and to the point. You have got only a couple of characters, so make sure you make the most of it.
5. Don’t be annoying
Don’t be like telemarketers on social media. These are not the times they once were. Now people don’t just care about buying something from a brand. They care about the brand they buy it from. They look to connect with their brands, and the most self-destructive thing these brands can do is keeping it all about the business.
We are in times where nothing is JUST about business. Brands need to prove it to their users that they are worthy of their business. That they care about things just as much as they do. They need to show that they are politically correct, they need to prove that they don’t support gender and racially based stereotypes; brands need to make their users believe that they CARE.
So you need to generate your content according to that. Don’t just talk business on your social media posts. Talk about politics, take sides (valid ones), support and call-out to people to help those who are in need. These things will immediately put your brand in a better light and people will start directing towards it. But make sure that you’re not just pretending to be supportive, because users can always tell and if they find out that you’re just a big ol’ phony, then you’re doomed.
6. Videos are your allies
In the past few years, there has been a great shift in the type of content that is shared on social media platforms. We are quickly moving from images to videos. Cisco revealed in a study that by 2021, most consumer traffic would be delivered by videos.
There are a lot of different ways for you to use these videos. Starting from the small videos which you can post on your profile and stories, to bigger videos which now IGTV lets you post, there are many tools you can use.
The key to creating successful video content is coming up with a proper concept and then carrying it out.
The Guardian has appointed an interesting way to generate brand awareness and engage users at the same time on their Instagram page. It is a weekly quiz segment called, Fake or for Real. Hosted by The Guardian Journalist Leah Green, this quiz segment throws at you a bunch of news which may or may not be true.
What Leah does is, tell you something, and then asks you, using Instagram’s poll sticker, to vote whether this news was real or fake. It’s fun and really interesting to know how many bizarre things happen around us, and for The Guardian, it’s a great way to get more engagements.
Then comes the term called- going live. Facebook and Instagram allow you to stream videos live to all your users. They can tune into your live feed and comment and react on it. This can be used during brand events or some factory visits as well.
Instagram itself is no stranger to using its video feature. Every week, Instagrams features new artist and displays his/her artform or share their stories as their Instagram stories. Potters, painters, sculptors, musicians, Instagram covers them all, even Skateboarders, too! They also take requests for featured content from other profiles. As a social media platform, this gives Instagram a well-deserved tag of a community which cares about and supports artists.
7. Engaging images are a great asset
Though the trend is shifting towards video content, images still hold a lot of relevance. Instagram and Pinterest exist specifically to share your pictures. So it is needless to say that your social media content must have captivating photos.
A properly created poster or an announcement post with a colorful image which captures the attention of your users will work miracles for your brand awareness campaign. Due to the dwindling attention span, people these days respond a lot more to visual content than write-ups. So naturally, a lot rides on the images that you share on your social media profiles.
Some tips to creating eye-catching images to enhance your brand awareness are:
- Use soothing colors. Though having cheerful colors is a good idea, make sure that they are not so bright they hurt the eyes. You need to hit the perfect middle ground when it comes to your color themes.
- Create images of proper aspect ratios. If you are a frequent user of apps like Instagram, then you may have noticed that images that you share as your posts, have to be of a certain size, or else they get cropped. Furthermore, images that you share as stories have to be longer than those you share as posts, or else, they will either be too zoomed-in or too zoomed-out.
- Design an image according to its purpose. Be clear what you’re designing an image for- an image to be put up as a cover image on Facebook or Twitter, an image to be shared as a story, post, or an image to be put as your profile picture.
8. Trends will be your driving force
There is a term which you may have read somewhere in someone’s blog or something- a trend chaser. It has a rather negative connotation to it. What it means is a person who is keeping up to date with today’s times. A person who likes to shop at new and trendy shops, eat at trendy restaurants, use trendy gadgets; all and all, it is a term used to define a person who is up with times. And it can be used to describe a substantial chunk of the world’s population, especially youngsters.
So you as a brand need to be up with trend as well. And this goes beyond just a specific ad campaign. It is a matter of brand image. How do you want the world to see you? As some traditional brand or as a brand which is bold, new, and ready to evolve with time.
When we talk about social media marketing, following the trends can be a great way to improve brand awareness. Every new trend, when it first comes up, has a lot of haters and a lot of supporters. So when you decide to go with the trend, you are choosing to side with the part of the population which is not afraid to try new things.
Some on-the-rise social media marketing trends are- live video feeds, story polls, IGTV content, and Instagram influencers.
Now let’s stop here and have a brief discussion about the term Instagram influencers, or any other digital celebrity for that matter. The first thing you need to understand is that the currencies of the social media realm are likes and following. How much people want to know about you and how much they care about you, it is all about that.
There are fitness models with millions of followers and verified profile statuses. Iskra Lawrence and Jen Selter are only two of them. Then there are gaming celebrities like Ninja, Pewdiepie, and Lia (or as she is known as S S Sniperwolf), who rose to stardom on platforms like youtube and now Twitch(image), by streaming their gameplay sessions and have a massive following.
Big stars like superstar DJ Marshmello, Niall Horan, and Cara Delevingne are some of the most prominent Instagram influencers as well.
These celebrities are able to bring a lot of attention to your brand so it might be a good idea to partner up with them.
9. Connect with your users
We said it in the beginning as well, customers are not looking just to buy things, they are looking to buy things from brands which stand for something they believe in. It is all about making bonds with your users. So as a step in this direction, it is always a good idea to reply to your customers on their comments on your various profiles. Also, having a brief dialogue with them on various forums is also a good idea.
Also, after the recent Facebook tragedy, it has grown substantially hard for brands to reach their customers. Facebook changed its algorithm to make sure that its regular users see a lot more content from their friends, followers, etc, rather than brands. So making a Facebook page popular has become a tricky task. A way around it can be creating a Facebook group. It will give you the following perks:
- Increase your website traffic
- Promote your products and services
- Engage and connect with your audience in an authentic way
Furthermore, using hashtags can be a great way of reaching new customers who are looking for some very specific stuff.
10. Tools and Promotion
There are multiple tools that you can appoint to help you with your social media campaigns.
To automate your social media posts and to bypass the timezone problem which brands with an international following face, tools like – Buffer, Social Jukebox, Missinglettr can be used.
You can compare these tools among each other and choose the ones that fit your budget and requirements.
And finally the last thing you need to remember- promotion is paramount. Doesn’t matter how great your content is, if it can’t be reached, then it’s a waste. So you need to make sure that your users can get to it.
Above mentioned tools can be incredible assets for you as far as promotion is concerned. Also, keep in mind that your content is sensible- as in it doesn’t stir up bad sentiments towards your brand in any community. Your content must be for a diverse audience; make sure that it just doesn’t follow a single group either. Create diverse content for a diverse audience. Some of the tips for an effective promotional campaign are:
- Take SEO very seriously
- Use influencers which are hot in your industry at the moment.
- Cross-promote between your profiles on various social media platforms.
Social media marketing can prove to be challenging waters. A lot of it depends on trends and trends are continually changing, and that demands that we change along with them. Sometimes the social media platform changes its algorithm, and the approach that we were using to promote our brand becomes useless as Instagram did. But still, if you’re passionate enough about the brand, you represent, then these are only minor hurdles. Using the tips mentioned above, you can increase your brand awareness and start generating hefty profits.