By Ernan Roman
Reprinted from: Business 2 Community
The Challenge: Social media has evolved into more than just another advertising channel, with communities transcending traditional social media channels. To make the most of these new opportunities, marketers need to learn what it takes to drive sales through relevant and targeted conversations.
Strategy One: Be authentic to your brand… and to customers
Every brand that succeeds on social media does so by achieving a consistent voice that’s authentic to its core message. By connecting with a responsive social audience through communities, meaningful conversations become building blocks for achieving sales objectives. For example, CLIF Bar in keeping with its message of fitness has joined the People For Bikes initiative, which is consistent with its brand message, and provides a way to directly interact with their proven customers.
Per Eric Nystrom, Director, Social Media Services Group at Dell, “In today’s world people are not interested in talking to brand spokespeople or marketers. They are interested in connecting with empowered employees and subject matter experts. Social is about relationship building”.
Strategy Two: Connect through communities
Social communities resonate with customers and let brands connect on a deeper level via viral conversations which can far surpass the reach of a singular post on a social wall. As a matter of fact, social interactions now go beyond traditional social media into mobile experiences, television events, webinars, chats, and more. Two-way interactions enable customers to become part of the brand because they can gain answers to questions, address objections, and understand brand value. Coca Cola took advantage of the recent World Cup with the goal of creating the most inclusive FIFA World CupTM Coca-Cola campaign… ever. Emmanuel Seuge, Vice President Global Alliances & Ventures stated that, “…we set out to create the most inclusive and participatory FIFA World Cup™ ever. … we gave fans from all around the world the unprecedented opportunity to be a part of the greatest soccer stage of all… “
Strategy Three: Really understand how your customers connect
Turns out the way people interact on social media is similar to that of real life. In a joint study by the University of Georgia, Pew Research Center, and Social Media Foundation it was discovered that when people interact in social media they create patterns of social interaction. Identifying the specific groups of people talking about you, lets you understand who they are, what they are saying, and what connects them to your brand.
Strategy Four: Know where to find your customers and how they communicate
Additionally, the same study found that when marketers, target key meaningful communities they also zero in on key conversations, key words, and hashtags being used about the brand.
Gatorade reached out to its core customers with a “Beat the Heat” campaign that let them connect with their key groups of customers with a message of safety and health.
Strategy Five: Understand what information customers need
Sears has created Shop Your Way Rewards which gives customers a place to find product information, ask salespeople questions, and share recommendations.
According to Eric Jaffe, Senior VP “In the grand scheme of things, social media is …about building engagement and promoting conversations… around our brand…. We are focusing around the members, and building relationships with them that go beyond what they purchase from us…. Groups, especially social communities, are the most valuable to retailers….Highly engaged members end up spending more and — more importantly — shop more frequently.”
5 Takeaways that boost sales through social communities
1. Engage consistently in a manner that that reinforces your core brand message. Make sure that every channel delivers a reinforcing statement that helps customers move towards a purchase.
2. Understand which groups are the most valuable to your sales objectives. Not all consumers or social audiences have a purchase intent. Understand what social avenues best address buyers’ needs for actual purchase information.
3. Do what it takes to address consumer needs. Put in place strategies that let actual staff members interact with potential buyers so that they have access to the brand and have the resources necessary to move forward with a purchase.
4. Empower consumers to strengthen their voice. By giving your customers a platform you are empowering and respecting their voice.
5. Deliver the latest information, news and trends about your brand. If customers do not fully understand why they need to buy, they won’t go down the purchase journey with your brand. Social communities let existing customers and potential buyers understand what you are offering and your brand’s value proposition.