It’s hard to believe the decade is already over. From the emergence of new social media platforms to innovations in marketing, the last 10 years have been defined by rapid change that’s kept brands on their toes.
And while it’s difficult to predict what the next 10 years of social media marketing holds for brands, the goals for marketers remain more or less the same. Strengthening connections with customers and turning social data into actionable insights will continue to be top priorities for organizations headed into the new year.
With a greater understanding of today’s social landscape, enterprise marketers can turn their attention towards elevating social media into the powerful business driver it can be. Marketers can use social data to achieve a variety of goals, whether it’s to stand head and shoulders above the competition or to improve business operations.
As enterprise businesses prepare their social media strategies for 2020 and beyond, we’ve identified five key strategies all marketers should consider to set themselves up for success.
1. Emphasize your brand’s differentiators
Consumers today have more brand options than ever before—and that spells trouble for enterprises trying to reach their intended audiences. As consumers navigate the options available to them, Sprout’s own research reveals 76% of consumers will shop with a brand they’re connected to over a competitor.
Creating connections starts when marketers focus on the things that make their brand unique. Highlighting differentiators, like what your brand stands for and why it was created in the first place, is one way to attract customer attention and loyalty. And instead of relying on your gut to tell you what those differentiators are, consider leveraging quantitative and qualitative data to inform your next move.
Netflix, for example, makes a point of emphasizing the streaming service’s unique brand value proposition across all of its social media platforms. From posting exclusive behind-the-scenes content to creating dedicated Twitter handles for its audience segments, Netflix uses its uniqueness to stand out from other streaming competitors.
2. Create content like a consumer
As marketers begin preparing their social content calendars for the year, relevance is key. Sprout research reveals more than 50% of consumers will unfollow brands that post irrelevant content.
Instead of guessing to see what content sticks with audiences, brand marketers should invest the time to understand how consumers use social media and what topics are most important to them. Social listening can help marketers discover emerging trends to capitalize on and insights on how people perceive a brand, its industry and its competitors. The NBA, for example, recognized it was struggling to connect with a younger and more female audience, so the league moved to TikTok to grow its fan base.
In addition to brainstorming new content ideas, enterprise marketers should take stock of their existing assets and evaluate what’s worked (and hasn’t worked) for their brand. Consider conducting a year-end audit to identify your top-performing social content and to help you determine what worked (and what didn’t). As you start to build out your 2020 social strategy, don’t make assumptions—put on your consumer hat and learn what content your audience actually wants to consume.
3. Build a community of raving fans
Now that you have your audience’s attention and you’re producing content they love, it’s time to take the brand-consumer relationship to the next level. Once you’ve figured out the content equation, brands need to focus on building communities of loyal fans. These are the consumers who will support your brand during the tough times, serve as brand advocates and provide candid feedback to make your business better. Transparency also helps brands turn customers into loyal followers; 85% of consumers will stick by businesses during a crisis if it has a history of being transparent.
But building strong communities starts with trust, and only 34% of consumers currently trust the brands they buy from. Fostering that trust starts when brands invest more time in getting to know their consumers and building connections with customers over social media. How does your audience engage with your existing content? What content resonates with your customers and what topics inspire the most engaging conversations?
Consider how Peloton built a Facebook community for its loyal fans, giving riders a space to connect with other customers to talk about all things Peloton-related. Likewise, Wistia leverages Slack to create a community for brand marketers to share branding tips with each other and at Sprout Social we run a Facebook group for digital and social marketers to build relationships with one another. When brands take the time to understand their customers’ shared interests, they’re able to craft strong online communities and deepen those feelings of connections with consumers.
4. Democratize your social data
In the past, very few employees outside of the social and marketing team had anything to do with social. But for brands to get ahead of the competition, everyone within the organization should leverage insights from social media to elevate their processes, decisions and products and services. The problem? Not every team outside of marketing truly understands the impact social data can have on their day-to-day operations.
For social teams to expand their influence organization-wide, start by identifying what your colleagues on sales, people and demand generation teams care most about. When demonstrating social’s impact on sales, for example, ask yourself what key metrics matter to someone on sales and what data they need to do their jobs better. Then demonstrate how social data aligns with those teams missions, goals and objectives based on your discovery. Cloudera, for example, leverages social listening to improve their content strategy to increase website traffic and improve lead generation efforts.
One way to demonstrate the impact of social is by compiling a social state of the customer to share internally with teams. Not only does a report of this scope highlight how social data applies to all parts of the organization, it’s also an opportunity for marketers to collaborate with teams they don’t normally work with. Proactively bringing key social insights to the people outside of your department and educating teams on how social brings value to their work, you stand to increase your influence beyond your immediate team.
5. Give social a seat at the executive’s table
This year, make it a priority to elevate your social strategy across the entire organization by adopting an executive mindset. Don’t wait for senior leaders to come to you for help—be the trend-getter and proactively surface social insights and recommendations to share with your executive team.
For individuals on marketing or social teams, consider using listening to unearth high-level insights that matter most to someone at the executive level. What sort of suggestions or recommendations might you offer based on your findings? And how can your executives use those findings to positively contribute toward their goals?
Additionally, marketing executives need to recognize their role in advocating for the value of social to their peers. Actively communicate the impact of social and its contributions to your business’ bottomline. The more prepared you are to demonstrate how social media contributes to ongoing initiatives, the better you’ll be able to get leadership teams to pay attention and understand the significance of social media.
Take your social strategy to new heights
Enterprises are starting to recognize just how impactful social media can be. Thanks to social data, organizations are better equipped to deepen their relationships with customers and make smarter business decisions.
As social marketers look ahead to 2020 and beyond, now is the time to think of ways to take your social strategies to the next level. Start with understanding and emphasizing what makes your brand unique, and investing in your community. Have a goal-oriented plan in place and think about the insights and recommendations you can offer other teams using social data. With an elevated social strategy—one that permeates all parts of the organization—enterprise marketers can set themselves up for success that will last well into the next decade.
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