Read time: 6 mins
Declining trust and lowered attention spans have ushered in a new era in marketing – the experience era. Consumers are craving more meaningful and immersive content from the brands they follow, content which allows them to become active participants, rather than passive consumers. A static social ad with a stock standard sales message is no longer sufficient when it comes to capturing audiences. In this new landscape interactivity, entertainment and connection is key. Brands need to apply a strategic lens to their social strategy to ensure they’re meeting consumer demand – or risk getting left behind.
Social is not a nice to have – it’s a have to have, which means that amongst all the noise, the challenge for brands is to create content that cuts through. Posts need to provide a compelling reason for audiences to follow, engage, and eventually, to purchase. This is especially relevant as we enter one of the busiest sales periods of the year; Black Friday Cyber Monday. As social channels become saturated with heavy discounting and sales messaging, brands that take a different tact in this period, whether it’s avoiding the discount altogether, or finding a more creative hook, are the ones that are well placed to leverage this opportunity.
While most ecommerce brands shift their strategies in favour of hefty discounts, there are notable examples of companies which have bucked the trend. In 2020 sneaker brand Allbirds raised the price of every product sold during November by $1 and funnelled the money towards Fridays for Future, a climate movement founded by Greta Thunberg. While this won them engagement and social kudos, the real win was on the way this shifted focus towards Allbirds impressive sustainability credentials, an important narrative for the brand and a driver of purchase intent amongst Gen Z consumers. This was a conversation they wanted to have, and Black Friday provided the right opportunity to control the narrative.
As we start to see an uptick in more sales driving content, one of the biggest mistakes brands can make is to constantly talk at audiences, instead of to them. Social has always been a two-way conversation whether it’s organic content or paid. If you’re putting big budget behind your Black Friday advertising, you need to have a community management strategy in place to control the flow of comments and messages that will come through. Users expect a seamless shopping experience and quick response time from brands. Letting negative comments go unchecked is a fantastic way to ensure your strategy backfires.
Engagement is not optional
Social is an opportunity to facilitate productive dialogue between brand and customer – sales period or not. If your social content isn’t sparking lively and at times passionate discussion amongst followers, then it’s safe to say there’s a trick missing in your strategy. These conversations are a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Whether it’s as simple as understanding customer pain points, or driving engagement, effective content paired with community management is a winning combination that can be used to great effect. A well-timed tweet can be amplified to reach new audiences and convert them into loyal brand advocates. A strategic mix of content that provides personalisation with professionalism is the way of making your mark on social.
Think about some of the most iconic brands on social and it’s unlikely that their sales messaging or awesome deals and discounts spring to mind. The brands that get it right leverage social as an opportunity to tell a story – and you remember the story, not how deep their discounting strategy was. When they do discount and go harder on conversions it’s very often underpinned by a strong brand narrative which helps anchor this content.
Connection is key
Connection is the new currency and consumer expectations of brands on social are high. A study from Sprout shows that 72% of surveyed consumers expect brands to be a positive contributor to society and 64% expect them to use their influence to help people. 43% expected brands to act as a leader in society. These requirements of brands are not small – and they’re not met with a conversions campaign. No longer is it enough to provide the right product or service – people want to feel a sense of affinity with a brand before they choose to support it. While discounting will get you a quick sale and can be used in a customer acquisition strategy, it’s the brand story you establish in the background that’s going to keep those customers you win engaged and spending long term.
Are there any brands out there getting it right? Plenty. Go-to Skincare is a great example of a brand that has established a recognisable tone of voice and consistently hit the right mix of informative, product-focused and brand building content. A quick scroll of their Instagram shows content highlighting sustainability credentials and charity work as well as valuable information about product and application.
Go-to Skincare is synonymous with founder Zoe Foster Blake. When a CEO has an active social presence, consumers typically feel more connected to that brand – as though you’re transacting with a real person, not a company. Social born brands are often a great example of social media done right. Building and nurturing a community fosters an intimate understanding of customers, helping drive decisions at every level from product development through to customer service.
Another smart way to tell your story is by engaging influencers and ambassadors to do the talking for you. Nike are particularly skilled at this. To bring their Just Do It mantra to life athlete sponsorships are key. Audiences can watch the journey of these high-performance individuals and engage in the story, helping to foster a deeper brand to consumer connection.
The secret to humanising your brand on social? No secret – just consistent, engaging content tied to an overarching brand promise. Big brands and small alike can start making moves to ensure their content is helping to establish longer term loyalty – outside of a sales cycle. While it’s great to see a short term rise in sales and Black Friday can be an impactful part of your marketing plan, the real winners in the social game always keep their eyes on the horizon and think about the longer-term wins while also reaping short term gains.