Engage, entertain, influence
Whether or not you agree with the way he went about it, Donald Trump used social media as his trump card (sorry) to help elevate his position in the presidential elections and, ultimately, support his bid to win. Trump has 25 million followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and through strong opinion and controversy, he received 40 million mentions versus Hillary Clinton’s, still impressive, 26 million.
OK, so you may not have 25 million followers and we would not advise littering your social media feeds with polarising opinion, however, brands are turning to social media in a time when big marketing budgets are being slashed or purse strings are tight. With large brands such as the BBC and Virgin Atlantic cultivating customer engagement through social, it is now seen as one of the big tools in their marketing armour.
So how can you get the most out of your social media channels — the key is to encourage conversations, people crave connection, even digitally.
Hashtags are a great way to encourage engagement in a campaign and to utilise your audience interaction to build your brand reach. The clever use of a campaign hashtag has been key to many successful social media campaigns, especially as they are now recognised across multiple social platforms. Starbucks do this through a seasonal offering in December when they release their red cups in store. Starbucks start a #redcups campaign to encourage customers to share photographs of themselves with their red cup. In 2016 they released 12 new designs to the red cups, which were historically just plain red with the Starbucks logo, this caused further hype and conversation on social media. On release day the hashtag was tending above the John Lewis advert, with many equating the start of Christmas to the #redcups campaign.
A picture paints a thousand words
Airbnb ran a hashtag campaign #livethere, the idea that you could have the sense of living somewhere, even if just for the night. The hashtag gave the campaign an anchor on social media but the most important element was using captivating images, which is made slightly easier when you advertise places in tropical paradises, hip urban neighbourhoods and aesthetically pleasing homes!
Airbnb chose to use images of places that you could book through their platform, sharing suggestions on how you may spend your time at your new ‘home’. Often the photography showed people in situation to add context. The campaign was a result of consumer feedback, which indicated Airbnb’s strength was in its home from home experience and that holidayers felt like they had a more authentic experience; living there not just holidaying. People staying at an Airbnb property were then sharing their own experiences by taking a photograph and posting on social media and including #livethere.
Look who’s talking
Another key element is voice, you must be authentically you; your followers recognise your voice and regard it as an engaging voice. In our last Feel Good Brands workshop, on how to Sky Rocket your Brand on a Budget, we discussed the importance of brands being the consumer’s best friend — knowing them, responding to them, making them laugh and supporting them when they need your help. Look at brands whose voices resonate with you, think about your brand identity and chose a voice that is the best and most engaging version of your organisation.
A social media smoothie
One brand that does a glorious job at creating a brand voice, posting engaging content and using images to great effect, is Innocent Smoothies. Innocent taps into trends that are culturally appealing and then creates captivating material for their social feeds. Their ‘over time’ graphs, which plotted the BBC Planet Earth 2 shows proved very popular, drawing a simple timeline on a graph of the highs, lows, perils and moments of ecstasy of a Planet Earth episode. They have continued the ‘over time’ graphs due to their popularity, focusing on key dates such as their ‘New Year over time’ graph, which got 8628 likes, 663 shares and 886 comments on Facebook.
When Innocent do chose to post about their products it is usually very visual, such as an image of their drinks with a knowing comment or funny strapline. It is often that combination of a strong hashtag or strap line with a striking image that creates a social media post that followers want to connect with.