As social media platforms grow and expand it is vital to stay ahead of the curve with this necessary marketing tool to remain competitive in any market. Since the pandemic, the need for social media marketing has only increased. The Harris Poll surveyed over 1000 consumers and found that “Consumers use of social to discover or learn about new products or services increased 43%—a trend that’s expected to continue in the next three years. Just over one-third of consumers also follow and interact with brands more than they did a year ago, and expect that to increase in the future.”
Consumers also report feeling more loyal to a brand that they have had a positive personal interaction with and 58% say they are more interested in a brand after seeing it in a Story according to this Hootsuite article. As social usage increases, brand marketing will also increase making all industries more saturated on the major platforms. Brands have to make their voice very clear and remain consistent with engagement to even be relevant.
In a social media strategy seminar on LinkedIn, I recently had the pleasure of listening to insights from major brand accounts on Tik Tok and Instagram. The resounding message was that social platforms are truly about being social - and not so much about selling anything. Brands like Duolingo use social platforms to execute brand awareness exclusively and have no intention of judging the success of their social media strategy on sales or sign ups. But why?
Consumers want to align with the brands they purchase from. If they align, they will eventually buy. Since we are in the age of “Behind The Scenes” - the consumer wants the inside scoop and the cutting edge of everything.
It has to feel curated to the specific audience.
It has to fit the brand aesthetic.
It has to suit the “vibe.”
And that is just the baseline. Many practice conscious consumerism and therefore have even higher standards for where they choose to put their hard earned money. They want transparency, sustainability and interestingly, they want to be educated by the brands that they consider to be “experts” in their industry.
So it’s no surprise that the Sprout Social Harris Poll found that 85% of the 250 business executives surveyed will consider social media as a primary source of business intelligence. Why wouldn’t they? With IG and Tik Tok boasting 1.2 billion and 1 billion users respectively, there is no better way to gauge public interest, gather consumer data, and learn how to align with your audience.
To really drive the point home, here’s a few examples of brands that are aiming to align with their audience first, and sell something second:
Dove is a fantastic example of this. If you take a few minutes to look at their IG you’ll see a lot of content about female empowerment, and a campaign to help users #DetoxYourFeed. This hashtag is an effort for Dove to lead their audience to unfollow beauty brands that uphold antiquated or harmful beauty standards. It’s clever isn’t it? To have a whole campaign that helps your audience remove a bunch of your competitors from their view in an effort to #detox their IG feeds? Personally, I find it brilliant, and I think they live up to their message of inclusivity, so the overt objective doesn’t irritate me.
Let’s have a look now at a smaller CPG brand. Sun and Swell Foods is using IG as their primary social. They offer organic health foods and snacks in compostable packaging. If you spend a few minutes on their account you’ll see a lot of valuable information about environmentalism, plastic waste and educational messages tailored to the core values and tone of their audience. They are positioning their brand as an expert in the conversation of sustainability. The product they sell fits seamlessly into their ethos. They clearly understand that their followers want to learn from them and align with them first and purchase from them second. See the screenshot below for a few posts from their account.
I’ll leave you with this last example, a personal favorite of mine. Who Gives A Crap is a sustainable toilet paper brand that uses their IG to make adorable jokes about butts and toilets. They use humor to bring up important thinking about sustainability and they use pop culture to remain incredibly engaging to a wide audience. Having a good sense of humor, where appropriate, can build a connection with an audience that increases engagement sometimes to the point of virality. Check out this article on Sprout Social where they break down the benefits of using humor when building your brand voice.
Who Gives A Crap integrates this idea perfectly, somehow making a toilet paper brand seem cool. Like Sun and Swell above, they know that their brand voice is about education and advocacy. The only shots of the product are generally when they are talking about the fun art work on the packaging. They don’t take themselves too seriously but they are certainly a brand I want to follow for their creativity and success in creating a vibrant online community. When I feel aligned with and well informed by the company - then I really want to buy from them.
Generally it might seem counterintuitive to talk about your product or service less but as you can see from the success of the brands above (and so many others I haven’t mentioned) it is more important to have an emotional connection, an alignment of values and appearance of “cool” than it is to tell your customer the 101 reasons they should wear the mascara you’re selling. Today’s consumer wants to know where that mascara was produced, whether the container will biodegrade and if the formula inside is safe for people and planet. They need the education and the alignment before they purchase, but then they will purchase over and over again.
For more details about the Harris Poll for Sprout Social check out the full article here: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/importance-of-social-media-marketing-in-business/