Social media plays an important role in how consumers discover, research, and share information about brands and products. In fact 60 percent of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites. Active social media users are more likely to read product reviews online, and 3 out of 5 create their own reviews of products and services. Women are more likely than men to tell others about products that they like (81% of females vs. 72% of males). Overall, consumer-generated reviews and product ratings are the most preferred sources of product information among social media users.
Research shows that social media is increasingly a platform consumers use to express their loyalty to their favourite brands and products, and many seek to reap benefits from brands for helping promote their products. Among those who share their brand experiences through social media, at least 41 percent say they do so to receive discounts. When researching products, social media users are likely to trust the recommendations of their friends and family.
Here’s everything you need to know about using social media to build your brand:
- Choose networks that support your brand image: Social capital belongs to individuals, and is loaned to brands. You can use social networking to develop relationships online that you’d be unlikely to have otherwise.
- Facebook is a great platform for promoting virtually any brand, due to its very heterogeneous user base.
- Instagram is a great option for brands that rely heavily on images, such as clothing companies and retailers. .
- While Google+ hasn’t taken off as well as many people predicted, it can be a great platform to reach men in the technology industry, as two-thirds of the network’s users are men, most of whom work in engineering or other technical professions.
- Pinterest is an excellent social network to reach women, especially for brands selling jewellery or clothing.
- Finally, if you operate a business-to-business company, LinkedIn is a stronger choice for promoting business-related content and connecting with other corporate influencers.
- Use social campaigns to promote content:
- A growing number of brands use strategies such as contests and other social media campaigns to successfully gain visibility and generate leads.
- To take advantage of this effect, provide your audience with valuable incentives that encourage user participation and make sure that your campaigns offers value to all participants.
- Leverage influencers: A much faster approach is to leverage the audiences existing influencers in your industry have already built. There are a few different ways you can do this:
- Mention their names or cite their websites in your content pieces. Influencers with Google Alerts or other notifications set up on their names will see your content after it’s published.
- Tag any influencers you’ve referenced when sharing content to your social media profiles.
- Email influencers after you’ve published your content to let them know they’ve been referenced in your work.
- Provide valuable and shareable content: It should go without saying, but you’ll create a much stronger brand reputation if you focus on creating useful content that viewers will want to share, rather than cranking out content to meet arbitrary publishing calendars or that covers subjects only you’d want to read. Keep the following principles in mind as you craft content for social sharing:
- Every single piece of content you share should support your brand image. Remember, humour can be difficult to pull off. If you can use memes effectively, they can be powerful brand-building tools.
- Figure out which content is most likely to gain visibility on your social networks. Images may resonate better with your audience than blog posts, but you won’t know that if you don’t look at your data.
- Don’t be afraid to use visual content. Articles with images receive 94 percent more views!