How To Capitalize On Social’s Multi-Platform Benefits
It's easy to focus on Facebook — but don't miss the Instagram message! Columnist Jason Warnock explains how marketers can engage their audience across all social media channels to maximize sales.
The way consumers and brands use social media is changing. Consumers are engaging more than ever on social, and brands are relying on data to drive decision-making. What’s more, the platforms consumers interact on are constantly shifting in popularity.
Facebook was once a powerhouse, for example; however, growth is beginning to slow. Instagram, on the other hand, is on a quick incline to the top.
As consumers explore different social media channels, it’s imperative that marketers understand these shifting preferences. Where are consumers talking? Which social platform is the best at engaging millennials? What about baby boomers? Answering these questions is what drives a successful digital marketing strategy.
To answer these questions, Yesmail (my employer) compared its research of social media usage of 50 major retailer brands in five different categories to a Pew Research survey which identified social media usage trends among U.S. adults.
Multi-Platform Use Is On The Rise, And Different Channels Are Prospering
Many of the findings are unanimous across industries, like the fact that multi-platform usage is on the rise. Pew Research found that multi-platform usage among consumers jumped to 52 percent in 2014 from 42 percent in 2013. Similarly, according to the Yesmail study, over 91 percent of retail brands had a presence on two or more social channels.
These findings indicate that retailers are responding to the shift in consumer preferences and adapting to their needs, not only with multi-channel usage, but by interacting on the right channels.
According to the Pew Research survey, Facebook is still a popular social channel among consumers, with 71 percent being active in 2014. And consumers are still engaging with the platform. Seventy percent of Facebook users log on to the platform daily.
And brands have adapted to these preferences. In 2014, Facebook was the most adopted channel for brands, with 98 percent of retailers having a Facebook presence. However, despite average engagement and usage, follower rates are beginning to plateau. That makes sense, though. With a nearly 100 percent adoption rate, it’s only natural that growth slows down.
While marketers are successfully utilizing Facebook, they’re missing the Instagram message. Instagram use among consumers is quickly increasing. Pew Research found that Instagram saw the highest follower growth in 2014, jumping to 26 percent of internet users adopting the platform, up from 17 percent a year earlier, and Yesmail’s data agrees. Brands on Instagram experienced 93 percent growth month-over-month.
What’s more, in 2014 half of all internet users ages 18 to 29 were on Instagram, and almost 50 percent of these users logged on to the platform daily.
But what do these findings mean for marketers? Social media is clearly not a dying breed, and retailers that adopt best practices can engage their audience across all digital channels to build relationships and maximize sales. Here are four ways marketers can do so:
1. Integrate Social Media Into All Digital Marketing Efforts
Once retailers understand consumer preferences, they can begin to tie their social media efforts into other marketing strategies more effectively. Marketers can do so by incorporating social icons into email templates that encourage social shares and developing digital campaigns aimed at driving consumers to social pages.
Marketers can run cross-channel promotions, as well. For example, retail marketers can run an exclusive Twitter sweepstakes while promoting the contest on Facebook and Instagram. Marketers can increase followers by encouraging a like or follow to participate.
2. Meet Customers At The Right Touch Points
For retail brands, it’s not necessarily a best practice to be present across all social media platforms; it’s more important to know where consumers are talking. For example, Pew Research found that Facebook adoption among consumers ages 50 to 64 reached 63 percent in 2014. So if that demographic is a marketer’s target audience, a best practice is to reach that audience on Facebook.
When deciding which platforms to invest in, use a combination of demographic and psychographic data. After defining audiences, direct specific campaigns at these subscriber bases.
If the target audience is most active on Facebook, run a Facebook ad that appeals to those users. If an audience is the most active on Twitter, encourage users to share photos of their most recent purchase using a specific hashtag.
3. Foster Interactions That Drive Engagement
Fostering interactions on social media is imperative to follower growth, and it’s something marketers cannot ignore. To foster these interactions, empower customers and followers to share experiences with a brand, monitor social platforms for unusual spikes in activity, and create two-way conversations with consumers.
Marketers shouldn’t limit efforts to social media, however. It’s important to create relationships that translate across all digital platforms, whether it is on email, Twitter or Facebook.
To build these relationships, encourage consumers to share email promotions via social media to receive new deals and sales. Offering an incentive is a great way to create organic conversations among consumers while cultivating brand advocates. Better yet, by incorporating social attribution technology, you can identify your best brand advocates and tailor additional content to the top sharers.
4. Pay Attention To Current Events And Holidays
In order to gain new followers organically, marketers should tie their brand story to current events and holidays relevant to their product offering. Additionally, marketers should consider sending triggered emails linking to social accounts based on current events. If marketers can drive traffic to social sites and increase engagement, they can increase sales.
As consumer preferences change, understanding where and when an audience is interacting on social media becomes essential. More importantly, meeting these consumers at multiple touch points (email, display, social) is imperative to not only fostering relationships, but maximizing sales opportunities.