The new social media phase is in full swing. Followers are looking for more than just ‘how popular you are’. The new social media trend is all about ‘how much you care’.
Social Media Trends In 2016
As a digital marketing agency who offers various social media services, we have been explaining for a while to our clients that vanity metrics such as follower numbers and amount of updates you produce just doesn’t cut it. And that’s never been truer than it is today, as a result of new social media algorithms and the changing mindset of customers.
In this social era, followers are less interested in the 2.5million followers vs. 23 following ratio that you have. They want to see if you actually care about the people who are promoting you online as well as buying your products or services.
Followers are now expecting something back from businesses and brands who are on social media. If a customer takes the time to tag your product in their latest Instagram photo using your unique hashtag, they would like some recognition. If they have tweeted you about a product or a service, they would like a retweet or a ‘like’ at least. If they have tagged you into a Facebook update, they expect at least a like, if not a comment and a share at a later date. This is the best way to grow a base of loyal social media advocates and get the best user-generated content (UGC) for your brand.
Now, for the bigger brands; it is likely they’ll have a social media community manager (or 3), hired purely to capture and engage with this user-generated content. These businesses set the expectations, usually by their previous behaviour: followers don’t expect to be engaged with every time but know that there is a chance they may be in the future, which encourages them to keep posting. These are usually very popular brands who have strict brand guidelines and would not be able to keep up with the amount of UGC that they receive or luxury brands wanting to maintain a certain ‘distance’ with their clients, to accentuate company prestige. Even successful smaller organisations, who are just too busy running their business to respond to everything, may require a social media manager. However, it is safe to say there are many of us out there who are not at this level and can probably manage to respond in some way, to every comment, mention and tag that is sent your way. Even if it isn’t immediately!
Here are some ways to manage your social media community without spending all day glued to your social networks:
- Firstly, set expectations. Where characters allow, make people aware of what they can expect. For example: we will respond to messages within 24 hours; we will post a selection of our favourite images on…[select a day]; we love seeing our products in situ, please #yourhashtag and we will do our best to share some of the photos, etc.
- Instagram: Create a Flipagram with some of the best UGC at the same time every week. Make it a competition to see who can send the best images related to your product or service. Or set a weekly challenge similar to Instagram and the National Trust , to encourage people to enter weekly.
- Facebook: Consider ‘customer of the week’ or a slideshow with images that have been sent in, to set the standard and make it a competition between your audience. Maybe have a topic or theme to encourage those who were not successful one week to try again the next. Or have a weekly Q&A session which then lets your audience know when you will be online to respond to any questions.
- Twitter: When you log in, ‘like’ all brand mentions and respond or RT them if you can. Using a 3rd party app like Hootsuite is great for setting up keyword lists so that you can capture all variations of your name. As a result, you can respond to those who haven’t used your Twitter ID – highlighting that you are online and where to find you – they may then be inclined to follow you!
It is essential to encourage people who are not yet following your business to do so. But set your own expectations as this won’t happen over-night; you need to persevere and try different approaches. One day it will just click! Remember, with 81% of small businesses on social media, followers are looking for more than just how big your audience is when deciding who they want in their newsfeed.
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User Generated Content AKA UGC:
Content generated about your brand by your audience.
Social Media Advocates:
People that endorse your brand via social media. These can be employees, family and friends, customers or celebrities.