Putting The Horse Back Before The Cart

Brands like Oreo, Innocent and ASOS have set the bar high when it comes to social media marketing. And it’s certainly the case that since likes, retweets and shares became a thing, people expect more from brands than they ever did from a TV ad. If a brand is going to take over space in my Facebook timeline they’d better either entertain me or enrich my life in some way. Otherwise, I’m just not interested.

To deliver engaging content, and protect engagement rates, social media managers need to understand three things: social media, who they’re speaking to and their brand.

Understanding Social Media

Social media is fundamentally different to traditional media.

We put up with advertising when we watch TV because we know it’s the trade off for getting to enjoy the content. But on social media there’s no such trade off. Facebook is already free, and always will be. It’s one of their brand promises.

And it’s not like people are checking Twitter ten times a day to see what their favourite brand has been up to. The single biggest mistake brands can make on social media is to over estimate how much people want to see their content – with the end result that above the line campaigns are forced into social strategies where they just don’t fit. Let’s be realistic, do your Facebook fans really care that your FMCG brand is sponsoring a new TV show? Thought not.

People use social media because it’s where their friends are. This is part of the reason why new networks find it so difficult to gain traction – until they reach the tipping point there’s not much to lure you in. Why join Ello when all your friends are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

So, people aren’t on social to see your content, and they don’t have to see it to get to what they really want to see. What this means is that your content had better be good and add value to the user in its own right if you want to make sure they even remain fans – because if they don’t care about what you’re saying, they can and will opt out of receiving it. Almost one in three brand followers on Facebook have ‘unliked’ a Page in the last month.

And one element of ensuring your content resonates with your audience is unsurprisingly…

Understanding Who You’re Talking To

You absolutely must get to grips with your audience. Because if you don’t, you’ll be in the dark with regards to where to even start generating content that will interest them.

ASOS are pros at this. They know their customers are in their own words, “twenty-something fashion lovers everywhere”. And they are constantly on the ball when it comes to what this demographic are talking about, and really get involved in the conversation. In the past week pretty much everyone I know in their twenties has become hooked on Netflix’s Making a Murderer, and ASOS responded with a digestible analysis of why everyone’s become obsessed with the show on their content hub. Because they understood their audience, the Facebook link to this got almost 27,000 clicks.

Netflix also know what their audience care about – they primarily want to know what new shows are being added to the service, and their #NowOnNetflixUK posts get hundreds of shares.

Get your audience wrong and you will be called out on it. Benefit Cosmetics saw fit to tweet the trending hashtag #MakeAMovieAFatty along with a list of film titles edited to be body shaming – think Fat and Furious, Legally Bulge, 50 Stone of Grey. Their young, female audience were not impressed, responding with the hashtag #BoycottBenefit.

Not only did the Benefit social media team forget who they were talking to on Twitter, they demonstrated ignorance of their brand. You can’t claim to be a body positive company, and have the strapline “laughter is the best cosmetic”, and then fat-shame your followers.

Understanding Your Brand

Social media is the purest execution of brand. Think of it like this, if your brand was a person, who would they be? That’s exactly who they should be on social.

Because of this, attempting to plan a social media strategy without first planning a brand is a very bad idea.

A few things to remember first.

  1. A brand is not a logo. And your brand on social is not as simple as putting a logo on some content.
  2. A brand is not an identity. And your brand on social is not just a look and feel.
  3. A brand is not a product. And your brand’s content on social needs to be about more than just your product.

So what is a brand?

A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service.

Knowing what your brand is all about has a number of benefits when it comes to planning your strategy.

Build an effective brand that people feel close to and they’re 10,000 times more likely to engage with your social media content.

A person with no personality is uninspiring. So is a brand. If you want to inspire your followers, you need to know exactly who you are.

Giving your brand a view on the world also allows you to take a stance on social, meaning you can market reactively but not blindly. There’s no value in jumping on every Twitter trend and using every popular hashtag with your eyes closed – anyone can do that and you’ll annoy more than you engage. But when something happens which is relevant to your brand’s view on the world, grab the opportunity with both hands, even if the event isn’t directly relevant to your product.

Doing It Right

There is an incredible amount of value in social media – when it’s done right. Projections show Facebook will be the biggest content distributor by 2020 and the opportunity to engage directly with the consumer makes social the ideal platform in many ways for building brand affinity.

ABI Holiday Homes

We understand the above – with the result that our social media strategies are on brand, relevant and engaging.

For ABI Holiday Homes, we took the insight that a holiday home purchase is fundamentally about buying into a lifestyle, and the fact that ABI consider the smallest details to help their buyers make the most of that lifestyle, and created a social presence for the brand that encapsulates this.

So, while product led posts were always going to form a part of the social strategy, we are able to complement this hard working content with a range of lifestyle centric images and calls to action that really resonated with the ABI consumer.

Knowing there’s an element of nostalgia tied up in the Great British holiday, we dug out ABI brochures from the 70s and 80s to use as #ThrowbackThursday content – promoting the brand’s heritage while appealing to fans’ emotions.

Understanding that getting to the holiday park on a Friday evening is for many of our fans the highlight of the week, we post calls to action asking who is ready for a holiday park weekend on a Friday afternoon.

Knowing that ABI owners are incredibly proud of their holiday homes, we share the fan photos we receive on ABI’s own social pages.

And, realising that the process of buying a holiday home can be bewildering for first time owners, we created a range of content designed to guide fans through the process.

The results of this strategy speak for themselves – the brand now has a social audience topping 20,000 fans and generated over 1.25 million impressions on social media in the past year – stats that are by far the best in the sector.

And, following on from launch of ABI Holiday Homes’ social media, the Grapple launch of and our creation of a new brochure format for the brand, ABI recorded their best ever sales season.

Planning underpins everything we do here at Ponderosa, allowing us to create valuable social strategies that work. Drop us a line to find out what we can do for your brand.

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