Think about it! From direct mail to email and now social media, direct marketing has come a long way and is accelerating at an even faster pace. The pace has also led to changes in the algorithms and business models of social networks themselves, so that brands need to be adaptable and agile to connect with their target audiences in more meaningful ways than ever before.
Just how direct is today’s marketing? Recent research of 20 major brands by SaaS platform company Khoros revealed that one-to-one communication is currently employed by 95% of them. This means that only one of the 20 doesn’t practice this. Why should this matter?
The speed and channels available on social media today are both a blessing and a curse. Brands that are quick to respond to consumer concerns and interests can better attract and keep customers. Another recent survey, this by Forrester, revealed that 83% of the consumers polled said they were more loyal to brands that answer and resolve their issues and complaints. Brands that can’t or won’t pivot so quickly may see an exodus of customers.
This means that the latter is drafting plans and processes to enable a brand to respond and react more quickly. Those plans should also include strategies to encourage, catch, and amplify positive word of mouth customer feedback and comments, which Forrester reports drives $2 trillion in sales.
The primary goal of social media marketers was and still is building brand awareness. To achieve this, marketers must first identify the best networks that the brand might use to reach its target audience(s). Focusing on the channels most used by this audience can be achieved by identifying their usage patterns.
Marketers should draft and get all-around company buy-in on a direct marketing plan that includes the voice that the brand will use on all its platforms and target audiences. This includes responses to customer comments, direct messages, and queries. The plan should consider and employ variances in the tone and content it uses on different platforms, recognizing that LinkedIn is more formal while Facebook is more casual. Conversely, Instagram demands more polish while Snapchat would lean to being intimate yet informal.
Recognizing and identifying the target audience’s journeys and personas and appropriating funds to support them are next. Invest in a social marketing tool that offers unlimited searches for relevant keywords and use them in the brand’s tags and descriptors.
With input from the marketing and sales teams, own and then post to hashtags to maximize the brand’s reach and recall. Think like Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke, Charmin’s #tweetfromtheseat, Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor, ALS Association’s #IceBucketChallenge, and Red Bull’s #PutACanOnIt.
Relevant user-generated and third-party content should also be shared. Community influencers might be highlighted as well and encouraged to be a part of the campaign.
In addition to the large, popular platforms being employed, be sure to also use messaging apps in the brand’s integrated campaign. Some include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat.