Building a Brand in a Crowded Market
Because we've made a career out of being 'experts' in marketing, the only thing we seem to talk about lately is how difficult it has become to stand out on social media. We probably lament it as much as we complain about Vancouver real estate (we won't get into that one).
Complaining aside, the truth is that it is much harder to build a brand and an audience on social media compared to even 5 years ago. It's a natural progression of popular social media platforms; as they grow, they become more crowded, and the social channels change their programs to promote increased ad spending.
We would love to be able to tell you that there are a few quick tricks that you can do to grow an authentic and engaged audience but the social media companies spend millions of dollars ensuring brands aren't able to do it. And we've tried looking anyways without any luck.
This doesn't mean that you need an enormous budget to launch and build your brand on social media (although that does make it a whole lot easier). When it comes to brands or influencers looking to grow, we give them a few pieces of advice:
Be Relentless with Customer Acknowledgement
Organic shout-outs from customers and influencers are valuable for any brand for a number of reasons. It's an authentic recommendation from a trusted voice through content that can be re-used on company pages. Brands are also given an invitation to engage further with someone who has used their products or services.
So it makes sense to be relentless with encouraging your followers to include your brand in their social posts. Commenting and liking on every post that tags or mentions your brand is a must, as well as giving thoughtful responses (a smiley emoji just isn't enough anymore). Take the time to comment on their photography, their write-up, and thank them for mentioning you.
Instagram stories are a great way to encourage higher engagement; some brands shout out the accounts that tagged their brands on their own Instagram stories. Your followers are generally looking to build their own presence and be acknowledged so anything you can do to accomplish that will mean more engagement and a larger reach.
We also like shouting out customers that engage with our brands in newsletters and other social channels. It serves as a good reminder for others to share their own experiences with your brand.
Consistency is Key
It used to be that brands needed to post regularly so that their accounts looked active and so there was always new content for followers to engage with. This is still true however, we find that the less we post on any social channel, the more the overall page declines in terms of reach and engagement.
We believe that Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook give preferential rankings to those that post more consistently. That means always having an Instagram Story uploaded and at least posting daily on any channel.
This can be a big commitment unless you're getting creative. Re-posting customer content on your stories is like hitting two birds with one stone by acknowledging your loyal customers and keeping your page ranking optimal by consistently posting new content.
Let Your Feelings Show
It's no longer enough to have trendy packaging, a quality product, and killer content. Consumers are now looking for brands and companies with soul. That means having a greater purpose. Think of Lululemon who says they aren't here to sell you clothes but to 'create transformational experiences for people to live happy, healthy, fun lives.'
Millenials and Generation Z consumers want their shopping dollars to support the causes they believe in and reflect the life they want to lead. We consistently see a greater response to content we post when it includes the personal story of the CEO or an impassioned vision of how a company wants to make the world a better place.
Companies are rarely apolitical anymore and that doesn't mean you have to pick a party but brands do better when they're working to rectify something in the world.