Social media has revolutionised marketing. A recent report found nearly four-in-five people in Australia use social media, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat being the most popular platform, and almost a quarter (24%) follow brand accounts.
This provides myriad opportunities for companies to connect with consumers passively, through organic or paid posts, or more strategic activity such as collaborations and influencer marketing.
But social media is rapidly changing, and a small business owner or brand manager staying at the forefront of this evolving industry is a full-time job in itself. Algorithms change, and platforms are increasingly finding ways of making brands pay to connect with users. Instagram, for example, is currently trialling a program to remove ‘likes’ from Australians’ posts.
While the platform’s justification relates to user experience, some have questioned whether it is just another technique of making brands pay for exposure.
How this will impact marketers and agents of influencers remains to be seen.
Influencer marketing has exploded in recent years, creating an industry in itself with agencies across Australia purely managing this ‘talent’, and countless individuals profiting, either as a small extra ‘on the side’ or monetising their entire personal brand this way.
Many marketers and influencers are worried that without the clear quantifiable ‘likes’ on their posts, that they will find it hard to justify their worth, and indeed, their fee.
But I’d advise business owners not to panic, but instead, to take it as an opportunity to re-evaluate their marketing methods, and consider some tactics that will genuinely connect with their target audience, and create long-lasting customer relationships.
More than a cog
I’ve seen huge social media success with my accessories brand by going back to the essence of what my philosophy is, and what I believe all brands should remember is the most important element of the process: tailored, personalised service.
For brands that are all about sharing a character or story, this needs to be communicated in a more personal way.
It would have been an easy strategy for me to pay influencers to promote my products, but this goes against what I’m offering. If I’m talking about a brand that is all about the individual, I needed to make that individual feel special.
What does this mean, in reality?
It’s about implementing strategies that make customers feel valued and more than just a cog in a big wheel.
It’s the little things. Maybe crafting a hand-written note for first purchases to welcome new customers to the tribe, offering something special on their birthday, or a tiered rewards program to make it clear you appreciate their loyalty.
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When customers feel special and valued, this ‘feel good’ vibe spreads.
Initially, this will be a manual process, but it will pay off. And as you grow, there are technologies that allow you to automate processes, while still keeping the personal touch.
The ‘extra touch’ that people notice
The way I’ve applied this thinking to my business is to focus on my top 1,000 customers, and in doing so, have turned them into 1,000 fans.
I’ve channelled all my energy into nurturing these individuals, making them feel special and loved, and immersed in the OLIVIA&CO family, not just a one-off customer, to keep them coming back.
It’s the ‘extra touch’ that people notice, rewarding them with exclusive access, community-driven content, high-level delivery service and tracking reports. It’s going above and beyond the product, and making it a holistic brand experience.
It’s vital for SMEs to do this to compete with the bigger guys, who in turn are doing this.
You’ll notice when your birthday comes round a heap of discount codes arrive in your inbox — retailers know that once they lure you in, you’ll spend way more than they’ve invested in this discount, and the marketing involved in it.
Grab a mirror
This customer-centric philosophy is simple — and fail-safe.
Hold a mirror to your customer, put yourself in their shoes, consider what it is that they want, and what kind of activity would make you feel good from a brand.
Is it paying an influencer to tell her fans that she likes your products, or is it taking the time and resources to speak to you directly?
By focusing on a customer-centric mindset you’ll soon stand out from your competitors, and keep the fans returning.