Marketing Through Social Media is No Longer a Luxury.
The relationship between brand and consumer has changed over the years. In most industries, a customer’s first in-depth interactions with a new brand or product are driven by research, education and brand engagement. Your customers and prospects are many times more likely to buy and promote your brand and its line of products if you are successful with these initial interactions. But get them wrong or completely neglect consumer education entirely and, the latest research shows, your competition may soon be generating as much as 5 times more return on investment (ROI) for each marketing dollar spent. We’re talking about a major shift in how companies are marketing their brand, resulting largely from a general public that is always online, using social media as a tool to discover and validate their purchasing decisions. Marketing through social media is no longer a luxury. Having a social media marketing strategy is absolutely necessary for brand survival in the long-run.
Traditional Marketing Tactics are Becoming Less Effective
Customers are increasingly ignoring traditional marketing in most industries and the top companies understand that they need a new way to reach customers in their target markets. The first vital step brands must take in today’s new brand landscape entails realizing that in most industries, they can’t control their brand image and brand awareness solely by “pushing” their message upon consumers. These classic marketing tactics include everything from sending out direct mail brochures and airing television commercials to placing cold calls and attempting door-to-door sales.
The rumors that traditional marketing is already dead are certainly premature. TV ads and direct mailings are still highly effective for some industries in certain markets and will more than likely exist in some form or fashion for many years to come. However, consumers have grown a knee-jerk reaction to quickly reject and criticize any blatant attempts from brands to force marketing messages down their throat. Consumers today want to choose which brands are deserving of their attention. Furthermore, consumers today have earned the power to choose whether or not they see or hear messaging from your brand. The marketing paradigm has shifted. Brands which fail to shift along with the times will ultimately struggle to maintain existing customers, let alone attract new ones.
The New Cycle: Marketing Through Social Media
Industry research proves that consumer education can generate much higher ROI than traditional marketing tactics alone. Companies who successfully navigate the new brand landscape are significantly increasing sales, brand loyalty, and marketing ROI. Firstly, online education prior to consumers making a purchase is only becoming more important, and it often goes well beyond a search for product reviews. Second, consumers aren’t immediately finding the products and services they need, so they consult more and more online sources including videos, blogs, informational graphics, and most importantly, conversations occurring on social media. The smart brands have transformed themselves into being a resource to be discovered rather than the megaphone to be ignored and discarded. These leading brands are leaning on the expertise of a social media agency and their social media management services or have received social media training to become more effective with using social media for business.
These unmet educational needs are creating profound opportunities to increase brand value. Simply put, those companies who are first to create strategic branded content that is authentic and aligned with customer research are gaining significant competitive advantage. On the other hand, companies who don’t make the necessary adjustments to understand how today’s consumers digest marketing, with the right educational and engagement strategies, are finding that potential customers are learning from their competitors. The key to reaching your target consumers is having them find you. Social media has created a genius brand discovery search engine and the largest walkie-talkie in the world! When brands publish valuable content on their social media channels whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest, consumers seeking such value will discover them. As with any relationship, a consistent stream of valuable brand storytelling leads to trust, which will usually leads to acquisition, loyalty and evangelism for your brand.
This is the basic principle of any credible content marketing strategy. Share and communicate with your customers and prospective customers without the sales pitch, and in return, you will be rewarded with their business (and hopefully the business of their friends as well). Many brands have been hitting home runs for years now with great content marketing strategies. Look around at what your competition is presently doing. We guarantee that the market share leaders have already adopted a content strategy to address the new marketing cycle.
By NOT embracing this new marketing cycle of providing online branded content for your prospective and current customers to discover during their online research process, your sales team will more than likely struggle with converting new sales and reach the revenue goals for your company. The research is clear: Companies that fail to adapt to these new market norms are waking up to a reality that their competitors own key assets that inform purchasing behaviors and brand loyalty. However, companies that are moving quickly and intelligently to ensure clear ownership of prime educational tools in their respective markets are creating strong competitive advantages and generating much higher returns on marketing dollars spent.
At ImagiBrand, our ultimate goal is to help you create a compelling and engaging story that will extend the reach of your brand and help your marketing and sales team better communicate the value of your line of products and services and ultimately shorten the present sales cycle. We have built a unique agency directly tailored to help brands such as yours to succeed with this new marketing cycle. We have strategically combined social media marketing expertise with talented creative artists and brand storytellers. Our social media team is all about executing a strategy based on researching both your consumers and your competitors. We are experts at marketing through social media by helping create, execute and promote fun and exciting ideas for branded photography, branded videos and branded graphics to strategically position and focus your social media branding. The following is our 5-stage process:
Step 1: Research
We strongly believe in the power of conducting market research within your industry and fully investigating the marketing tactics of your competitors online and offline. This is accomplished by our extensive Brand Audit and Social Media Audit process.
Conducting a Brand Audit is highly recommended for any company trying to enter into a new market or an established brand introducing a new product line. In order to best position your brand in the market and discover new opportunities and uncover relevant threats, we perform an extensive analysis of the following:
• Overall industry and key trends
• Past and present marketing
• Marketing mix (product lines, price comparisons, promotional tactics, distribution)
• The entire competitive landscape
• Primary and secondary target markets
• Brand identity / visual identity
• Key consumer insights
Social Media Discovery
Performing a Social Media Audit is paramount for a brand to find success using social media to grow their brand. We analyze you and your competitors on the following:
• Activity on every social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.)
• The most influential people relevant to your industry
• The most successful Social Media Campaigns conducted in your industry
• Website referral traffic / SEO and keyword analysis
• All successful and unsuccessful content marketing created in your industry (blogs, videos, photos, graphics, etc.)
Step 2: Strategy
With a solid foundation built from the research produced in the brand discovery and social media discovery stage, we are able to devise a strategic direction for your brand on social media. Every great social media strategy is based on an understanding of the best social media channels from which to build your brand, which specific groups of people to target online and the best content for daily engagement.
Social Media Relationship Building
Social media is a long-term strategy based on establishing credibility in your industry and developing key relationships that help propel your brand above the competition. We work closely with your brand to continually identify new influencers in your market, make your brand worthy of consumer loyalty by listening to and engaging directly with your customers and prospects, and most importantly, learn how to market directly to the followers of your competitors on multiple social media channels.
Successful brands now understand that it is imperative to produce branded content that ultimately provides value to their customers whether it’s engagement, entertainment, education, or inspiration, if they want to garner attention from the right targeted customers on the right social media channels. What kind of content does a brand need to produce? Brands need video production, photography and graphics that strategically communicate their brand message and help tell their brand story to the specific consumers that actually find value in what they are sharing. That is the beauty and essence content marketing. We will work closely with your marketing and sales team to plot out a content roadmap for all the branded creative that will need to be produced over the course of the next year, whether it be the blog posts that need to get written to the product informational videos, photography and graphics that need to be created.
Step 3: Production
Based on the content roadmap, the ImagiBrand team goes to work on creating your wide array of branded content using our expertise in graphic design, video production and high-quality product photography. Over time, we would build up enough content for your brand in various categories, such as blogs and graphics to be released and videos and photos to be shared, which could then be released on your website and social media channels upon a predetermined release schedule that we will work out with you and your team.
Step 4: Promotion
The journey for your brand is just beginning after your branded content is produced. This is where our social media relationship building strategy will pay dividends. Our goal would be to make your brand a well-oiled machine, helping your brand produce valuable and engaging content that your online influencers and communities will appreciate and share with their own following. Understanding the how, when and where you release this content online greatly impacts how successfully your content gets shared online. We have years and years of experience with the strategy and tactics behind successful content promotion on social media.
Step 5: Reporting
The final stage of our process is a comprehensive measuring of all social media marketing efforts. The beauty of marketing your brand on social media is that it produces measurable data that we can use to help drive your brand strategically towards meeting its business objectives. Monitoring your social media analytics can make the difference between the success or failure of your social media presence. We analyze and report on all social media channels relevant to your industry and your brand. Aside from reporting on just your social media efforts, we also stalk your direct competitors to help you understand the social strategy and tactics of your competition, the key demographics of their following and the threats and opportunities facing your brand.