Earlier today, I posted a chart that showed which online venues people use to help them make purchase decisions. Social media was the second to last option in almost every case. But social media isn’t all bad. It can be an effective means of communicating with your customers, reaching new customers and building customer loyalty – if you can find the keys to making it work.
So, in order to remain fair and balanced, I’m now going to give social media equal time to defend itself via Mintel’s new list of the top five social media trends of this quarter. Let’s see which ones could work for you.
1. Brands with low usage and awareness garner large numbers in online mentions thanks to their cult followings
Do you know Wawa? I do because I was raised on the east coast where this convenience store chain rules over top competitor 7-11. More than half of the people Mintel surveyed aren’t familiar with the chain but still the chain has 1.1 million Facebook likes and 30,000 Twitter followers.
The takeaway: cult counts. You don’t have to be the biggest. You just have to be the best in your niche.
2. People are taking to bloggers and online mediums to educate themselves on DIY and beauty and personal care
Mintel’s study shows that blogs are huge for DIY and beauty. I’d add that YouTube rules, too. There are entire blogs devoted to nail polish and they rack up the hits like you wouldn’t believe. DIY home, DIY crafts, DIY garden – teach people how to do something and they’ll beat a path to your door.
The takeaway for marketers: blogging isn’t dead. Find the top names in your category and do whatever it takes to get your product in their hands. Even better, sponsor a weekly YouTube video that speaks to your audience. Beauty vlogger missglamorazzi has 2,390,263 subscribers and 162,010,729 YouTube views. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
3. Social media interactions strong before purchase, supporting need for information-driven content
When you think back-to-school, you probably think Staples and Walmart but Amazon.com and Macy’s had the highest levels of social media interaction among all brands at 67% and 65%, respectively. Mintel says customers turned to these trusted retailers to do pre-shopping research and price comparisons.
The takeaway: more information will save you. Post customer reviews. Clearly show all color and size options. Create content that shows customers how to get the most out of your products and suggest items that go together. Make it easy for your customer to click the buy button. I know that sounds like a no brainer but believe me, some of you are making it way to hard.
4. Brands empowering fans to express their creativity
User-generated content is all the rage. Lays asked fans to create their own unique flavor (Cajun Squirrel?) and Target let college students build their own virtual dorm room.
The takeaway: You may not have the money to build a virtual tool but anyone can put up a poll or ask customers to submit photos for a contest. When customers feel like they’re a part of the process, they’ll feel more invested in the company which means more likely to buy and spread the good word.
5. Employees, top executives moving front-and-center of brands’ social media strategy
These days, it’s common for top execs to show up on Twitter or Instagram. This makes big companies seem more down-to-earth and approachable which leads to consumer trust. Mintel says that companies are also loosening up when it comes to employee posting.
The takeaway: your own workers can be your best brand ambassadors if you give them the power to speak on the company’s behalf. Just be careful about allowing workers to mix business and pleasure on their personal channels. You don’t want photos from a wild weekend in Vegas to show up next to a link for your company’s new family friendly game.