Self Expression Magazine

How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers

By Lisa @Lisapatb

Social Media Is Changing

Social media is changing and has now become the biggest marketing budgetary item for big brands today.

It's estimated that social network ad spending will reach just under $24 billion worldwide this year, and that number is expected to soar to more than $35 billion next year. Also, 70 percent of digital marketers will spend more on social media ads in the future. It's big business, indeed.

How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers
Marketing has been immensely transformed in just the last few years alone. Years ago, brands just cared about print advertising, a display ad on some major digital newspaper and maybe a Twitter account. Today, however, brands are spending the big bucks on social media, mobile advertising and data analytics. It's as simple as this: "social media have changed how big brands do business, interact with customers, market their products and build a strong reputation."

As big brands become active participants in social media, a new industry has been spawned: social commerce. This is when the concepts of ecommerce and social media integrate to form social commerce. It's a $15 billion industry, and with just a market share of five percent, many brands are hopping on the bandwagon and hoping to accelerate the growth of the industry.

Why not? With ecommerce accounting for close to half-a-trillion-dollars by 2018, there are plenty of opportunities to gain a percentage of that pie by driving sales and acquiring leads.

Big brands are very effective on social media. Just how can small businesses learn from the social media rockstars? First, you have to identify just which of the major brands are fully using social media and providing marketing students with case studies. According to AdWeek, these are the top 10 brands (in no particular order) that are dominating the social media landscape:

Here is what the website concludes in its list of the top brands on social media:

"Just because these are household brands with massive follower bases doesn't mean other brands can't be just like them. Look to these fantastic social media companies for inspiration, and get out there and start creating your own unique voice online."

So, just how are these brands doing an amazing job on social media? That's the second part. Let's find out how with these five methods:

  1. Customer Service & Reputation Management
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Social Commerce
  4. Visual Content
  5. User-Generated Content

Customer Service & Reputation Management

Remember when you had a discrepancy with a bill or you had trouble with a service, you had to call a 1-800 number and wait an hour or two to speak with someone? Well, you still may have to do that with a cable or telephone service, but for the most part you can simply tweet a brand on Twitter or make a comment on the firm's Facebook page.

Customer service has greatly changed, and improved, all thanks to social media. If people are complaining about a power outage or shoddy food at one of the nation's big chains then you will likely receive a response from the brand, and sometimes within moments of sending out the tweet, Facebook post or Instagram.

Social media has helped improve a brand's reputation. When something goes wrong with a product or a service, the brand will work day and night to rectify the situation and, of course, broadcast its hard work and dedication all over Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, brands like to showcase their philanthropic efforts on social media. All of this is part of the brand's reputation management strategy. All companies should employ a similar strategy. Everything is social media so if you ever want to perform a makeover of your brand then social media is the way to go.

Content Marketing

Content marketing and social media go hand in hand. What's the use of content marketing if you're not going to share it with the rest of the world? From articles to images, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ are all platforms to take advantage of for your content.

Here are a few of the best social media tips for your content marketing campaign:

  • Share images on Twitter to accompany your article, blog post or webinar.
  • Reframe your content in multiple ways to suit your audience.
  • Be transparent about your company; share details about your brand online.
  • Establish Google authorship since you can better ranked on search results pages.
  • Remember to share your content multiple times to hit the right time zones, garner more traffic, increase circulation and perhaps reach new followers.

Big brands are promoting their infographics, videos and free ebooks all over social media. These are just some of the ways they're achieving the aim of awareness, reputation and more sales.

GoPro, the action camera maker, pretty much mastered this art form. If you peruse the company's YouTube and Instagram accounts, you will notice the hundreds of user-submitted videos, which include those consumers jumping out of airplanes, cycling in forests and surfing the waves.

Social Commerce

All of the primary players in the social media realm enable you to shop directly on the website. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all of buyable buttons for you to purchase some of your favorite brands without having to click through a series of links and spend a lot of time waiting.

Social commerce is the next big thing in the world of ecommerce Click To Tweet Social commerce is the next big thing in the world of ecommerce. There are four distinct reasons as to why consumers and brands are both becoming excited over this new online trend:

  • Social shopping replicates the offline shopping experience.
  • Your online shopping experience is curated by the brand.
  • Peer recommendations helps boosts online word-of-mouth.
  • Commerce becomes participatory based on customer input.

How are the big brands starting to incorporate social commerce into their strategies? With these tips and tricks:

  • Installing call-to-action buttons on their websites and social network.
  • Building social media communities with dedicated customers.
  • Tracking, analyzing and adapting campaigns based on the statistics.
  • Putting forward a sincere attitude.
  • Taking advantage of ads, particularly those that includes user-generated content (see below).

This is what Social Media Explorer writes on the mix of social media and ecommerce:

"With technology and communication channels evolving quicker than ever before, it's hard to predict with certainty what the next 12 months might have on offer. However, past data and current trends strongly suggest that 2016 will be a major year for eCommerce, with social media playing a key role in it. The data backed trends I've in this post are likely to dominate the coming year. If you stay on top of them, you can have a year of unprecedented success with social commerce."

Visual Content

It's been said time and time again that we're a visual species. Click To Tweet It's been said time and time again that we're a visual species. Our attention spans are shorter, we process images faster than text and visuals can impact our buying decisions more than words.

Superb images can have a great impact on users' engagement on social media. And the proof is in the pudding: visual content generates 94 percent more total views, and is 49 percent more likely to be shared on various social media channels. When it comes to user-generated images, researches show that organic instagram image increase conversation by 25% more than a professional image, so make sure to incorporate fan's images into your campaign.

According to HubSpot, the most effective uses of visual content on social media consist of: adding up to four images in a single tweet, starting photo albums, record slow-motion videos, embed SlideShare presentations and insert native Facebook videos. All of these are things that the big boys are doing in the marketplace.

User-Generated Content

How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers
The marketing industry's best kept secret is user-generated content, also known as UGC. This is when your customers post positive online reviews, share photos of themselves using your product, tweet out great comments about your brand and participating in the company's contests with your own images, videos and photo captions.

In addition to UGC essentially being free marketing, UGC ads lead to ad campaigns with better results, an increase in sales, heightened consumer engagement and cost-savings for your marketing budget. UGC comes with a wide variety of benefits, especially when it's integrated with social media.

Many will concede to the fact that it's attractive to just post well-crafted messages on social media, but then it will portray your brand as sterile, behind on the times and indifferent to your audience. This is where UGC enters the picture because it suggests you value your customers, you're hip and open to new ideas.

Big brands are incorporating UGC with social media by employing these methods:

  • Encouraging customers to post reviews on their products online.
  • Sharing photos of users with the products using a specific hashtag.
  • Incorporating UGC into ad campaigns for holiday themes and promotions.
  • Newsletters that feature certain users who shared the most photos, garnered the most subscribers or has an interesting story about their lives and how the product improved their quality of life.

There's an endless number of ways UGC can be added to social media. But the big brands - we alluded to GoPro earlier - understand the value of their users uploading content related to their products. When customers do this then it immediately transitions them into acting as brand advocates. Remember, people are a lot more likely to trust a brand if their peers are recommending it as opposed to a major star, a witty slogan or a sleek advertising program.

Final Thoughts on How Social Media Is Changing

Some may believe that it's too late to start a successful campaign on social media. The theory is that it's too crowded to get noticed, no matter how much noise you attempt to make. But caving into this idea suggests that you have very little faith in your audience.

Big brands love social media because never before in history have companies been able to interact, monitor, track and analyze their target audience on such a customized and personal level. Content marketing campaigns, crowdsourced endeavors and social commerce initiatives are all being facilitated by the brilliant minds at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Everything from Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign to McDonald's "Ask a Question" campaign, big brands understand just how much value social media is providing everyone.

As the technology continues to make advances all over the globe, more and more firms will utilize social media as not just a marketing tool but an important element to its ecosystem and business model. For the big brands today: long live social media!

How are you using social media today? Is it helping with your small business? I'd love to know in the comments below!
How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers
How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers

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