Georgia Seaward from the Ashgrove Marketing team looks at how changes in social media can be harnessed to help you get your message across.
At the age of 23, it’s safe to say that for almost 50% of my life, I’ve been using some form of social media or online communication.
For me, it started with texting a couple of mates on my Nokia brick phone. This turned into group chats on MSN with my school peers, and then on to setting up our own Facebook accounts. I can distinctly remember everyone chatting about their new account and how many ‘friends’ they had already accumulated as if it was a competition.
That was 10 years ago and the hype around social media hasn’t died. Neither is it going to any time soon.
We now live in a world of ‘influencers’ with a captive audience watching their every move, even down to the most mundane ‘My Morning Routine’ YouTube videos (that, bizarrely, sometimes include clips of individuals fake-waking up in the morning).
Obviously, sharing a picture of your avocado on toast for breakfast isn’t the only use for social media. In a world where knowledge is accessible at the touch of our fingertips, failing to understand the importance of digital marketing from a business perspective is no longer acceptable, and age is no longer an excuse.
Yet, although it is now a recognised form of marketing, I still feel like social media is underappreciated. To show just how powerful it can be, let’s take the example of our favourite naturalist presenter, Sir David Attenborough.
On 24th September 2020, Sir David joined Instagram at 94 years old. Why? Because he understood that to create change in the modern world, he has to reach out through new communication avenues. Already well-known and respected within his subject matter, he wanted to extend his reach beyond those who have always watched his TV programmes and create conversations to inspire that change.
Sir David broke the World Record for the quickest time in which an Instagram account collected one million followers, achieving it in just 4 hours 44 minutes. In his videos, he spoke directly to us in his latest plea for the world to change its ways for the good of the natural environment, before it’s too late. With his content, he and his team created an instant community of like-minded individuals, who shared it worldwide within minutes. It was a remarkable feat.
Although Sir David already had a strong fan band of admirers outside of social media, which contributed to his rapid accumulation of followers, the same principles can be applied to business social media strategies:
- Create a community.
- Share relevant and useful content, preferably engaging people with different types of content as you go.
- Use it as an opportunity to connect with your audience directly.
This can be applied universally, to any business in any industry. Say you are setting up a new furniture store, then don’t just post stock pictures of the products, share lifestyle images and videos so your audience can visualise the items in their home and how they might be used. Think about what other ways you can present information – maybe a testimonial or a review, maybe a comment on a new innovation. You are not restricted to posting photos of 101 chairs!
Social media makes it incredibly easy to provide your audience with the information you want them to see, and with the information they think they need to see – although you do need to pay attention to delivering these through the right channel for your intended audience.
Media consumption habits change over time and this has been particularly impacted by the pandemic. A study carried out by the GlobalWebIndex in 2020 reveals that different generations changed their consumption in different ways. For example, the study found that my fellow Gen Z’ers media consumption is now primarily through short online videos such as Tik Tok.
The phenomenal success of the quickfire and quirky Tik Tok has, in turn, has forced other social media platforms to review their content with Instagram, for example, introducing their ‘Reels’ feature to remain competitive.
Of course, not everyone’s target audience looks for the same type of content, and I doubt you’ll find accountants filming Tik Tok dances to attract new clients. It’s about using the appropriate platforms and content for your brand and making it work for you – but remaining mindful that new contenders can come on the scene quite quickly.
Social media, and digital marketing as a whole, should be treated as ongoing development. Content trends change, and so do the personal tastes of your audience. This is where direct communication with your audience will come in handy, as you can grow and develop with your audience. And of course any insights from your customers or potential customers will be useful for other aspects of your business, so it’s a win-win situation.
In summary, social media is no longer a nice to have – it should form part of your overall digital marketing strategy and be given appropriate investment in time and money.
We all hope there won’t be another pandemic any time soon, and when we’re no longer ‘WFH’ there might not be quite so much time to scroll through our social media feeds. But the genie is definitely out of the bottle – social media is not going away as a marketing medium, you just have to embrace it!