Working remotely, juggling priorities, finding new ways to shop from home, and discovering new activities to stay busy– people are quickly adapting to the many life changes brought about by the pandemic. With people across the country continuing to shelter-in-place and social distance, it comes as no surprise that a consumer’s media consumption and social media engagement habits have drastically increased. And retailers have quickly adjusted to the CPG industry’s swift evolution by shifting their product discovery and sourcing efforts to digital technologies amidst nationwide safety precautions. As we look forward to a changing industry, it is more important than ever for suppliers to place their focus on improving their social media presence and learning how to navigate the social landscape to connect with consumers and retail buyers.
From Linkedin to Instagram to TikTok, various social media platforms are increasing in business popularity as brands learn to leverage creative content to appeal to an engrossed consumer market. Let’s take a look at how you can leverage social media while working from home by implementing a few innovative techniques to help you grow your presence and follower base.
Improving Your Presence
As consumer behavior shifts to online shopping, social media channels have become the primary landscape for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands to market their products compared to traditional in-store marketing. There are millions of brands on social media, with the average business posting up to 1.7 times per day and seeing a 2.5% follower increase per month–so how can you make your brand stand out? Although you may have 6,000+ Instagram followers or 800 Twitter followers, this is not the best indicator of your social media presence. While success doesn’t happen overnight, the key is to build a flourishing presence with followers who will ultimately engage with your content, share it with their network of followers, and eventually become paying customers. With more time on your hands, it’s time to boost your activity on social media and begin creating a better connection with your followers, potential customers, and prospective retail buyers.
While potential consumers are spending more time at home, so are retail buyers. With canceled trade shows and restricted travel, retail buyers have no choice but to discover products online from their homes, whether that’s through online product discovery platforms or social media. By posting more frequently and developing a stronger digital marketing strategy, you can increase your customer base as well as boost your visibility with these retail buyers who are also spending more time on these platforms. Tending to both consumer and retail buyer relationships is top priority during these times and by using the following social media best practices you can grow your brand exponentially.
Adopt a Creative Approach
A creative approach, often identified as one’s creative strategy, captures how a brand will effectively tell its story through a series of sophisticated content designed to drive new business, boost brand awareness, and attract new followers/consumers. Oftentimes, a brand’s creative strategy is reset to align with new product offerings, changes in consumer needs, or in this case, industry disruptions. Whether it’s online advertising, direct marketing, or social media, the primary goal of developing a unique and creative digital marketing strategy is to more effectively turn your brand’s story into a tangible product for consumers.
With more than 2.95 billion people and counting currently using social media, brands and marketing experts have to rely on more than attractive images and a few hashtags to make the most out of channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and as of late, TikTok. It is also important that brands focus on building an omnichannel presence to drive better relationships with their audience(s) as consumers begin using a wider range of channels to satisfy their entertainment needs. Some creative strategies to think about as you sit on your couch wondering how to improve your social media presence include:
- Understand (and listen to) your target audience and develop a strategy that resonates with their interests
- Use multimedia content (images, animated content, videos, etc.) to develop a unique brand identity
- Try out tutorial videos, how-to videos, or other original content that shows your followers a different side of your brand
- Adopt a color theme or story for your page
- Visual content tools are your best friend! Use graphic design websites like Canva, Easil, Crello, and Picmonkey to create fun and engaging social media posts
- Take time to preplan posts for the month by using a social media scheduler like Planoly, Hootsuite, or Buffer so you can focus on generating new content without frantically managing each platform daily
Integrate User-Generated Content
User generated content (UGC) is content created not by brands but by people, and in most cases your customers or influencers. In the age of social media, UGC is the future of brand marketing strategies. According to a Stackla survey, 79% of all consumers say their purchasing decisions are largely influenced by user generated content, of which they are 2.3 times more likely to perceive as authentic. UGC essentially acts as a customer endorsement showing off how your product or service is used in everyday life and how happy it makes those who use it. And brands are quickly picking up on this trend as they fill their Instagram feeds with photos taken by customers.
It can be challenging to create fresh, branded content, especially while we are all stuck at home. But UGC campaigns are a great way to build a broad portfolio of content so that you always have relevant material to share with your followers. An easy way to get started is by creating a custom hashtag to be used by customers, allowing you to find people’s images with ease and help those interested in your brand find more images of your product that may not be shown on your profile. If this is not your preferred route, try out influencer marketing, another trusted and proven marketing technique for many social media strategists which employs the use of celebrities and micro-celebrities to boost engagement.
Develop Community-Oriented Content
When growing your presence on social media it’s important to remember “community”. Since the start of 2020, we have seen a sharp increase in online communities of shared interest, purpose, and reason. In the next few months and years, we can expect a trend toward engagement with newsletters, online groups, and branded community initiatives. If you are looking for innovative ways to change your brand as you look for new marketing strategies to implement during shelter-in-place, start thinking about ways that you can create community-oriented content.
Community-oriented content is all about creating an environment conducive for interaction between your brand and the audience or followers engaging with it. It is important to start conversations, take part in community dialogue, and ask for engagement. Some ways that you can engage consumers within your community include:
- Niche newsletters
- Raw and authentic content about your brand (e.g. behind-the-scenes of making your product)
- Sharing customer testimonials or UGC
- Creating small groups (eg, Facebook groups)
- Leveraging Instagram Stories, Instagram Live Videos, and IGTV to help your followers get to know the face behind the brand
Sheltering in place has made many of us feel uneasy with change as we can’t continue business as usual, at least in a traditional sense, and we aren’t able to act or do things that we normally would. However, for many of us working in the comfort of our homes has in turn, forced us out of our comfort zones. Where there was once a struggle to interact with consumers, retailers, and suppliers exclusively via phones and computer screens, it is now our saving grace in connecting with these groups. As retailers and suppliers have embraced the changes with open arms, brands have learned to alter their marketing strategies to reach consumers in new ways they never have before, retailers have continued product discovery digitally by engaging in online trade shows and are discovering new products on social networks such as Instagram and Facebook.
While we continue to learn how to navigate a changing industry, brands will be able to better learn their consumer, improve their social presence, adopt creative digital marketing strategies, and discover resources that will keep customers engaged throughout the pandemic and improve their brand’s presence long term.