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How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers

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.

social media is changingMarketing 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:

  • Denny’s
  • Oreo
  • Netflix
  • Pampers
  • Charmin
  • GrubHub
  • Dove
  • GoPro
  • Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Always

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 TweetSocial 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 TweetIt’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

user generated contentThe 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! 

Erik is a professional blogger and freelance writer. He loves to skydive and work on his NoPassiveIncome blog (but not at the same time).

27 comments On How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With Customers

  • Social media marketing is also great for the little guys not only the big brands. They are great spots to network and get the word out about your business because if you have 38 followers and a few of those share your content it can lead to another 2k+ eyes on your post. The viewership grows exponentially without any cost at all. It’s especially useful if you are sharing content that followers can use and find interesting.

  • HI Erik
    Reading your article I can’t but help remembering a cafe near where I live in Brisbane that just did not want a bar with annoy form of Social Media about a year ago. They wanted to fly under the radar, build their brand up and then be able to take on any one who had any comment about their food. They were paranoid that social media would destroy them, not grow them.

    Sad to say they have cease to run the business now. In your opinion and knowledge what would you say they should have done otherwise? If some is about to start a business or take over an existing business what social media branding tips could you share? Love to hear what you have on this topic for small business getting off the ground in a local market.

  • Erik – great post man. I just looked through Oreo’s and a few of the companies you mentioned were crushing social and got some good ideas. Thank you!

  • Hi Erik,

    Thank you for publishing this wonderful post. I’ve never been much good with promoting on social media, but every once in awhile some posts will do really well in terms of traffic. However, with ideas from this post, I should start to become more successful with social media.

    On the other hand, social media is an excellent source for passing your message around to a continued and new audience. It all comes down to finding your voice and sticking to it. Thank you so much for this great post, Erik. 😀
    Artice Upchurch recently posted…How PayPal Transformed E-CommerceMy Profile

  • Most of the people are still unaware and still require impact full education about the potential of plans developed for effective marketing on social media platforms. But yet Social Media Marketing strategy can prove to be a big boon and as an extremely powerful marketing utility on strategic front.

  • I love how social media is changing customer service. This is amazing for big brands who actually can afford to add it as a budget item. It’s tough however for a small company to compete sometimes (I know there are a lot of stories of small companies killing it on social media) when their customers expect them to be everywhere but they simply don’t have the manpower to cover all of the social media channels and still get their projects done on time.

    • Kurt –
      That is true that these major multi-billion dollar organizations can afford to add Social Media into their budget but for the smaller companies to compete what I would suggest is that they focus primarily on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These right now are the 3 biggest sites Socially (prob add pinterest in that as well to make it 4) and if the small company only dedicates 2 hrs total with their social media streams then the consumers can still get a sense of a reachable customer support.

      I do believe that the whole scope of the article wasn’t about “dominating” social media right out of the gate because let’s face it that is just not possible. Credibility and relationship building are key, but once it is established it should be easier to do a launch to get the business’ financials growing allowing for possible addition of social media marketing into the budget.

  • Hello Erik , Social Media playing a vital role always now a days it become more effective. I read your stuff and you done a good job. Your blog are very informative and useful as well. People can understand properly after read one time and this the quality of an article writer. Anyway thanks for sharing.

  • Is this going to have a way to shut out the local business man? Gary Vee from Vayenermedia believes everything will come full circle and go back to local but his media group only represents large firms. Personally I think the opportunity to connect with out customers and make them are friends and loyal to us is greater then it has ever been. I am going all in on the small business man.

  • social media play a big role in any business and this is very important to find right people for your business by targeting the right place
    Prince Ramgarhia recently posted…How to Change Fonts on Android Without RootMy Profile

  • Hi Erik,

    Can’t agree with you more on the customer service point. In my country, India, the E-Commerce brans like Flipkart and Amazon are providing much better and faster customer service on social media sites than by email or phone. They also make sure to netralize any negative comments on FB or Twitter by quickly replying to it and apologizing/reasoning.

    It a very welcome change. And it’s not only related to big brans, but also to the Government bodies like Railways etc.
    Sourav recently posted…6 Questions To Ask Before You Start A BlogMy Profile

  • Hello Erik Emanuelli,

    Social media indeed have revolutionized whole of the online business content in the world.
    Many of the companies either big or small they all are promoting their products on
    these platforms.
    The changes to these social media is occurring constantly.
    Even if there is any problem, the customer complain on the social media is watched out quickly
    by the companies and it is being fixed out right away.
    This also leads to manage their more reputation in the market and more of the customers are
    attracted towards them.

    It depend on how, one could use these social media platforms in a more
    attractive and innovative ways to attract more and more customers.
    Every body is in a race to brand their company and business, at a large extent.
    The social media is acting more like a nuclear weapon for these online business companies.

    Thank you.
    Keep rolling 🙂
    Shantanu sinha

  • Hi Erik,

    It’s nice to see you here on Lisa’s site. I think in all honesty that this makes things more challenging for small business.

    There is now more content online generated in one day than in all of human history through 2014. There is so much noise and that requires us as small business owners who don’t have million dollar or multi-million dollar budgets to really think through our messages, branding, and appropriate strategies.

    There are many, many things we can learn from corporations, but at the same time our limitations are greater and so is our flexibility.

    It’s actually small business that is teaching big business. I see small buisnesses every day who are using social media in new and inventive ways to connect with their audiences.

    What I believe we are starting to see is a realization, finally, that mass marketing doesn’t work. As you said, it’s about relationships. But, how do we get to those relationships that propel us?

    For the first several years it’s going to be through developing communities where our audiences are at and every ecosystem has it’s own way of experiencing community.

    This will be the challenge… how does a small business invest the time and resources to develop community instead of just posting their “stuff”?

    There you go again Erik, challenging me to think… lol.

    Thanks for your article and have a great week!

    ~ Don Purdum

    • Hi Don, thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment on this one. You are right about it becoming more challenging for small businesses with smaller budgets and less people on staff to manage their social networks. It takes a lot of time to develop those relationships on social media and many businesses owners don’t have that time as they are busy running their business. It will be interesting to see if they change their budgets to increase their social marketing in the coming years. Nice to see you back here Don! Have a great weekend ahead.
      Lisa recently posted…How Social Media is Changing How Big Brands Interact With CustomersMy Profile

  • May be, This is all because of Online Reputation Management (ORM). Companies scared of bad reputation in marketing therefore they keep doing customer supports 😀 😀 😀 . On the other side their are still free Business firms are not providing Support for their product and services like Facebook, Google products like chromecast. They just simply created F.A.Q section on their respective websites. May be everyone is not like following same trend.

    Thanks for sharing your deep observation on market study.

  • Erik, you are all over. Omnipresent. A god LOL!

    So happy you’re stressing this point. We need big biz to shift in their customer service and social gives monster brands 1 more channel to connect with customers. Gone are days of phone only service in timely fashion. Now email and twitter handles respond pronto. Or reps thru email and twitter 😉

    I recall dealing with a pleasant big company a while back. They responded to tweets in minutes. And I was in India, although now that I think of it, the customer service rep was likely my neighbor, LOL.

    Well written post Erik. Thanks much, and thanks Lisa for sharing the stage.

    Ryan

  • Hello Erik

    Social media is currently my biggest “asset’ to all my websites and online ventures. The facts that you state are very true and I thank you for this detailed article.

    As an internet marketing and business owner, social media is very important to me and the changes to these social media networks are happening constantly.

  • Hi Erik ,

    No doubt that social media is playing great role for business in getting customers They launched campaign on social media like facebook but You said right facebook became crowed place where getting noticed by one is not easy althought business want to try their hand on facebook too.

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