How B2C Marketers Can Improve Social Media Results
For B2C businesses, social media is a key marketing element to attract and engage target audiences.
Social media marketing’s main goals are to raise brand awareness, enter the buying consideration set, and support prospects, customers and fans.
From this perspective, social media has a dual marketing role:
- Give B2C companies a human face. Social media enables brand ambassadors across the company to interact directly with their audiences to support sales, handle customer service issues and engage with fans.
- Promote the brand. Like any other type of media, social media aggregates audience for content sharing and advertising. The challenge: This goes against the core behind social media.
B2C Social media use
2015 B2C data aggregated by TrackMaven provides a snapshot of how large B2C companies and consumer brands use social media to drive audience and engagement.
It’s based on the activity of 213 B2C brands on 5 social networks. (The research title, 2016 Social Media Impact Report: B2C Industry Edition, is a bit misleading; it doesn’t project trends for 2016. That’s what we do!!!)
In terms of audience:
- All industries use Facebook while few if any use Pinterest. Depending on your business, Pinterest can be a huge opportunity.
- High visibility products have more social media interaction. This isn’t a surprise. Social media reflects what we discuss. Be honest: How often do you discuss any sort of insurance needs???
In terms of audience growth versus engagement:
- Large social media audience growth doesn’t translate to greater engagement. Hospitality and cars are outliers. This is backed up by the 90%/9%/1% Rule. Most people lurk. (Here’s help to entice lurkers to act.)
- Quality, content and sentiment of social media engagement isn’t tracked in this report. These factors are key to your company or brand. For example: AIG’s Facebook page shows negative comments and spam.
B2C Social media platform specifics
1. Facebook remains a must
Facebook is the 900 pound gorilla of social media. It’s where people go to interact with their family, friends and social media connections by sharing and commenting on things of interest to them. Therefore, it’s logical that B2C businesses attract their largest audiences there.
You don’t need an MBA to understand Facebook’s earnings’ reports. Facebook states that they’ve reduced organic visibility yielding higher advertising revenue.
Target is known for their styling and visuals. On Facebook, Target offers social media fun but it’s got a lot of promotional pieces (aka ads) posing as social content.
I checked Verizon since most people get upset with cable and telcoms. But Verizon serves up fun, engaging content on Facebook. This is how to use Facebook and other social media platforms. They’ve created a fun related “Holidone” word/hashtag.
Their 24 hour customer service turnaround needs some work. (Might as well go old school and call them on a phone!) But at least, they’ve qualified their audience’s expectations.
To leverage the full power of your Facebook audience:
- Continually provide content that appeals to your audience.
- Support your quality content with paid advertising. Leverage the power of Facebook’s data to laser target your advertising.
- Cross-promote your Facebook activities. By their nature B2C companies have large advertising budgets. Make sure you’re directing customers to your Facebook page.
2. Instagram is social media’s brag book
When I was young my grandmother had a small photo album that she kept in her pocketbook with pictures of her 5 grandchildren. On the front in gold letters were the words: “Grandma’s Brag Book”
Instagram has transformed mobile phones into photographic memory machines that compete with real life.
For marketers, Instagram is about the beauty of your products and your customers.
It’s no surprise that luxury cars score big on Instagram. They’re beautiful, expensive products. Even more, their owners view them as making a statement and creating envy.
Mini (Cooper) is a well defined brand and its Instagram page shows this individualism.
Whole Foods’ Instagram feed shouldn’t be viewed if you’re hungry.
Expand your use of Instagram:
- Help your customers to think about your product’s beauty. Look at GE’s Instagram account for inspiration.
- Show behind the scenes and other velvet rope experiences. Oscar de la Renta is known for this on Instagram.
BTW—Don’t limit your images to Instagram. Neil Patel has the Ferrari photo (but no car) and the data to show how it earned him money (although not on Instagram).
3. Twitter isn’t engaging
This isn’t a surprise.
Many brands use Twitter as a traditional media broadcast tool. For some businesses such as airlines this can provide critical information for your audience.
B2C companies may be using Twitter to listen to prospects and customers but despite their follower numbers, there’s limited sharing.
Since L’Oréal was one of the major brands cited in the report, I checked their Twitter feed. It’s 140 character advertising. The first image could easily be a fashion magazine ad and the second Twitter image could show its audience how to get thicker lashes by using multiple photos.
Increase Twitter visibility by thinking like an information curator:
- Curate useful information related to your products on Twitter. For example, L’Oréal could share articles on skin and beauty that didn’t sell products. Alternatively, it could show how to select different looks for different clothes and occasions.
- Broadcast timely messages. Take a page from airlines. Give your audience key information they need on a timely basis.
4. LinkedIn, at a minimum, is everyone’s HR department
Every industry except entertainment (which doesn’t include the full breath of options) uses LinkedIn.
At first glance, I assumed that most of the B2C engagement on LinkedIn was job and PR related. Since many large corporations use LinkedIn to reduce talent acquisition costs. (Here are the details about LinkedIn.)
I randomly selected North Face to see how they used LinkedIn. It confirmed my suspicions with job posting after job posting.
Yet, when I checked Patagonia, I found a vibrant feed filled with articles not only about Patagonia but also about the issues at the core of their corporate beliefs such as sustainable products and manufacturing practices. (Sorry you’ll have to check their page to see the articles more legibly.)
This is a company worth using as an example at your firm.
- At a minimum, use LinkedIn to stay connected with former employees. They’re often a good source of new employee and business referrals. Also, they may potentially return. McKinsey is known for keeping track of their alumni, particularly as a source of new business.
- Test LinkedIn Publishing.
5. Pinterest remains a B2C opportunity
Play to Pinterest’s strengths: DIY, Food and Fashion. But don’t let these hold you back. Pinterest is BuzzFeed’s 2nd biggest source of social media traffic.
Fashion brands were early to the Pinterest party so it’s no surprise that Michael Kors struts his stuff here.
Don’t let the fact that it’s still largely female bother you. Women do most of the shopping.
- Tantalize potential customers. Make them want your products through the use of visual beauty.
- Show them how to use your products and align with your beliefs and aesthetics.
By their nature B2C companies tend to have large marketing budgets to develop and distinguish their brands and drive sales. To this end, they test and use every major form of media to expand their reach.
Therefore, B2C social media use is no surprise.
What is a surprise is that many of these top marketing organizations still don’t understand that, like other forms of media, social media requires investment to attract attention and engage audiences in a contextually relevant way.
The best examples are brands that have a strong set of core beliefs to which their customers are attracted. Think Whole Foods and Patagonia.
Alternatively get strong support from a social media savvy agency like Verizon did.
Translation: Understand your audience on each social media platform and provide contextually relevant content and engagement.
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