The Importance Of Social Media

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Are you a social media fiend? Scrolling through Facebook for the fifth time during your lunch hour seeing nothing new? Don't worry you're not alone.

With social media evolving more and more every day, there's no wonder that a staggering 72% of the online population are using it. The average user spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, using social media and other forms of online communications. So why is it that brands haven't cottoned on to this and upped their game?

Don't get me wrong, for some companies, social media won't bring a huge return on investment but with almost 56% of the population using social media, why wouldn't you try to utilise the free platform?

Social Media user statistics 2016

As someone who is addicted to social media, it often confuses me how some brands can ace the market, yet others dont even have social media accounts?

I went on a search for some examples of what I mean.

Surprisingly, at first glance Caffe Nero doesn't seem to focus much attention on their social media accounts, which surprised me as both Costa and Starbucks are heavily active on social. I got in touch with Caffe Nero who were more than happy to comment:

“Currently we are not on Twitter due to resourcing issues. Understandably, we would like to deliver the best customer service possible and are aware users expect a short response time when on Twitter. At present, we unfortunately do not have the resources to provide this. We hope this however will change within the near future though, as we slowly expand our social media presence (for example, we launched our official Instagram page in January.)"

With the new Instagram page launching in January, I was intrigued to see how they were doing.

And they're doing okay it seems. I mean, it's not the biggest following, but the engagement with their followers is high. They interact really well with customers and also post really fresh, vibrant images. Its a good start, they have a long way to go but after speaking to Michael from Caffe Nero, it seems that they are investing a lot of time in getting it right, which is great to hear!

Cafe Nero social account

Getting Your Brand Right

A great example and one of my favourite social media accounts has to be Innocent Drinks.

Innocent Drinks Twitter account

They understand that their competitors are lacking in this field so are taking full advantage. With a dedicated social media team who thoroughly understand their target audience, they are totally nailing their marketing.

Although they're ‘just a drinks brand', they pride themselves on so much more via their online marketing. Engaging with their customers as quickly and efficiently as possible, posting interesting news articles for their followers and also creating some really interesting mini campaigns, they totally get what they need to do to be the leader in the pack.

Innocent Drinks Eurovision Facebook

The content that they're pushing out on each platform is humorous and 100% shareable, as you can see. It's not only the images that Innocent post out, it's the accompanying text that go alongside them which sometimes creates the engagement.

With the recent launch of their #NightMarketing campaign, people are now engaging with them all hours of the day, which is pure genius if you ask me. You will see below a couple of examples of the #NightMarketing below but if you want to see more, just search the hashtag on Twitter - you won't be disappointed.

Innocent Drinks Night Campaign Twitter

I have been made aware by Innocent that up until September 2015, they only had one individual working on the account where now there's still only two. It shows that you can get creative with your social account even if there's only a couple of you!

Helena, Communities Manager at Innocent, “We've always written interesting stuff on our packaging, and our social media channels are a natural extension of that. We try to produce genuinely interesting and entertaining stuff that people actually want to see, as well as reminding them to buy our drinks now and again. Social is an important space for us to give people a daily reminder of what we're all about, but its primary function is to give us a way of having one on one conversations with people, and listening to what they have to say. The things people tell us on Twitter and Facebook like they want smoothies without banana in, or they want us to put more strawberries in our strawberries & banana smoothie get passed onto people at Innocent who have the power to make those decisions, and can actually change the way we do things. So it's a crucial way of getting feedback from the people who ultimately pay our wages."

PROPERCORN are another great example of doing things differently but making sure its ‘#DoneProperly'. They know their target audience and are successfully engaging with them on each one of their social media platforms.

I was first made aware of PROPERCORN when I saw someone share something with them on Twitter, I gave them a follow and the rest is history.

What massively helps PROPERCORN is their customer service, it's brilliant. They go that extra step in making sure you remember their brand in the best light possible. Do you make sure your customers are always happy? If not, why not? When you're publicly engaging with someone on social media, you need to make sure that you do so by your brand guidelines. Don't have any? Get some.

It's this that sets them apart from their competitors. In all honestly, I couldn't tell you another popcorn brand, other than PROPERCORN. Is that because it tastes the best or is it because they're active on every social media platform I am, so I never have chance to think about any others? (I think it might be both)

I spoke to the founder of PROPERCORN, Cassandra Stavrou, and this is what she had to say:

"Social media is such a powerful tool for businesses if used in the right way. For us, it's not about farming new customers but is an amazing way to personally engage with our core followers, whilst showcasing some of our work and creativity. Instagram has proven to be the perfect platform for us and a great deal of care and attention goes into curating our page. It's a very vibrant celebration of all the things that make us tick and a real reflection of our teams passion for creativity and style."

You can tell, just by speaking to team members at PROPERCORN and flicking through their Instagram, that what Cassandra has said is true.

Propercorn Instagram

You need to ensure that if your aim is to get your brand in front of as many people as possible, that you make your content shareable. Similar to Innocent, PROPERCORN do exactly this. They create humorous images/blogs to entice people to share. The below caught my eye and is most definitely something we will be doing in the office (cue a blog about shapes made from popcorn).

Propercorn Instagram popcorn

Your business doesn't have to be sexy to be shareable, so long as the things you're publishing are right for your target audience then you will get the engagement you're after. If you're engaging in things within your community, sharing news stories and writing regular blogs then your following will feel more engaged and obliged to share.

JMW Solicitors is a local Manchester law firm with almost 9,000 followers on Twitter and over 700 on Facebook, which is a rather substantial following for a local firm. They engage well with their followers and get back to them in an efficient manner. With blogs and news stories being shared daily, they evidently value their followers and also feel the benefit from using social media.

JMW Twitter account

I caught up with the digital marketing team at JMW to see what their thoughts are on social media:
“JMW adopted the use of social media at an early stage as part of its ongoing marketing strategy. Traditionally the legal sector can be far more wary of using social media to invite discussion from the public, but at JMW we fully embrace it.

"Twitter especially, has become a place to actively engage with our followers about the events they attends, the service they receive and how they can work with JMW. We use social media for brand outreach and it is a great way to communicate directly with the public. We want the people to see that JMW stands out from others in the legal market as we are not a stuffy law firm and we take pride in showcasing the work our team does by sharing photos, articles and news.

"Over 20% of the traffic on the JMW website in the last financial year was a direct result of social media outreach. This is a huge number of people that perhaps without social media may never have heard of JMW."

With JMW continuously attending/hosting events, this is a great platform for them to share this on. They contribute a lot to LinkedIn groups and are actively engaging with clients/potential clients on all channels.

They understand what works for them as a business and understand where the vast majority of their clients spend their time online. Due to this they can exploit these channels and push out the correct content at the right times to get the best return on investment.

Do you know what social media platform your potential clients are using?

What You Need to Do

You need to make sure the people who run your account are as bought into your brand as you are. Think of the damage that could be done to your company if you let the wrong person manage your account. Let them get to know your brand, the ins and outs, how you speak about yourself and what not to say, BEFORE you let them loose on social media.

You need to have a social media strategy in place so that the people running your social media account/s have a guide in place to refer to.

Anything and everything that you push out on any form of social media needs to be on brand, otherwise what's the point in doing any marketing if it's all going to be mismatched?

Try and avoid the ‘automated response' type replies to customers. If you want your customers to feel valued then try personalised responses. Instead of ‘Sorry to hear this, DM us this and we will get back to you', why not ‘I am sorry*name* l, this isn't what we want to hear! If you wouldn't mind popping us a message we will get onto this right away!'

Social media strategy, where to start

It seems simple, but you'd be surprised how many companies just don't do any of the above.

Remember what happened to HMV when they announced they were shutting down? It was a disaster.

HMV Twitter

If you're planning on something as large as closing down your business/social media account, you need to make sure you have a plan in place.

Also the same as when someone leaves the business that has access to social media you need to change passwords and remove their access. This may be common sense but I have spoken to a lot of people who still have access to their old companies social media accounts. They'd never do anything wrong, but if they wanted to they could and you surely don't want to risk something like that.

Don't forget that, yes social media can work wonders for your company, as you can see with the examples above, but it can also be the downfall if you don't have the right structure in place.

It's a great way to promote new products, announce competitions, share blogs, and get to know your customers and you can do this perfectly so long as you have the right structure in place.

When I hear about a new brand the first thing I do is look at their social media, you find out a lot more about a company this way. Do they treat their customers correctly, do they share interesting stuff? Just the same as when I have looked for a job in the past, I check social media as they have real insights into the business and you can get a vibe from the images without even going into an office. Could this actually put someone off coming to work for you or coming to you for business? If you wouldn't tell people to go on your social accounts to see what you've been up to, then you need to up your game.

Social media is pretty easy to run when you have the backbone in place.

Social media will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, don't keep your company in the stone age, bring yourselves forward and reap the rewards together.

I-COM offers a consultation-based service for social media enquiries - if you have any questions then please get in touch.

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