This post is a continuation of 10 Social Media Essentials for 2013. In the first post, we explored the importance of (1) Consider Mobile First!, (2) Leverage Converged Media, (3) Amplify Sourced Content, (4) Focus on Visual Storytelling and (5) Launch a Creative Newsroom. The following post explores five additional essentials focused on engagement, social events, search and brandplay.

6. Inspire Many Lightweight Interactions Over Time

On average, fans will see 50 posts and 50 tweets per year from a brand (based on 1-2 Facebook posts per day with a 8-10% attention rate on Facebook and 4-5 tweets per day with a 3% attention rate). In other words, brands have 50 chances to make an impression with each fan each year.

If the first five times you talk to a fan, you ask them to BUY, BUY, BUY or DOWNLOAD, INSTALL, MARRY ME, fans will be turned off and turned away. You need to earn their trust over time, by mixing lightweight content about the issues they care about with brand and product-specific information. That way, when you go for the big ask, they are ready to say YES!

7. Drive Excitement through Social Events

While lightweight interactions help build a community over time, brands have the opportunity to offer unique, socially-powered events to their fans in order to a surge in attention and engagement that serves as both a reward for participation in the community and an opportunity for fans to evangelize what is awesome about developing a relationship with the brand.

For example, Red Bull doesn’t just put up a banner at the X Games, they built a snow ramp for Shaun White. And when that’s not enough, they help  someone sky dive from space. RedBull Stratos was an epic marketing win. 8 million people watched the Livestream; seven million people engaged in social. For the month following the space jump, anytime someone talked about space, the conversation invariably included a mention of Red Bull. For example, when a dad launched his son’s Skylanders Tree Rex figure into space, Red Bull also jumped into the conversation. @RedBullStratos spotted the conversation on Twitter and joined in the celebration, tweeting that “Tree Rex needs his wings too.”

8. Foster One-to-one Social Engagement

One of the stories being written in the analysis of digital and social media of 2012 focuses on the role of Big Data in the latest presidential campaign. But the most important part of the Big Data story isn’t about data, it’s about people. By combining databases and overlaying social profiles against such data, brands (and campaigns) are able to connect with people as people, not unique identifiers. Knowing who they really are enables brands to turn the data into prescriptive actions, syncing online with people in the real world.

Service providers such as Adobe* and Salesforce are helping brands better merge, align and act based on data drawn from all of their available digital, CRM, social, psychographic, behavioral, partner and customer databases. Similarly, tools offered by companies such as Micro Strategy, as well as native and rapidly evolving Facebook targeting tools, allow you to develop significantly more sophisticated clusters based on brand affinities drawn from millions of data profile inputs.

9. Keep up with the Changing Search Game

Since its Penguin release, Google has made it clear that traditional SEO methods will decline in efficacy, giving way to quality content as the paramount route to discoverability. The “rise of real content” means that brands can no longer seek quick SEO fixes to drive organic traffic to their owned properties. Google is also using social signals and context from content and engagement on Google+ to determine quality of content and AuthorRank as signals for which content to display. Similarly, Bing Social Search is now deeply integrated with Facebook. When you are logged into Facebook, your searches will also generate social context.

As a result of these changes, social media and social for search are increasingly, mutually beneficial and essential elements of any integrated campaign. Social media content drives initial scale and engagement. Engagement triggers serve as a signal that boosts organic search results. Additionally, a robust and rich content strategy drives search results. If developed correctly, the content designed for search optimization also integrates with and amplifies social.

10. Join the Brandplay

People may start following a brand because they like the product; but they continue to follow because they enjoy the conversation. For all of the serious insights and recommendations about social media essentials, we cannot forget to have a little fun.

Taco Bell and Old Spice have learned the value of having a little fun with the brand in social. This has played out in popular campaigns such as the Old Spice Man, but the same attitude is also displayed in their daily interactions with fans and other brands. By engaging with each other, brands can increase attention and engagement with each. Check out the debate about fire sauce, volcanoes and tanks:

Brandplay isn’t just for consumer brands. Juniper, a B2B networking solutions provider, isn’t afraid to have a little fun with its Facebook fans. From IT-friendly ecards, to valentines and haikus embedded in lines of code, the brand is engaging its fans using the language, devices and humor that they enjoy. It works. The engagement rate on Juniper’s Facebook page is higher than Intel, Citrix, Zappos, Old Spice, Lady Gaga and Starbucks.

The following white paper addresses all 10 trends:

*Edelman client
Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto.

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