The majority of digital engagement these days takes place in the social media space and it is the obvious choice for many brands to establish engagement on these platforms. Society is more and more putting the individual at the centre of everything and companies and brands should now have a strategy in place that addresses communication with an individual, not a mass audience. Social networks are the outward manifestation of that growing individualisation.
Traditional marketing was always about a controlled message to a mass audience. New marketing is all about consumers controlling or even creating their own media content. The increased power of consumers drives the need for a new method of building engagement.
This is a radical change for companies who are now finding a challenge and opportunity in trying to engage with individuals.
Social media gives most users a feeling of control, as they are more empowered to seek advice and to compare products and services. They tend to trust peer reviews and non-branded content a lot more than any message from a company or brand. In an ‘always on’ society we can gather the content we desire and trust as it suits us. So how can companies and brands enter this circle of trust?
Active involvement is the best platform on which to build great levels of engagement with the new consumer. Showing a genuine interest in what drives the individual will be a powerful message to send out. Companies can no longer only focus on selling their products and services, they must now engage with their consumers by listening to what they have to say. Listening alone is not even enough, you must also demonstrate you have heard them and show you have made changes or improvements that will benefit them.
Listening to unaided conversations can lead to actionable insights for your company. Listening allows you to find out how people talk about you, who is doing the talking and how influential they are.
Most companies would struggle to prove a monetary benefit from social media. Instead of focusing on simply a popular channel (social networks), the overarching message is that it is now a strategic imperative to know who is interacting with you, when, where, how, why etc. From the listening piece rises an opportunity to participate in the conversation and present your consumers with content that is relevant and useful to them, content that allows them to start a conversation with you. Even better, content they want to share with others.
As a company or brand you have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with your consumers in the social media space. All too often still we see brands using the social media space as an extension of mass broadcasting, simply pushing out their campaign messages on a new platform. The results speak for themselves, there is no interaction by the consumers, who do not respond or share to the content or message.
Some companies have already embraced these changes and instead of pushing out their messages they are now acting as facilitators. The conversation can no longer be controlled in the traditional sense and relinquishing that control is part of embracing that change.