More businesses than ever are turning to social media as a means to advertise. I believe that any effective digital marketing strategy has to include some form of social media strategy.
The world today is one of iPhones, Android devices and computer screens. It’s a world that spins so fast that sometimes the images, phrases, and colours of modern media blur together and get lost.
It’s also a little bit scary when you look at how close we’re getting to TV shows like Black Mirror. But, it’s mostly exciting, and social media adds a lot of exciting opportunities for businesses.
Marketing activites such as flyering and buying television commercials, although not expired, seem to be losing traction with new mediums emerging.
We all know that we need to market online, and connect with our audiences through social media.
That’s why I wanted to explore some tactical and effective methods on how to brand your business online through social media channels.
So What Can We Do?
We’ve established it’s difficult to make noise in the marketing industry, amidst the sounds and distractions of other competitors.
Additionally, how does one know what means of advertisement is most effective for their business? To save you some time we’ve taken a look at some of the most popular phone apps, and weighed in on the pros and cons of each app in the realm of marketing.
I’ve also included a few tips for some of the standard social media outlets. I’ve decided to focus primarily on Instagram and Snapchat, as they seem to be quickly emerging, but slightly less popular than Facebook and YouTube, which most consumers seem to be more familiar with now.
Instagram: A new frontier for digital image advertisements.
Instagram began in 2010 and has taken the visual app world by storm. Originally this app was mainly utilized by the “trendier” or “hip” who wanted to post namely artsy images.
However, now it seems as though just about everyone has jumped onto the Instagram bandwagon. Instagram makes it easy for users to scroll through the app’s main interface and view images the people they follow have posted.
Businesses have evidently taken into consideration a number of eyes on Instagram, and are now using the app to push their products appeal. We have seen everyone from famous celebrities, to major retail players advertising themselves on Instagram.
The smart brands take advantage of all that Instagram has to offer, including the stories and live feature. A great example of this would be Bustle, a major media outlet for women, who currently have 1.7 million Instagram followers and growing. They use humour and soap-operatic stories to build their brand online.
Pros of Advertising on Instagram:
Keeping beat with technology and the lives of consumers
In a busy world, people don’t always have time to read in detail, and it is said that a photo is estimated to be worth a thousand words. Instagram allows marketers to briefly capture their audience’s attention with a flashy photo of their product.
It gives them the opportunity to make their product look like gold essentially.
Major players can endorse product
Many major names can now endorse products to large audiences through sponsorship. What we mean by this is many companies are looking to celebrities, and socialites. Relying on their large followings to advertise their product for them.
Usually, the sponsoring company will then send them free product, or afford for them to be compensated in some way. This enables companies to grow their interest group by getting their name out to more people.
Of course, if you can’t get an influencer to use your product, you might just try to get a shout out on their Instagram to build your numbers. Don’t be afraid to share and ask for a shoutout!
Using potential free advertisement
The use of hashtags and “tagging” in general, on Instagram, allows for other users to click on the Instagram handle and access information about the product at hand.
If someone was selling “socks” they would be able to click on the hashtag (visually: #SOCKS) and find images of this product. They could also find pictures of the product other consumers have tagged, by tapping on photos and clicking on the tag in the picture.
This forces companies to be more transparent about their product, as more people are talking. It also affords for companies to have their consumers advertise for them, which ultimately saves them money in their companies marketing sector.
Cons of Advertising on Instagram
The Pace of Our Busy World Doesn’t Always Have Time for Details
The busier the world gets the less time is afforded for people to really decipher through Instagram captions. They may see a flashy photo, and double tap, boosting it’s “like” count, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are interested in the product at hand.
They may just enjoy the photo posted. If there was important product information in the caption it may have been missed by consumers.
More and more famous names are being sponsored by companies, and this is making some consumers skeptical of products. For example, many celebrities recently endorsed the “Fyre Music Festival”.
Thousands of consumers paid to go and their experience ended up being nothing like the glamourous trip celebrities posted about on social media.
Therefore, it is ever more important for companies to stay as transparent as possible when advertising on social media.
Your Audience Size May Vary
The use of “tagging” or “hash-tagging” is only as the traction it builds online. For example, if only a few people are using a particular hashtag, it is likely not going to receive many views from outsiders.
However, for example, if everyone is using the hashtag “WHIPANDNAYNAY” it will continue to get traffic and an audience from others who are curious.
Snapchat: Where Advertisement Meets Intimate
Snapchat was originally intended to be a more intimate app between friends but has recently been buzzing in the world of marketing. Snapchat is now used to view stories of those you have added to the app. You can open the app, and on the main screen select stories to view, from those your friends have posted.
You can only view stories of friends you have added, and only friends who have added you can view your stories. Companies are utilizing the apps current popularity, and attaching advertisements to the end of stories to boost product knowledge.
We’ve analyzed the pros and cons of using Snapchat as a means of advertisement for businesses.
Pros of Advertising on Snapchat:
In terms of UX (user experience) Snapchat has always come across as a more intimate app, you only add specific people, and not everyone has the access or option of viewing your story.
This is true for companies too, users will only add celebrities or companies they are very interested in. For example, users are able to add companies, and interest groups when they get ahold of their Snapchat “handle”, meaning they are in control of what products they follow and can pick and choose what stories they view, based on what interests them as a consumer.
The Benefits of “Real Time”
Snapchat’s are often taken in the moment, and allow for very little “on-spot” editing. This makes Snapchat feel a lot more real to consumers. It isn’t an app necessarily filled with glossy images and over processed adds.
This feature for lack of a better phrase can give your products “real-appeal”. There are no overly flashy gimmicks, just quick snippets of what your product really is.
Potential for Growth
Snapchat is slowly introducing adverts into the app, that will allow for companies to pay for advertisements to be included on the end of stories people are watching. Although this is a pushier way to get your product out to consumers, it seems to be relatively effective.
The consumer buying process is changing, and Snapchat and micro interactions are part of it.
Quick Viewing of Product
Snapchats cannot be more than ten seconds. This feature allows for the product to be viewed in a quick period of time. It feels less pushy than forcing consumers to watch lengthy adds if they are on-the-go. Users can quickly tap through a series of ads quickly, and pick and choose based on what interests them.
This gives consumers more control over what products they view, and what interests them.
Cons of Advertising on Snapchat:
Limited Audience Range
Snapchat is limiting in terms of audience range, because of the intimate experience it provides. Unlike Instagram, it doesn’t have a general Explore page that allows you to view tons of peoples images.
The dialogue of Snapchat remains between the people who have “added” a friend on the app, and those “adding” the friend back. While a celebrity may have many people adding them on Snapchat, it doesn’t guarantee fans of a soda company will add them on Snapchat.
Therefore, there are some downfalls in terms of marketing when it comes to the intimate experience of Snapchat.
The Brevity of the App Has Limits
In terms of the “real time images” the app provides, Snapchat’s as formerly mentioned, only last ten seconds. This means unless the snap is very specific, there isn’t much time to really view and learn about the product.
There is also very little time to capture the attention of product consumers or users. For example, if one was trying to create an advertisement for a product, and wanted to feature details for consumers, it would have to be done in ten second clips.
Additions to the App Changes the Intimate Experience It Offers
Snapchat has also introduced some quirky filters, although they aren’t as “glamorous” as those found on Instagram, they do take away some of the “real-ness” of Snapchat.
One of the great appeals of Snapchat is how natural it is. If companies find ways to put up a marketing “facade” amidst the “Snapchatting world” the “live” factor of Snapchat could lose some appeal.
Possibility of Frustrating Consumers
Although it is a bonus for marketers to be able to directly insert advertisements at the end of a series of Snapchat stories, it could become annoying for consumers.
Imagine having to watch an advertisement every time you wished to view a friend’s story. This feature in and of itself, could become quite irritating for users, and force them to use alternative apps to Snapchat. This has happened on YouTube. Adds have been put into place before videos, and although it seems to not have hindered YouTube’s success, it certainly does annoy some users.
If users are annoyed they could already loose interest in the products being advertised, simply because their images are prohibiting them from their former entertainment.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (And the Rest) Some Branding and Marketing Strategies to Consider
For B2B businesses, even many B2C companies, it’s unwise to ignore these platforms if you want to connect to your stakeholders. Here are some tips on how to brand yourself further:
Be brand consistent.
Make sure your branding is consistent on every platform. This means that the images you choose, the colours you select, the logo you have should be the same across the board. Yes, you’ll want to change the tone of your outreach depending on the social media outlet you choose, but the voice and mission of your brand should be the same.
Be strategic about ad campaigns.
Personally, I think Facebook ads are still quite effective for most businesses, especially ones that are growing. For a fairly inexpensive marketing budget, you can get a lot of traction – if you learn how to master a few Facebook ad campaign tips:
- Target your audience by location, interests, age
- Experiment with different headlines and images
- Try experimenting with different timed campaigns – one day vs. five day campaigns
- Think about your ‘Call to Action’ – what do you want the ad to accomplish?
- Use images that represent your brand, but will catch people’s attention
- If it’s working, don’t stop. Facebook, like Google has algorithms that reward success. If you have an ad that is converting, keep it going.
- Always A/B test your campaigns – use different images, headlines, etc. to test out which one gets more traction
Build online and offline relationships.
Social media can be a great way to build your connections. Use Twitter to reach out to potential partners, as well as building an audience. Get old-school with outreach, and by that I mean, don’t forget to network.
Join LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, start discussions, ask for introductions. Building a business online means building real-life relationships as well. Use social media as a tool, but don’t forget the real stuff.
Use Industry and Customer Relevant #Hashtags
If you hashtag properly, they will come. Don’t forget about #hashtags in your communications. For B2B companies, make sure you understand and use industry #hashtags and terms in your posts.
For savvy, creative marketers – why not try to create your own #hashtag campaign to get unique shares amongst your audience? For local companies, find out what the #supportlocal #hashtags are in your area to build traction. If you find yourself in my hood, use #kwawesome!
Plan ahead! And share, share, share.
Use a service like Buffer (my personal favourite) to schedule all your posts, and easily share other industry-relevant material to your audience. You can also hire a social media manager to manage your accounts and create stunning images, taglines, and #hashtag campaigns that can grow your brand that much quicker.
Become a master of one.
Choose one social media outlet and master it! While we think it’s important to have a presence in many social media outlets, many companies get better traction when they master one platform first. Figure out who your target audience is and pick a platform where you can reach the most people quickly.
What does the future hold in terms of Advertising on Social Media?
Ultimately, as more and more social media apps appear on the digital playing field, it is imperative that marketers keep on their toes. Consumers are constantly trying out new apps, and reverting back to old beloved apps, and this poses a challenge for businesses. Here are a few tips we’ve compiled to help you navigate the future of social media outlets and marketing:
- Learn as much as you can about new and emerging apps.
- Take this knowledge and assess it through the lens of marketing.
- Don’t be afraid to get creative and take risks. For some companies the unique aspects of their advertisements are really what capture the attention of consumers.
- With apps continuously being updated by software designers, it is hard to say what will be the next hottest app in the field.
- Versatility and flexibility are key in today’s world of marketing.
Don’t be afraid to get out there. Find the socila media outlets that will work best for your business and attack them. If you want to build a professional, social media campaign, talk to the experts. A great creative team can help build your brand online and off!