By adaptive - September 16th, 2014

As Social media platforms and market trends shift and change it is vital that your corporation is prepared

In the first part of this series we examined the social media toolbox and some of the strongest tactics available to your corporation when building your brand. This second part of our three-part feature examines how to adapt social tactics to changing platforms, trends, people and moods and why this is essential.

“A decade ago social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor didn’t exist, and now these digital platforms have become integrated into our daily lives,” says Thomas Brown, Director, Strategy and Insights at the Chartered Institute of Marketing. “It’s hard to know what will exist in the next three years, but what’s important is that you are consistently keeping an eye on any new technologies and trends your competitors are using so you can adapt your tactics and keep on winning.”

Staying ahead of competitors is certainly one good reason for ensuring that your business is on the ball, another is the ability to remain competitive. New ideas and social trends can offer up potentially lucrative new markets and the opportunity to build deeper relationships with your corporation’s existing customer base.

Louise Pelerin, Marketing Communictions and Social Executive at MyVoucherCodes adds: “The social media climate is changing continuously and it is extremely trend sensitive, therefore it is important to follow these trends and to understand what your audience likes or does not like. Looking at your social media insights and studying your social media activity is vital as it can help you to understand your audience and set up new goals and strategies.”

MyVouchercodes has around 320,000 social media followers because they have made adapting to social change into a tactic in itself, the mood shifts and they’re ready. They recognise what works and reset unsuccessful strategies almost immediately.

“People will start to hide your posts or unfollow you on Twitter and you’ll see a decrease in engagement and reach if your methodologies are not adaptable,” adds Pelerin.

Social media is a mercurial and fluid medium. Forcing social media tactics into a rigid plan doesn’t allow for the quick reactions needed in the digital arena and may potentially damage your brand’s reputation in the process.

“Social media is a responsive, multi-channel medium with tools and trends that undergo changes almost every three months,” says Juanita Vorster, Owner of At That Point. “It requires being constantly in touch with current affairs, happenings in industries unrelated to yours, letting go of traditional B2B and B2C marketing thinking and embracing the cliché of ‘being social’.”

Keeping up with Social

Getting personal

It’s easy to forget that there was a time before social media. Twitter wasn’t around before 2009 and now it has around 245 million people hooked on its rapidly scrolling lines of words and images. Building a brand identity in an arena that changes so swiftly may look impossible, but there are methods that you can use to keep ahead or on top of the pack.

“You have to be authentic and original and have the flexibility to respond across different mediums within the context of the customer,” says Andrew Yates, CEO of Artesian. “The best tactic is consistency, this builds trust and advocacy.”

Abigail Steel, owner of Blackberry Cottages Consultancy adds another layer to the mix: “Have a monthly schedule and plan your time. This is as relevant if you do it internally as if you are using someone else. You need to check the monthly plans and the success you are achieving. Following other people who are either your competitors or offer a similar service will also help you to stay on top of trends and keep your customers interested.”

It’s worth keeping an open mind when it comes to your social strategy; sometimes taking a leap to the left isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, as Yates pointed out, you need to keep your messaging and identity consistent throughout so your clients always know who you are and what you are selling.

There is a difference between missing a trick and changing just because someone else has done it. People are easily bored and quick to forget, move on or leave. Sometimes a trend or a change isn’t necessarily one that is worth investigating which is why it is vital that the business be aware of what’s happening in their space at all times.

“In order to adapt messages and tactics we work hard to continuously stay up to date with both international and local trends, updates to the platforms and audience needs,” says Vorster. “Change for the sake of change might be a risky business so we use the information gathered during monitoring exercises, match it with the objective for the specific channel and use what we have learned to adjust messages, formats or both accordingly.”

The key words here are: agile, flexible, adaptable and fast. For an effective social media strategy that doesn’t collapse at the first hint of change, it’s best to avoid rigidity and to be increasingly customer centric.

Brown offers up four additional tactics that can be used to keep your businesses social content fresh:

  1. Consider finding a personality in your business who can regularly engage with customers through blog content and social updates.
  2. Provide a consistent stream of fresh, relevant and different content through social channels.
  3. Generate content and conversations that reflect recent stories and events in the media that will interest your consumers.
  4. Engage with your customers about what they are doing and use customer data to execute targeted social projects and campaigns quickly that will drive interest and increase sales.
  5. Think about offering your customers a competition or an attractive price for your product. Ensure that your competition is linked from your website to your social media channels.

Sasko has used their Facebook presence to actively engage with consumers on a daily basis. Take a look at the image below.

Sasko Women's Day Giveaway

As you can see, the customer asked the question and it was answered on the same day. No delays and a reply that was precisely what the customer needed. They have also adopted the competition tactic very successfully as you can see from their Women’s Day giveaway below. The first image below shows what the prize was and the second shows how well it worked within their target market.

Sasko Flour Customer Queries

Sasko Women's Day Giveaway Analytics

Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast summarises it perfectly: “Brands need a strong grasp of what's happening on social media at all times. When we understand where our audience is and what they're discussing, brands can insert themselves into the conversation and become a part of a fresh and relevant discussion. Engaging in real-time with your audience around relative and timely content allows brands another opportunity for that two-way dialogue that makes social so unique. Social isn't a soapbox or a megaphone.”

In the third and final part of this series we will be looking at some case studies that reflect the use of tactics effectively as well as what tactics can be used to be interesting as a brand, without overtly manipulating your corporation’s customers.

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The Social Media for Customer Service Summit 2014

November 2014, New York

The Social Media for Customer Service Summit is your one-stop-shop for all the latest social media insight and best practice. It gives you a 360 degree look into building, operationalizing and initiating a successful social media strategy at your company

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