At the most recent monthly Event Huddle discussion, the subject was all about the hot topic of audience engagement and it quickly became apparent social media is undergoing some dramatic changes. Click here to watch the video of the event.
The event's panel discussed the shifting dynamic between consumers and brands. Below, we outline several key themes communicators can adopt to improve relationships with their online audiences.
The phenomenon that is social media originally came about from people’s desire to build communities of trust and connect with each other in a way that was becoming increasingly difficult in modern times.
In many ways, this has been lost along the way with brands and influencers taking advantage of social media for personal gain, self-gratification and self-valuation.
In order to regain customers’ trust, brands need to hark back to that ‘purer’ original purpose of building an online community that trusts them and their authentic content to achieve engaged, active followers and therefore valuable worthwhile leads.
Audiences are sick of irrelevant content that gives them little or no value and they are not ashamed to be fickle in their online dealings with brands.
Engagement means more than just providing shareable, likeable content. With the constant evolution of each platform, users want to be engaged with on a more personal level such as private messaging, story Q&As and comment interaction etc.
Engaging with your audience is vital to finding out more about your consumers, therefore being able to target accordingly. Don’t just assume or generalise, ask what people want to better serve their needs.
Users now look to brands for meaningful, transparent posts that offer value and not just self-congratulatory platforms to showcase achievements. The most valuable content is that which viewers want to share.
If you are offering value, then it is all about doing less and achieving more, offering tailored, well thought-out content that gives audiences what they want. Content, timing and regularity must be reflective of the audience’s needs.
Brands with a compelling story to tell have a tool in the arsenal that can be hugely useful. In some ways, social media content is becoming more editorial, giving more room for meaningful brand storytelling.
Planning in advance is crucial. Working out a long-term plan rather than relying solely on reactivity means that you control the brand narrative and are not a slave to the quick changing environment. This also helps maintain message consistency.
Influencers are losing their power as people are losing trust in their messages, they are being deemed ‘fake’ and audiences are moving across to ‘creators’.
Honesty and openness in brand voice is the best way to create an authentic social media presence. This must come from leaders who should adhere to the brand voice and set the tone for the rest of the company in terms of communications.
People no longer accept lies or excuses and brands can actually use apologies, mistakes and learnings to engage with public sentiment on a positive, human level. Accepting fault and offering solutions can humanise a brand and bring a social community closer together.