25 September 2017

Knowing me, knowing brands

The importance of ‘organic’ audience on Twitter

Choosing to follow a brand on social media is a bigger deal than meets the eye. After all, there’s not many occasions you actually choose to receive more messaging from a brand, meaning that electing to receive brand messaging on your feeds is pretty unusual, if not unique. In other words, choosing to follow a brand can presage powerful loyalty.

To marketeers, this may not seem like fresh news – but to brands it’s still all too often an untapped or misunderstood opportunity. Especially concerning that relatively silent army of users out there who follow, but don’t themselves tweet regularly. Think about it: we all know someone who probably shares a little too much information on social media, but what about the people who are just there to observe?

Even the most private individual will share a little bit of their personality with their social network, however small, through the brands they have chosen to follow. As you scroll through your social feeds the clever little algorithms will kindly suggest brand accounts you might like to follow. It will also tell you which one of your friends already follow them and serve you associated content at the top of your feeds.

It then follows that considering why a person would follow a brand on social media is key to understanding how to create an effective social media strategy. If you engage with a brand on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, then this too may penetrate your own social network – and that organic form of endorsement can be rather valuable. Your friends, you would hope, care about what you like, and what you are seen to be liking.

People power

Consumers will often seek out official brand social accounts for validation ahead of becoming a customer, prioritising opinions shared by other like-minded folks over what brands say about themselves. So what are your customers saying about you, or maybe more importantly, not saying about you? Research by GoGulf  suggests 49 percent of people share information on products hoping to change opinions or encourage action.

This peer-to-peer advocacy on social is a bit like choosing Nike over Adidas in the physical world. People notice which trainers you are wearing, in other words, which brand you are endorsing. Sounds simple, and frankly it is – but we’re still surprised by how many brands get caught up in the frantic need to be ‘doing something’ on social media, rather than putting this simple piece of consumer psychology at the heart of their strategy.

In practice, it means that before a brand posts their next bit of content, they need to consider its intended audience and if it meets the ‘shareable’  social bracket. Of course, behind that can sit plenty of homework: customer insight, research and an array of best-practice social media tactics to help brands structure their content and perform against set targets. But at the heart of true engagement remains the hearts of potential customers – and that’s your organic audience.

Value vs Values

In terms of your organic audience, success means removing any barriers in place to follow and engage with a brand through their own volition – and for that to snowball into success. But what about everyone else? There remains an open question around the value of your core advocates versus that of an unknown but paid-for audience, and this has prompted a lively discussion around so-called ‘vanity metrics’.

Beyond this divide, there’s also an acceptance that organic has its limits. Research shows that some users just won’t follow brands full stop, but we can help ensure there’s nothing stopping the remaining 58%. Meanwhile, data on social media use can measurably help convert engagement into customer acquisition.

The bottom line

Whatever your strategy, with a social presence comes responsibility. Consumers actively seek out brand accounts to communicate and engage with. People expect to have a response if they do reach out – be it a comment, complaint or general enquiry. Any effective social media strategy needs to set this consideration as a priority, remembering too that more often than not, your audience is online ‘out of hours’ and could expect you to be as well.

So the bottom line? Engage and stimulate in the ways people want, and ideally, when they want it. From nailing the metrics to boosting the brand personality, ask us how to get social media right – and boost your advocacy.