How to move from like to love on social media

This Valentine’s Day, you may very well have celebrated a relationship that started with a ‘like’ on social media, but this article isn’t about how quickly that ‘like’ become ‘love’, it is about how brands using social media can create meaningful, committed relationships with their digital followers.

The landscape of social media is ever-changing and the user numbers ever-growing, making it more and more difficult for brands to build and retain a loyal, engaged digital community.
To fully understand the enormity of the challenges that brands face in the social media environment, here are some jaw-dropping stats:

  • Almost half the world’s population is active on social media
  • Internet users have on average 7.6 social media accounts
  • There are ten new social media users added every second
  • More than 90% of retail brands have two or more social media channels
  • More than 80% of SMME businesses use social media
  • There are 60 million active business pages on Facebook, of which 5 million are active advertisers
  • $90 billion was spent on social media advertising in 2019

If those stats don’t intimidate you, then these sure will:

  • 96% of users who discuss brands on social media do not actually follow those brands’ profiles
  • 78% of users who post complaints or negative comments about a brand on certain social media channels expect feedback within an hour
  • People younger than 28 are two times less likely to engage with branded content than those aged 55 and above

Just like when wooing a love interest, there are some obvious tactics you can use to get noticed, get personal, get connected and get committed on social media. We explore these and offer some advice:

Get noticed

Step one is to be present in the same social media environments your clients and potential clients are. Knowing whether this is Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter etc. requires both an understanding of your market and each social media channel as well as your capacity in terms of time, budget etc.

It is not enough to simply have a profile or page set up, you need to be active and consistent; creating and posting content that is suited to your market, stops the thumb-scroll, invites engagement and is on-brand. This is where things get tricky.

For most people, browsing and engaging on their social media accounts is a time to switch off, relax and unwind. They are not interested in being ambushed by and spammed with hard-sell advertising i.e. content that has no value to them. A brand’s social media content must be unique, beautiful, intelligent and most importantly relevant.

Social media marketing is not like other traditional promotional or advertising channels such as print, radio and television advertising, billboards, marketing brochures, flyers etc. it is unique because it enables immediate two-way engagement; an open invitation to connect in real-time. It also carries an immediate risk to repel an audience who can disassociate with a simple click!

Get personal

People like people; your social media audience wants to feel a personal connection with your brand; identify with the persona behind the content. Therefore, it is essential that your social media strategy acknowledges and adheres to your brand values and brand personality and creates a digital voice and tone that can establish a personable presence for engagement.

Get connected

In any relationship, you must learn the likes, dislikes, interests, passions and behaviour of your partner. It is the same when building a relationship with your market on social media. You need to constantly study your audience, learn from the insights made available to you on the social media channels and read the subtle tells your followers give in the what, when and how they engage. Also, understand that people change, so this is a moving target that requires an agile and dynamic strategy.

While doing your analysis, remember that tools are meant to help us be smarter and more efficient, not suffocate us or get in the way. It is incredibly important to not let the tools do the thinking, but rather to apply your thinking to the tools.

To keep a relationship exciting, you need to introduce and try different things, some will work better than others, but it is important to not be static and rigid and remain open to new ideas. Sometimes the concepts, designs and copy you are proudest of doesn’t do as well as you hoped, and sometimes the content you are hesitant about, performs exceptionally well.

The key to success here is to carefully analyse what your audience is receptive to so that you may keep doing that, and attract even more people to grow your community.

Get committed

There is no ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it’ when it comes to social media. No matter how many likes you get, commitment is not guaranteed; it is a step and repeat exercise on replay.

Being present, active, consistent, relevant and connected are necessary steps in creating a committed community online. However, never forget that commitment works both ways. Your social media audience will only stay loyal to you if you continue to live up to your promises, online and offline. This brings us to one of the most often-ignored key success factors of social media marketing; integrating your social media strategy with the greater context of your brand strategy and marketing plan. No relationship operates in a bubble; outside influences have an impact, third parties get involved, realities change, ignore these at your peril.

For all these reasons and more, love happens when you partner with a strategic brand agency that has a holistic view of how social media marketing works within the bigger picture and can strategise, create and manage your content in a responsible, effective and productive way.