- Social media is an excellent way to reach brand fans that previously may have been out of reach due to distance. Social media efforts can be global if properly aligned.
- Make sure you have goals and strategies for your global social media outreach to measure how successful your efforts are, as well as ensure you have a plan on how to create and maintain the best presence possible.
- Engaging globally uses many of the same best practices as engaging more locally. However, remember to translate language colloquialisms and sayings, as well as be sensitive to other cultures in beliefs, in your brand’s global social media.
People the world over are engaging with each other—and with brands—like never before because of social media. And not only are people using social media to connect, they are using it to connect more deeply and further than was even possible a few years ago. Via the range of social media options (including the big players such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) people are learning about new products and brands from every corner of the globe, interacting with brand owners from Africa to China, Australia to Canada and back again—and buying products from across the globe.
- Tweet beauty tips and new product updates.
- Offer beauty tutorials on YouTube.
- Encourage consumer interaction and share news, knowledge, YouTube videos and more on Facebook.
- Invite consumers to share feedback on their experiences with your brand via your Facebook page.
- Distribute discount vouchers and coupons through Facebook.
Engaging From Afar
How do you take social media to the next level? Best practices remain fairly consistent despite your location, but there are some fun ways to take advantage of being near or far from your fans.
- Create a social gateway online for consumers to get direct beauty advice from your experts. This appeals not only to local customers but also allows the chance for long-distance fans to have an interaction they never could otherwise.
- Create a how-to look guide for your consumers to practice at home. Incorporate local trends to help give your brand a distinct voice and to share unique elements of your brand’s story.
- Look to gain interaction with consumers by asking them to share their home beauty tips with your social media audience (other consumers). This way, you can also see your reach as well as gain knowledge from a more global source.
Identify Social Media Goals
Now it’s time to make your social media presence work for your brand. The key to building a loyal, responsive following of people is to focus on three distinct groups—existing customers, new prospects and related businesses.
Figure out where most of your customers fall in terms of online usage, and then progress your strategy accordingly. For instance, decide what outcomes you would like to see from efforts to connect with consumers on Twitter and Facebook, or judge which social media outlet(s) you feel would be most effective for your brand and why. Do you want to increase global brand awareness or awareness/strength in a particular location? Test new markets for brand interest? Or simply connect more people the world over with your brand?
Finding a Following
Once you’ve decided on the goals you’re hoping your social media outreach will achieve, it’s time to find those people who can help you see them through. When seeking out social media connections, look for people with common interests to your target market, and start interacting online in those circles.
For example, seek out interaction with people who follow your competitors, and make an effort with members of brand-relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups and pages. Find out what else your followers follow, and engage there accordingly. These new followers might include people who are actively discussing beauty brands and beauty efforts in various tangential groups, as well as specifically targeted groups themselves.
Also, if you are targeting a particular country for growth, ensure the social media outlet you want to use is widely available and accepted there.
To begin building up a larger social media presence, use your e-mail address book to look for new connections and to invite new users to like your brand on Facebook or join your LinkedIn group. Some websites even let you upload your e-mail address book and look for social media matches automatically. If you have a connection through your brand with these contacts, it’s time to let them know about the new ventures and avenues you are taking your brand on.
If you feel uncomfortable directly contacting people in this way, you can always be strategic, picking and choosing those who you’d like to invite to participate in your social media interactions, depending on what your goals are. However, remember the point is to gain a larger global footprint for your brand, and one of the best ways for people to learn about new products, promotions and procedures from your business is from your own company and brand efforts.
When developing these groups and connections via social media, consistently question yourself about what you are looking to gain for your brand out of this connection, looking back at your goals and judging how your efforts will achieve them. Will they generate more sales and leads? Boost brand awareness? Or increase brand loyalty?
More than that, also consider why these people might want to connect with and follow your brand. You need to share something they value in order to sustain the relationship for the long run. Engagement on your part means you figuring out what they want from you. Some possibilities of what they might be looking to gain through this interaction include:
- learning about new products or new trends or new uses for familiar products that they may not have experienced before.
- saving money with special offers only available to social media friends.
- receiving tips and advice from trusted/new beauty brands.
- discovering more about your company’s practices and learning more about your efforts in being an ethical company with values they appreciate through demonstrations of your corporate responsibility.
- saving them time by demonstrating why you are a quality choice, clearly evidenced through fan feedback on your profile page/via group messages or retweets saying you’re good at what you do.
The golden rule of social media is to maintain two-way, respectful conversations with your followers. Be polite, share useful information like hints and tips, listen to their opinions and respond thoughtfully. Use social media to engage in the storytelling for your beauty brand—everyone everywhere enjoys a good story, and it’s much more likely to engage new fans, followers, customers and consumers.
Also, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Your brand’s social media presence shouldn’t be an outlet for you to constantly defend your brand, or to relentlessly spout self-congratulatory promotional information. It’s your chance to hear from consumers and to incorporate their ideas into your growth, not force your brand onto unsuspecting followers.
Starting a profile and then abandoning it, leaving it to gather dust, is another social media don’t. If you aren’t managing your own story and engagement, someone else might be. When consumers have questions about your brand, you want to make sure you have the appropriate presence and outlet from them to turn to in order to learn the answer—or at least to more information about what your brand offers.
If someone tells you he has the perfect system for accurately measuring how profitable your social media campaign is, be highly skeptical. Because social media is one of the newest ways to market a business, it’s not the only technique your business will be using, and unless your other existing marketing activities stop, how can you be 100% sure a sale has come from social media alone? It’s just not feasible to measure it in complete isolation.
Winning over hearts and minds is a long-term activity and difficult to measure accurately. What can be measured, however, is if your efforts are growing or shrinking your following, and how many people are following your calls to action—taking you up on special offers, visiting websites, signing up for an e-newsletter, making a brochure request—whatever it is you want them to do. Its reach is nearly unrivaled, and if you aren’t taking advantage of this relatively inexpensive form of marketing, it’s time to.
If, via your current social media efforts, your numbers are increasing, you’re doing something right. If they’re decreasing, it’s time to try a new strategy. And if they’re staying the same, it might be time to amp up your social media presence a little further, perhaps by engaging a new outlet (adding a Twitter feed in addition to a Facebook page, for example) or trying new engagement tactics (asking more questions, contests with winners, etc.)
Planning for the Long-term
Your social media following is a digital asset for your business, and it needs nurturing and respect to truly flourish. Don’t micromanage it. People can become quite absorbed interacting with their community, so resist the urge to check things every five minutes.
Once you understand how the relationships work—and how you can branch them out to work to your advantage—you may consider automating certain parts of your social media campaigns to save you time and effort, provided you don’t make your followers feel they are talking to a robot. Always make sure the human touch of your social media channels remain at the forefront.
The reason social media is so successful as a platform for promoting brands is because relationships are developed naturally over a period of time. The nurturing of these relationships is paramount, and it takes time and effort, especially to relate on a global level. However, correctly executed, social media efforts can bring in positive results, new fans and followers, and new business opportunities on a daily basis for your brand.
Colette Mason is a product creator, marketing expert, Web geek, author of Social Media Success in 7 Days and an inspirational speaker. www.colettemason.com
Ian Gibbins is a social media marketer, inspirational speaker, trainer and author of The New Guide to Social Media Profits. He delivers private sector workshops on a one-on-one or group basis to help businesses understand social media and create their own social media strategies.www.igmediamarketing.com