More than half of the Swiss (4.4 million) use social media – and the trend is rising. This is an omnipresent topic that has become an integral part of almost every company. Companies without it feel more and more under pressure to jump on the social media train. In this article you will learn how to get started with social media and what you should pay attention to.
Create a profile, store contact data and subscribe to customer and partner pages – and the likes and new customers will fall from the sky. It's not as simple as that. The olympic thought «Being there is everything» is not enough in this case by far. To lead a social media channel, in order to transact twice in the year a post office (whereby one of it is still a «Merry Christmas»-picture from a picture data base), does not bring the hoped for success and costs in most cases only unnecessary time. In order to benefit from social media, you need a strategy – and the effort is not to be underestimated.
Develop a strategy
First, you should clarify whether your company is ready for social media. Ask yourself questions such as «Am I not afraid to hand over control of corporate communications to my employees?» or «Am I afraid of criticism or negative comments?».
There are different trends in social media. Social media platforms come and go, sometimes stories are trendy, sometimes videos. But what is important for your strategy is not the trends, but the wishes of your target group.
Of course you have to know your target group and their wishes. You can ask yourself the following questions: «Who do we want to reach?», «Is it young people or adults?» or «In which social media are they represented?». To find out, you can ask your existing customers. Then you create personas – imaginary people who represent your target group. In addition to the target group, goals and channels must also be defined. You will find out later in this article which channels are intended for what purpose.
Why do users follow a brand on social media?
The reasons why Facebook users follow a brand are the following in descending order: Interest in new products, interest in corporate news, interest in fun and entertainment, interest in customer feedback and reviews from other users, and last, interest in sweepstakes. Especially if you have a younger target group, you should consider the following conditions: Facebook users between the ages of 14 and 19 focus on fun, authenticity and entertainment. Young people place more trust in real people than in impersonal companies.
Now we know which content reaches our target group. But that alone is not enough. We have to turn our content into living stories. Today we talk about storytelling.
People love stories
Stories have a psychological effect – we can put ourselves in the position of the actor and live through the story itself. We have been told stories since we were children - and we still know them today. Do you remember the moment when your parents told bedtime stories? Or do you remember the many exciting stories that your friends told at summer camp around the campfire? Certainly some of these nostalgic moments are in best memory. In contrast to pure facts, we remember stories longer and more positively. Hence the reason the youth magazine izzy is so successful. Their stories interest, entertain and touch the readers.
You should not focus too much on relevant content. Instead of screaming for relevance, you should ask yourself whether you would share the planned post yourself. Posts like «We wish you a happy Easter time» are often superfluous. You need entertaining content and entertaining stories. Such an example could be a short customer story «Why I'm betting on the product XY» or an internal company story about a long-time employee like «From Trainee to Member of Management».
No fear of criticism
By operating social media channels, you promote direct customer communication. Most companies experience sooner or later that this is not only positive. But don't be afraid of it. Criticism – especially of course constructive criticism – can be very valuable. The example of Domino's Pizza even shows how a crisis can be used as an opportunity.
And if a negative comment doesn't contain «reasons» – ask. A simple comment like «Thank you very much for your feedback. We are constantly striving to improve and provide our customers with the best possible experience. What exactly was wrong with our service? We wish you a successful day and would be happy to receive your answer.» usually works wonders. And who knows, maybe at some point you will turn the critic into a fan.
Which channels are the right ones for my company?
After you have determined the target group and are clear about the goals, you can start selecting the channels. Those who produce tutorials such as Hornbach are most likely to publish them on YouTube. If you have high-quality and coherent product photos, such as IKEA's, it is advisable to maintain an Instagram profile. In the following, I will explain the special features of the individual platforms.
Although the Facebook platform has mainly caused user losses among the younger generation, it is still the market leader. With other platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, the Facebook group is a world power. Thanks to its enormous reach thanks to several platforms, the Facebook Group also overtook Google in terms of advertising revenues in 2017.
Almost half of the Swiss population is represented on Facebook. As mentioned above, there are almost no teenagers on Facebook anymore. The largest user group is between 20 and 29 years old. It is interesting to note that around a quarter of users are 50 years old or older.
On Facebook, you can publish everything from pure text posts to pictures, videos, surveys, galleries and much more. In addition, Facebook groups are currently very trendy. There, only users approved by the admin can read and discuss, which is why this is also very actively used. Since the Facebook algorithm update, content from pages has been given less weight. So much organic reach is lost. Creating a group counteracts this – a group contribution, whether from a company or a private individual, is weighted higher by Facebook than normal page content. That's why you can reach many more Facebook users by posting in groups.
The largest, best-known and most popular video platform in the world is very popular with 14-18 year olds. 69% of them even use the app daily. For them, YouTube is the new television, so to speak. For videos that appeal to YouTube users, excitement is important. Unlike the classic storytelling approach, where there is usually only a climax towards the end of the story, a YouTube video should start with a kickstart (an emotional climax). YouTube users decide in the first 3 seconds whether to continue watching the video or click away. The start is therefore decisive. In order for the users to watch the video to its end, a sequence of highlights is used. It is important to avoid boredom – because then the user is very likely to switch to another video.
By the way, did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world? Many users search directly on YouTube and don't take the detour via a «normal» search engine.
Generations Z and Y want entertaining entertainment, storytelling and inspiration – all on the smartphone. That's exactly what Instagram has to offer, which is why it's so popular with this user group. Companies that want to reach a young audience should consider using Instagram. The fact that around 80% of Instagram users follow at least one company makes the platform even more interesting.
Food, fitness, music and lifestyle with fashion and streetstyle are topics that work very well on Instagram. The artistic, entertaining and usually very elaborate staging of everyday life is in the foreground. The posts are of very good quality and many profiles pay attention to a harmonious feed that conveys a harmonious overall impression. Quotations and slogans that are beautifully displayed typographically are also frequently posted.
Instagram has a high interaction rate, so it's worth asking questions at posts. The Instagram stories also give you many ways to communicate directly with your subscribers: Surveys, live streams, mood sliders, and questions.
Another search engine disguised as a social media platform is Pinterest. It is used for inspiration and searching for ideas, especially in the areas of fashion, home, food, beauty, DIY (Do it yourself) and design. The best ideas can be stored in secret or public pinboards. Pinterest users are generally considered to be very eager to buy, as they already go to the platform with one goal in mind. For example, someone wants to redesign a room and is looking for inspiration. If a vertical pin, which is usual for Pinterest, is directly linked to a cool product from an online shop, there is a big chance for a successful sale.
An advantage of Pinterest is the longevity of content. Seasonal content is also well received. However, these two attributes are by no means in conflict, as the following example shows: You run a website with various DIY instructions and published a pin in Easter time 2010 that shows how eggs can be colored. This post will now be very popular year after year at Easter time and will generate lasting clicks on your website.
The world's most popular messaging app now has 1.5 billion users. In Switzerland, for example, there are now more WhatsApp users than Facebook users. Unlike social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, users effectively want companies to be represented on a messaging app like WhatsApp. It makes it easier for them to communicate with the business. Questions can easily be asked and the desired information can be obtained directly in an app that is mostly used daily anyway. With the help of WhatsApp newsletters, information can be sent to many people simultaneously.
Of interest to businesses is the WhatsApp Business App, designed specifically for small business owners. The app makes communication with customers child's play with the following tools.
- In the Company Profile, you can store useful information such as address, company description, email address, and website.
- Quick Answers allow you to save and reuse messages you send frequently so that frequently asked questions are answered quickly.
- You can organize your contacts or chats using labels so you can easily find them again.
- You can also set an out of office message so your customers know when to expect an answer. You can also create a welcome message to introduce your company to your customers.
Young people want to be among themselves – this used to happen on Facebook, now on Snapchat. The largest user group is between 16 and 29 years old. Snapchat is more a messaging app like WhatsApp than a social network like Facebook. Mostly the communication happens directly between two users or in group chats, which we know from WhatsApp.
So-called snaps are transient. This means that the content (photo, video or text message) can only be viewed once and is then gone. Screenshots can be taken, but the chat partner will be notified. Unlike Instagram, Snapchat users are much more authentic. You don't want to «fake» a life as great and unique as possible, but show your friends what it's really like.
With the Snapchat stories as well as in the discovery area it is possible to place advertisements. Since no meaningful statistics about the success of Snapchat advertising are available yet, I briefly describe my personal experiences.
I rarely look at Snapchat stories and I practically never visit the discovery area. I prefer direct communication with my friends. I also don't follow a company profile, «celebrities» or influencers. So I «escape» snapchat advertising relatively well.
Don't you know it? In 2018 it was the most downloaded app in the world. The app uploads short and entertaining videos. TikTok's mission is to capture and share creativity, knowledge and important as well as funny moments of everyday life.
The app was originally developed from musical.ly and is especially well received by teenagers. Since 2019 it has been possible to advertise on it.
Twitter is not as popular in Switzerland as it is elsewhere in the world. The social media platform is, so to speak, a news live ticker and not a classic social network. Contributions with the typical Twitter text limit of 280 characters are displayed without hierarchy in the feed. Often you get news from all over the world on Twitter before they are published on online newspapers.
Especially journalists, company bosses, influencers and bloggers use Twitter frequently. Thanks to its unconventional nature, Twitter offers its users open exchange and direct contact opportunities with everyone. This enables customers to write directly to journalists and companies.
Companies can use Twitter as a helpdesk and public question and answer area. Information is thus disseminated quickly and easily.
The business network LinkedIn serves for the professional exchange with customers, partners or colleagues. It helps to network in business and to cultivate relationships.
Companies also present themselves on LinkedIn, albeit not for entertainment purposes such as Instagram. For example, we would like to share our blog posts with our (potential) customers in order to provide them with expertise. We also inform customers and partners about what is happening in the company. The search for new employees can also be done via LinkedIn.
A few recommendations at the end
If you are playing with the idea of becoming active as a company on social media, I would like to give you the following suggestions: The management of social media channels is complex and takes time – and should not be done without a strategy. If you don't want to spend time on maintenance, you'd better leave it at that with social media. Nothing is worse than a dusty Facebook profile with the last post several months ago. My motto is clear: either right or not at all.
Contrary to what many people think, the most important indicator on social media is not the number of fans and followers, but «commitment». Social media is not one-way communication. You shouldn't post content and then ignore the following reactions and comments. On the contrary, be sure to create content that encourages your community to engage with your company. Surveys, simple questions or competitions are the best way to do this. This is the only way to benefit from social media. As already mentioned, this is very time-consuming, but can also pay off. Not only in the form of new customers. You learn a lot about what your customers think of your products and services or what they want from you in the future – and experience has shown that this can be worth gold.
Are you already active in social media? If so, on which channels? And if not, why not? I look forward to your comments.