Social engagement is no longer a “nice-to-have” marketing strategy; businesses require active community involvement across their social media and content to secure a powerful presence as a brand. Although people’s presence on social media has become more and more pronounced over the past few years, and social media ads are playing a critical role in purchase decisions, even experts will agree how social trends and technological changes make it extremely challenging for marketers to boost social media engagement.
Expanding a brand’s reputation and social presence is not easy; if you have been struggling, you’re definitely not alone. In a cutthroat competitive industry, thinking of new ways to stand out, especially with higher expectations, can be daunting.
Common challenges of social media marketing
Several social media marketing challenges can get in the way of strategy formulation, allocation of time and budget, and ROI measurement.
Few post interactions and engagement rates – More users and brands on a network means more competition to attract customers. Lately, organic engagement has been on a decline and, in turn, impacting brands on major social platforms. This is because overcoming social media algorithms is the toughest challenge of social media marketing, with paid ads monopolizing the industry. It is almost impossible to earn reach and interactions without relying on paid promotions alongside organic content. It is especially difficult if the budget for regular campaigns is invested in the wrong platforms.
Standing out amongst competition – As noted above, competition in the industry is what most brands struggle with, and it’s very easy to get intimidated by the competitor’s follower counts and engagement. Instead of getting stuck in this obsessive cycle of futile comparison, businesses must first focus on establishing their own identity and building their own community. It is crucial for them to understand that a smaller, loyal community, ultimately holds more worth than vanity metrics.
Understanding the target audience – Ever wonder why some brands have a successful in-store business but fail miserably online? This is because, unlike brick-and-mortar stores, the business has to seek out customers on social media. Too often, marketers are under the misconception that quality content converts, even if it is not targeted. While it is true that great content earns engagement, it is not necessarily a lead generator if it isn’t tailored to the requirements of the target audience. A catch-all approach seldom results in the desired returns and damages the brand’s credibility. Bombarding people with irrelevant content is certainly not the right strategy to increase social media engagement.
Prioritizing owned mentions and responding to call-outs – While social media is a popular medium to keep customers updated about the latest product offerings, simply pushing out posts isn’t enough. It is also the go-to channel for customer service and support. Besides customer and lead interactions, speedy response times, especially in times of crisis, are a must for keeping customers happy and satisfied. Brands must pay extra attention to how they respond to questions, callouts, and everything in between if they want to maintain a positive relationship with their customers and their reputation.
Lack of cross-departmental connection and understanding of social media – Social media involves a range of proficiencies and is the third most in-demand marketing occupation today. These added responsibilities mean more dependency on social media efforts. However, the challenge for businesses is finding the right talents who will contribute to the growth of the brand’s social strategy. Moreover, some stakeholders or higher-ups do not see the immediate value of investing in social media, and making a business case for it is a common challenge for marketing teams. Despite collaborations between departments like PR, product, or sales, many teams sadly stay siloed. One cannot expect to create better campaigns without collaboration and understanding.
Actionable solutions to common social media marketing challenges
Despite the common challenges organizations face, they are not fighting a losing battle entirely. With a little initiative, these hurdles can be easily addressed to boost social media engagement.
Engagement rate: Analyzing the top-performing posts and finding the common threads, such as content themes, brand voice, timings, post types, etc., can give proper insight into what drives the most interactions. The focus should be on content that taps into the brand’s existing community through user-generated content campaigns, responses to mentions, or question-based content. A good strategy is to consider collaborating with influencers and brands to help extend the brand’s reach and encourage more mentions and social media engagement. In terms of content, most consumers prefer seeing product-centric ads that prominently feature products, services, and actual customers. Combining that with user-generated content and giving the participants the opportunity to win prizes will surely raise the rate of engagement on social media.
Competitive market: A brand should first focus on building a primary promotional and content marketing strategy around social media engagement. It can include user-generated content, response to customer queries, comments, and tagging. To cut through the competitive social media noise, it is crucial to develop a distinct brand voice through the power of personality, whether it is through humor or relatability. Companies can also engage employees to boost their brand’s content and extend their social reach.
Target audience: Digging into the existing customer base, email subscriber list, and ad analytics can help a business identify its ideal customer. Creating a detailed customer profile helps offer a more personalized experience, and brands can offer tailored content that appeals to the audience. Social listening tools capture these insights by drilling down conversations around the brand, product, and niche, thus helping shape campaign goals and content. Social listening makes it possible to understand customer decisions, consumer sentiment, and their pain points.
Prioritized responses: Businesses should learn to address the most important messages from customers who are looking to interact directly on priority. Knowing the value of each customer conversation is critical to social engagement. It is possible to learn customers’ most common issues and concerns. Anticipated responses can help speed up the response time. Even messaging templates can be personalized to offer a more tailored customer experience. Having a specific social media crisis plan can help the company handle more serious issues without getting overwhelmed.
Team communication: In addition to the social media team, it is also important to invest in growing other departments that contribute to the overall social strategy. Social media marketers should be able to communicate easily with other teams when creating marketing goals. Sharing relevant resources and insights with departments, such as sales, HR, R&D, customer service, and others, can significantly improve a brand’s social presence and help understand its effect on sales. Know which proficiencies are lacking in each department, regularly review metrics with them, and explore collaboration opportunities across teams.
Some effective ways to get stakeholders on board are by documenting the impact of social presence on business goals, highlighting relevant metrics that have helped achieve those goals in the past, understanding critical social media KPIs, and conducting competitive analysis and market research to emphasize the importance of a strong social presence in the specific industry.
Marketing comes with its own set of challenges, and social engagement is no exception. Being familiar with these issues helps businesses better prepare to handle them.
Venkata Jagan Saka, Senior Director – Intelligent Automation, HGS Digital
Jagan has worked on proactive opportunities to optimize costs, increase revenues, and enhance user experience through transformational initiatives. He has led large programs in Enterprise Content Management, Enterprise Search, Modern Intranets, Mobile, RPA, and CRM that deliver value-added solutions and services to customers to meet their business needs.
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