Social Media Promotions Drives Social Equity
In an age where dwindling attention spans and brand saturation dominate the “socialsphere,” it’s become more critical than ever before to utilize social media promotions for retaining fans and expanding audiences. Typically, promotional marketing on social media is a frowned upon practice in the minds of consumers. However, when done correctly, it’s a powerful tool brands can leverage to build stronger bonds with their target audience.
Social media promotions help generate social equity by keeping key performance indicators (KPIs) on track because they create incentives for your fans to like, comment and share your content.
Understanding how to develop effective social promotions that serve your broader business goals is an essential piece of the puzzle. Not only does this quantify your campaigns, but it also helps mobilize your social community and increase consumer retention.
What are Social Media Promotions?
Social Media Promotions are the use of exclusive offers on a brand’s social media channels that are strategically intended to raise consumer interest and influence purchase behavior. Social promotions differ from traditional marketing promotions in that they take advantage of digital technology, tapping into the social web’s exponential reach opportunity (i.e., Increased Reach = Increased Business Performance).
Successful social media promotions take into consideration the marketing vertical the brand operates in and whether promotions should be released periodically or integrated into the overall social media strategy. An example of this is an e-commerce centric fashion brand who wants to utilize social media promotions to generate sales by offering exclusive weekly offers on its Facebook or Instagram accounts. These offers drive social media users to its website, engage them in a flash sale, provide free shipping, or even give an extra 20% off if the user signs up for its newsletter. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a soft drink or frozen foods brand who doesn’t have a significant e-commerce focus may want to run a recipe contest, swag sweepstake, monthly digital coupon, or quarterly corporate social responsibility promotion.
Even though promotional marketing is nothing new, the Internet and social media have changed how most brands go about the process. Promotions on social media have become faster, easier, less expensive and, conversely, more effective than traditional methods.
Why Implement Social Media Promotions?
There are countless approaches to social media promotions that can be applied to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. Here are a few benefits that can help drive success for practically any brand, regardless of vertical.
1. Increased Brand Awareness — The most visible brands know there’s no such thing as “enough” when it comes to brand awareness. Building awareness and putting your brand front and center in the public eye can be a challenge with all the noise across every social channel, but promotions can help get you there faster than you might think. Promotional content should always be consistent to ensure it doesn’t foster any communication disconnects, which is one of the biggest mistakes made in social media promotions. When managed successfully, social media promotions can help increase visibility like never before.
2. Accelerated Sales — One of the most important things to keep in mind when offering a promotion via social media is to ensure it’s available for a “limited time only.” Take, for example, a company offering a free leather case with the purchase of a new laptop computer. If this promotion becomes the norm and is available for months/years going forward, it’s no longer viewed as promotional. If, however, the customer must make a purchase within a given time frame for the promotion to apply, the chances of accelerating a sale increase significantly.
3. Enhanced Focus on Target Markets — Social media promotions can certainly be broad in scope, targeting, say, a brand’s entire Instagram following (which could include millions of users). It also allows brands to dig deep and target efforts to a much more specific niche audience, which is where the true magic can happen. This method can even be employed as a form of market research, allowing for analysis of what’s effective in terms of promotional tactics when applied to a given set of users and what isn’t.
4. Cross-selling Potential — Creating a promotion, whether it be a giveaway, contest or otherwise, allows brands to cross-sell products that fans may not know about or have interest in. It could be an old product that’s fallen out of popularity, or perhaps even a prototype that hasn’t yet hit the market in saleable form. This potential for cross-selling can increase both revenue and engagement, making it an excellent method to keep top-of-mind when developing a strategy for social media promotional marketing.
5. “Big Data” Generation — “Big Data,” as it’s often called, refers to the wealth of customer information floating around the digital and physical world in the form of email addresses, phone numbers, and everything in-between. This information can be worth its weight in gold when compiled and analyzed to create brand segmentation, which can be utilized to inform personalized marketing efforts going forward. Something as simple as requiring an email address to download a free PDF e-book can lead to a database of customer information to work with on future campaigns.
While a well-rounded social media marketing strategy that involves a broad range of tactics is crucial to ensuring KPIs don’t flounder, social media promotions must be a part of any successful plan no matter how ambitious or straightforward it happens to be.
Understanding the Types of Social Media Promotions
Sales Offers – Sales focused social media promotions play into psychological triggers that drive consumer purchase behavior. There are a plethora of tactical approaches; however, the best social media sales promotions provide consumers with exclusive deals they cannot participate in outside of a brand’s social channels. The specific approach will depend upon the brand, the marketing vertical in which it operates, and the overall goal of the campaign. Make sure to set appropriate sales benchmarks that align with your paid media strategy and budget. For example, you’ll want to allocate enough paid media to have a good chance of meeting the benchmarks, so your goals aren’t arbitrary.
Contests & Sweepstakes – Social media contests and sweepstakes build your brand’s social communities while mobilizing your fans and creating brand advocates. In addition to expanding your social footprint, contests and sweepstakes can be structured to solicit user-generated content, which increases a brand’s reach amongst audiences it may not have otherwise captured. When developing your promotion, it’s imperative to follow the guidelines set forth by the specific social channel in which you are running your promotion. Each social media channel has different policies in regards to incentivizing fans. To abide by these policies make sure to do your research and seek legal counsel before developing your official rules.
Brand Campaigns – Social media promotions that strategically focus on a master brand initiative or specific product offering are an excellent way to raise brand awareness. These types of social promotions typically promote a communication objective by shifting brand perception and increasing consumer affinity. Developing quarterly brand campaigns can make all the difference when it comes to meeting those hard to reach metrics set forth earlier in the year. If you are unable to release these promotions quarterly due to budget restrictions, your next best option is to figure out your brand’s peak performing months and run your promotion during those times.
Product Launches – Social media promotions centered around new product launches are a fantastic way to gain additional exposure and generate buzz within your social communities. Product launch promotions assist in educating consumers on the benefits as well as the key differentiators of your new product features and how those compare to its competitors. When developing product launch promotions on social media consider dynamic content, such as video, an essential tool to help communicate the brand narrative with the most significant impact possible.
Corporate Social Responsibility – Social media promotions that help benefit society build trust with consumers while also raising awareness of a business’s corporate values. Corporate social responsibility promotions are strategic marketing communications that educate consumers regarding a brand’s good deeds. Social promotions within a CSR framework should be structured in a way to provide a donation to a good cause, while also incentivizing social media fans to participate. Brands should consider giving away all, or a percentage of, the sales proceeds from their promotion to humanitarian organizations such as Feeding America, American Red Cross, Unicef, and others.
Tactics to Consider
Implementing social media promotions into your arsenal of strategies can be challenging if the right approach is not taken from the beginning. There are a number of different tactics that can be helpful in setting your brand’s efforts in the right direction—the key is learning how to utilize them in tandem with one another as opposed to on their own.
Here are a few social media promotion tactics that are particularly effective, all of which can be combined to create a successful campaign.
Signature Hashtags: One of the best ways to gain brand awareness outside of your current social media fanbase is to design a promotion around a signature, branded hashtag. They help centralize promotional content for fans and are extremely useful for tracking success and monitoring a promotion’s progress (especially when it comes to user-generated content). Encouraging users to share a photo of your product, including the associated hashtag, can be the first step toward a campaign opening up your brand, product, or service to an entirely new audience. Signature hashtags are most effective when incorporated into Instagram and Twitter promotions.
Select an ROI Model: Measuring return on investment (ROI) in relation to promotional marketing campaigns can be challenging, which is one reason it helps to select an ROI model and stick with it. Taking an incremental margin approach is recommended, which allows you to regularly check whether investing in social media promotions has added value to the company in the form of increased revenue, widened reach or otherwise. Note that while ROI is typically spoken of in terms of revenue, other more esoteric elements (like enhanced brand awareness) can be less cut and dry when it comes time for analysis. Below are the recommended ROI models to utilize with social media promotions:
The sales model focuses on revenues directly associated with your social media promotion and are tracked accordingly. We utilize data points from the promotion to develop in-depth reports outlining sales of specific products, conversion rates, average cost-per-order, and more.
2. Brand Awareness
With this model, we analyze how many people see, or could potentially see, your brand’s social media promotion via reach statistics. The ideology behind the brand awareness model is to generate enough buzz about your products and services to drive purchase intent, either at retail or via e-commerce.
3. Customer Advocacy
Customer advocacy is a customer-first model that ties directly to the organizational culture in which a brand operates and conducts its business practices. This model is supported by customer service and strategic marketing tactics, which elevate the brand to foster customer relationships. In order to determine ROI of customer advocacy, we analyze the number of shares, mentions, sentiment, and user-generated content to measure a brand’s promotional performance against industry benchmarks.
4. Brand Perception
Are you looking to change brand perception by swaying customers in a new direction? Throughout a brand’s lifespan, it may be necessary to change narratives in order to meet new directives and shifts in the digital marketing landscape. The brand perception model is typically measured by tracking comments on promotional posts and watching for a shift in sentiment.
5. Customer Loyalty
The customer loyalty model directly correlates to how consumers “feel” about a brand’s products or services. Today’s most successful brands understand that customer loyalty is an essential component in provoking psychological triggers that drive purchase intent. These triggers provide positive emotional experiences for consumers which produce a perceived value. This model aims to increase retention, creating long-lasting customers for your business. Measurables include data points such as monthly subscriptions, purchase rates, and engagement with loyalty promotions.
Determine a Timeline: Social media promotional marketing works best when defined by a strict timeline. This allows for the creation of fine-print details for sweepstakes/contests and also helps to ensure fans and customers take action, rather than going about their day and forgetting about a promotion altogether. In general, the shorter and more urgent the timeline, the more likely a given campaign will end with significant results.
A/B Test Paid Social Ads: Organic reach has lost its hold across the socialsphere, and there’s no getting around the fact that brands absolutely have to take advantage of paid social media advertising to make a true impact. Finding success with paid ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is more art than science, which is why “A/B testing” ads are not only smart but crucial. If you’re running an ad that just doesn’t seem to be working for your brand, switch it out for another, or try it on a different network, and take note of what happens—this information can help inform your approach to advertising on social media in the future.
Avoid “Platform Saturation:” It’s often assumed brands should launch campaigns across as many social channels as possible in order to make the widest impact. This may make sense at face value, but in reality, certain networks are far more suitable for specific types of campaigns than others. Photo contests, as an example, yield better results on Instagram than on Facebook due to the nature of each platform. When developing a promotion, be sure to put a good amount of thought into which network makes the most sense for it, and avoid oversaturation across multiple channels.
Study Guidelines for Social Networks: On a similar page, every network is unique in terms of what’s allowed and which rules should be followed when it comes to promotional marketing. Documentation outlining these guidelines is usually available on each social network’s official website, and taking the time to internalize campaign-specific nuances can help your brand avoid running into potential headaches (some of them legal in nature) before, during, or after a promotion has been kicked off.
The Bottom Line
Social media promotions are essential to helping your brand get the most out of today’s most popular social channels, representing a lower-cost, more-controlled set of tools tailor-fit for building brand awareness and increasing consumer engagement. With the right set of strategies in place, you can boost revenue and reach, while at the same time gleaning useful insights about your fanbase.
Seth Silver is the Founder of Social Control, a leading boutique social media agency based in Los Angeles. An evangelist of technology, and an educator to the business community, Seth writes about social behavior and the integration of brands within the lifestyles that drive consumer passions.