Strategizing for Social Media Success

By Ankitha Ramakrishnan

Harnessing intelligence to fuel the creative thought process is a big idea that has been disrupting the marketing and advertising industries. If the Grand Prix’s ‘strategy’ award, recognizing campaigns that blend data and creativity to make a social impact is any proof, then advertising has evolved to structuring creativity around the volumes of data available today.

Take for example, Netflix’s industry-defying Y-O-Y subscriber growth. Be it by drawing from customer insights to invest in original bestselling content or the recent “Black Mirror : Bandersnatch” series that allows viewers to control and co-create storylines, this online streaming and subscription-based platform has redefined entertainment.

Krylon’s “First Ever Pinterest Yard Sale” is another case in point. Deutsch Agency drew from the inordinate amount of User Generated Content (UGC) available to create a winning advertising campaign. Through a series of commercials and a 690-mile yard sale, Krylon differentiated itself from the majority of the spray paint brands whose key proposition was ‘safety’. This paint supplies brand presented its line-up of products as great tools for DIY projects. The inspiration? Pinterest images posted by consumers, demonstrating creative ways to use Krylon paint.

Image source: Krylon Paints

Beauty brand Glossier has always leveraged the high-profile content posted by its customer-base in its social media campaigns. Glossier regularly runs Instagram campaigns featuring tweets and posts with brand mentions. Tapping into insights from approximately 700,000 followers on social media, the cosmetics maven crowdsourced its most recent bestselling product – a cleansing jelly.

Image source: Mike Jelly Cleanser

The following are few key takeaways from the biggest brands and their social media strategies:

1. Create a Winning Brand Personality

When users go online, they want to see a brand as less of a product and more of a persona. Dove is a great example of a brand with “personality”. A few controversial advertisements notwithstanding, Dove, today, is seen as an embodiment of feminine beauty, as a function of confidence.

The Aaker Brand Personality Model is a good starting point to narrowing down your brand’s personality. Once your brand identity is mapped out, maintain a consistent set of attributes to post branded content – be it using a specific tonality for the images and copy or repetitive usage of a combination of emojis. Branded hashtags are critical!

2. Borrow from your Community

Contests such as Starbucks’ “Red Cup” offers patrons an option to contribute potential branded content. Unlike typical campaigns that use a ‘push’ strategy to reach their audience, Starbucks’ photography contests pull useable content from the participants. This helps create community involvement through the creation of stunningly shareable user-centric content and gains new followers. Additionally, paying attention to community conversations can help offer insights into new product and innovation ideas.

3. Make it seem Bigger than the Business

Corporate Social Responsibility continues to be a big part of marketing initiatives, and this applies to social media as well. Give your community a reason to believe that they are part of a cause that’s greater than profitability for your business. Tide’s “Loads of Hope” campaign used social media to keep its community informed of the upcoming locations of their mobile laundromat as well as other updates.

Image source: Tide’s Loads of Hope Campaign

4. Use UGC to Expedite the Adoption Process

What better way to announce a new product, service or version than to have your early adopters (or ‘visionaries’) advocate for it? Through social listening tools, you can track brand mentions tied to a product release and re-share User Generated Content to establish authority. More compelling than testimonials, social media posts from loyalists can help your product/ service move quickly through the user-adoption curve, from the visionaries to the conservatives and eventually the laggards. BMW and several popular car brands benefit heavily from this strategy.

Image source

5. Build a Corporate Culture

Countless companies advertise their corporate culture and values on social media. A positive online reputation can speak for the high caliber of services provided and bring in more clientele. Hootsuite is a great example. Hootsuite’s employees regularly share images of their workplace, advocating for the company’s culture on social media. Needless to say, social media advocacy attracts the ideal candidates to your company as well in times of recruitment.

With close to 3 billion individuals expected to be avid social media users in the coming year (Statista), it pays to observe what your community is saying and doing. If lessons from big brands are anything to go by, the brand-user feedback loop is crucial to your success in crafting the most effective social media strategies today.


Ankitha Ramakrishnan is currently a social media strategist at Edkent Media Digital Marketing Agency in Toronto, Canada.

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