Engage them, educate them, entertain them. Everybody has a take on ‘how a brand can get the most mileage out of social media’. Ideas for social media content range from the practical to the boring to the downright wacky. Some crunch numbers, some go by their gut while others just try their luck, throwing all types of content at their users praying hard that something sticks. In the midst of all this analysis, creativity or plain wishful thinking; what gets lost sometimes is the most fundamental thing of all – what does your customer REALLY want? Isn’t it time we got off of our marketing bandwagons and decided to take an unbiased look at social media from a customer’s perspective? Think of the brands that YOU follow on social media and why. Tons of reasons why, right? So instead of seeing “what are the 10 things that worked best for brands X, Y or Z,” let’s instead put ourselves in the shoes of a typical social media user, and understand what she would want from your brand. Here are a few things that your audience, consciously or subconsciously, is expecting from your presence on Social Media: Information Something as basic as ‘information’ is enough to make an average Joe follow a brand on social media. Of course, as social media pundits have repeated over the years, this information needs to be relevant to your target audience and should be something they don’t already know. There’s various types of information that is prized by an average user. Most important are unbiased product reviews. Share reviews given by actual users on third party review sites via your social networks and help users decide on whether or not to buy your products. Next up is general information. Tips, tricks, how-to guides, step-by-step video tutorials are all welcome as long as they offer your target audience relevant information. A fan who is preparing for his SATs, would love to have some time management tips that really work. Or maybe a list of the most commonly asked questions from the last 5 SATs. Complain / Compliment / Reach Out Most marketers are thrilled with how they are now able to have one on one conversations with their customers through social media – something that was expensive, cumbersome and highly tedious just a decade ago. Customers too have caught on to the fact that their voice is now heard by everyone from the social media manager to the CEO of a brand and are leveraging this new found opportunity to the fullest extent. Nearly 40% of the customers in the study referenced above, use social media as a platform to get customer service. Gone are the days of customers calling 1800 numbers and holding on endlessly to be heard. Now with a single tweet, they can cancel tickets, reschedule them, arrange to return a product, have a technician drop in at home to fix their broken appliances, the options are endless. Social customer care has truly come of age and any savvy brand that cares for its social reputation, ought to invest in someone who offers customer care via social media full time. Shared Values According to a study by Harvard Business School; it’s not engagement, but shared values that make a user truly loyal to a brand. This goes against the basic grain of social media marketing that harps on engagement, engagement and some more engagement as the central mantra for social media success and brand loyalty. The fact is, 64% of users who are loyal to brands say the reason for their brand loyalty is the common ground that they share with the brand in question. This common ground or shared values refers to the core values that your brand stands for. It could be anything from socially conscious to ecofriendly, political alignments, cultural factors, and so on. Shared values are a common belief system that tell Joe that your brand is just like him and makes him identify with your brand a tad bit stronger. A sports loving teenager is more likely to follow Nike on social media, than Martha Stewart. Entertainment Lastly we get to entertainment value. From the number of cat videos and funny memes that we see brands posting left right and center on social media, you’d think that entertaining yourself on social media was the express reason people followed brands. Unless you are a brand that operates in the entertainment business, nothing could be farther from the truth. While there ARE some brands that are famous for their wit and the entertainment quotient of their social media posts (Oreo, Denny’s); those are generally exceptions, not the rule. People actually seek out these brands and follow them for their smart take on just about every little thing that goes on around us. Most brands however cannot hope to succeed in marketing themselves via social media purely on the basis of entertaining posts. Don’t dump the funnies altogether, but focus on the things listed above that a user REALLY wants and then you can entertain them every now and then with a slapstick meme or two! In Closing While it’s good to try new and different tactics on social media, it’s even better to do things that you know will work, simply because that’s what the customer wants. More brands would have a better grip on their social media ROI if only they followed the age old maxim of Know thy Customer. Images: ”Branding and marketing as concept/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. 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