6 Ways to Engage with your Target Customer

Image Source: http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/facebook-marketing/data-facebook-drives-sales/

You see it all the time, brands, both personal and products use pay per click (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM) to self promote themselves and tell the world how great they are. The reality is no one cares and shouting to consumers how great you are is a big turn off.

It’s not what you say but how you say it

Consumers respond to a brand’s social media posts are usually aware of the brand. They can relate to the brand story. Like you and me, they prefer an informal, less formal interaction that leaves the details for later — much like the way we all communicate with our friends and social contacts online.

Approximately 80% of Fortune 500 firms use Facebook to advertise and research has yet to discover why consumers tend to “like”, share or retweet certain types of content but give a thumbs-down to others. To provide some insight, a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh and Oxford analyzed 4,284 Facebook post from nine brands over an 18-month period. The companies varied in size and spanned several industries, ranging from consumer packaged goods, restaurants, retail, and sports. The research looked at 14 content characteristics covering aspects of what brands say and how they say it is and the different types of consumer engagement with brands’ posts.

The research found that various drivers of engagement, with the most important being those associated with persuasion. Despite conventional wisdom and the practices of traditional marketing, persuasive content characteristics are found to lower engagement in social media.

Here are a 6 takeaways that you should consider:

1. You have 6 Seconds to Engage Me

The average consumer has an 6 second attention span, down 50% from what it was in 2000. According to Inc. the average person now has a lower attention span than a tropical fish, which means your ad needs to be far more engaging and ideally entertaining than ever before.

YouTube gives viewers the option to skip your advertisement after the 5 second mark making it critical to place your most attention grabbing and engaging image and messaging within the first 5 seconds.

Facebook image ads limit the ad to 20% text. Therefore, it is important to choose a powerful image as well as to select text that focuses on information that is most engaging and valuable to your target customer.

2. People don’t go online to look for sales pitches, but to interact with friends and social contacts

Traditional marketing concepts stress the importance of clear and concise brand messaging. The opposite is true with social media marketing:

Consumer engagement with branded content increases when the communication is more vague — messages that aren’t particularly detailed or refined seem to be right at home on social media.

Having less clarity in marketing messages not only makes them seem more informal, but also draws consumers in and generates interest.

3. Make the Emotional Connection

While it can take 250 milliseconds for the brain to absorb a visual image, it takes just 13 milliseconds for those images to create an emotion. Psychology Today reports that emotion has a larger impact on the customer than any ad content ever will.

Brands need to engage in a meaningful way that makes you more of a resource than any competitor.

How do you build an emotional connection?

Use images that connects to your target audience. For example, a sporting goods company promoting their new soccer cleats might show an ad promoting a teenager scoring a goal with the parents reactions in the background. Maybe this is the first goal they have ever scored, providing an opportunity to promote the memory of this life event while advertising the impact that the cleats had to help drive this event.

When ads are successful, they makes a consumer feel good and they are more likely to act on that emotion. People buy things they don’t necessarily need, emotion is the reason why they purchase — we buy because of emotional wants.

4. Its all about the Conversation

Brands and marketers should design and plan their social media efforts to blend in with the tone and style of a friendly online conversation; prevent coming across as pushy. If needed ask users for feedback, which generally produces a positive response.

“Branded content that departs from norms of social communication on Facebook and is instead more like marketing communication tends to generate a variety of unfavorable engagement responses from consumers,” the study authors write.

My advice, is think Reddit — where the brands that used a traditional style of marketing and interaction have suffered at the hands of Reddit members. Yes, it was a brutal experience, however it taught these brands that conversations matter, not pushing your product features and benefits along with how great you are.

5. Be a human. People talk to people

When was the last time you wanted to hear, much less read “It’s Not for Women” — which is a tagline that Dr Pepper used at one time. Would this catch your attention in a positive way that would make you want to engage with the brand? My hunch is that this was supposed to be some kind of playful play at what, at the time, was the overly cute and self-aware “manly” thing that was going on with another brand.

How about “If It Doesn’t Get All Over the Place, It Doesn’t Belong in Your Face” from Carl’s Jr. Just what every parent wants to read, much less experience. Food everywhere and neither does anyone else who isn’t a toddler.

People relate to others who share a common interest and values. No matter who you’re trying to build a relationship with, there is always something they want or need. If you can genuinely identify what that is and offer value by delivering on it, they’ll take notice. Remember that this isn’t an easy or guaranteed task.

As much as you may like to believe that your messaging is the best in the world; consumers owe you nothing. You need to earn their engagement. The onus is on you to be creative and engaging to get their attention.

If you’re thinking that any of the examples in this article are an opportunity to gain an IOU — you’re missing the point. This is all about adding value and building a relationship that stands the test of time.

6. Think about and develop tactical things you can do to go above and beyond?

People like to be complimented, occasionally, take your brand page and head over to a few of your fans personal pages and take the time to comment and compliment them on their posts. This small effort makes you human and personal.

Think about this, anyone who is a parent loves their kids. If you ever want to make a parent smile and feel proud, tell them how smart, talented or cute their child is. They will be smiling from ear to ear and shocked that you took the time and effort for the personal engagement. If you do this, this absolutely needs to be transparent and authentic.

Consumers are not used to seeing are comments from brands they follow.

We all have people asking for favors or advice just about every day. One thing we don’t get very often is someone who goes out of their way to help or take notice of something that matters in our world or a brand we support taking the time to directly engage in our lives.