These days, nearly everyone is active on social media in some way, shape, or form -- and that includes your customers. Accordingly, at some point along their path to purchase, they're likely going to hit upon your social media platforms -- think of this as their crossroads, and it is up to you to be the signpost to direct them to continue their trip towards conversion.
While there are plenty of companies who just don't get it when it comes to social media marketing, there are also a fair amount of brands who get it oh-so-right. Here are some examples:
Taco Bell: 24/7 entertainment
With entertaining accounts on various popular platforms ranging from the obvious, like Facebook and Twitter, to trendier platforms, like Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat, Taco Bell goes beyond the typical deals and promotions that most of its competitors post. It isn't afraid to use humor and even poke fun at itself as well, which definitely sets it apart from other fast food joints (at least on social media).
The fast food chain also creates unique content for each platform; this is an important element of its strategy (that other marketers can borrow), since it doesn't want customers to hit upon the exact same content at multiple points along their journey.
Taco Bell hasn't only achieved success with customers through positive online sentiment, it's gotten its share of press coverage, as well. The key takeaway for other marketers? Don't be afraid to joke around -- even at your own expense. There's a reason Taco Bell is ranked No. 1 on DigiCoCo's restaurant social media index.
Michael Kors: Rich visuals and exclusive content
Destination Kors is an interesting hub on the fashion aficionado's journey towards a purchase from the Michael Kors label or his diffusion line, Michael by Michael Kors. Featuring the latest products, links to all the relevant sites, and missives and lifestyle shots from Mr. Kors himself, this social media-centric site showcases the jet-set style that the brand has become known for.
Plus, Destination Kors allows fans to share how and where they wear their Kors pieces and even what is in their Michael Kors purses and similar items via branded hashtags. The lesson for other marketers? Keep things on-brand but allow customers to feel like part of an exclusive club by sharing special content and offers, and letting them interject their own voice during the process.
Lastly, the visuals on all of the Michael Kors sites and social media accounts are remarkable cohesive with the brand's advertising as a whole, making for a memorable social presence that is consistent throughout the customer's path to purchase, and afterwards as well.
Ford: Telling the brand's story
Using major events -- both good and bad -- to rally the internal team and translate that to their customer's experience with the company via social media made the Ford marketing team pioneers in the world of social media marketing. It's become masters of using the sitcom classic hero's cycle while telling their social media story.
In addition, Ford was the very first brand to join Google Plus. It's always understood that social media was about relationship development and nurturing -- which is a tactic that all businesses can learn from. It also has a social hub that connects all its various channels, which also serves as a place where Ford owners and fans can share their own stories. In fact, this represents the final step in the conversion funnel -- once a customer purchases a Ford, they can become an active part of their social community.
What is the one aspect that all three of these brands have in common? They've taken the time to compose original content oriented to their customer's interests, no matter where they are in the purchase process. Whether or not that content is paid (advertising), earned (user-generated mentions or press coverage), or owned (a brand's own social presence and associated sites), the aforementioned brands and other companies that have achieved social media success keep the customer's needs, goals, and desires in mind as they progress along their social media journey.
Megan Ritter is a freelance online business journalist.
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